When Harry Arter takes to the pitch to face Burnley on Saturday, he will do so for his stillborn daughter, with the memory of her fresh in his mind.
That would be the case if it were any other game, as Arter has said publicly that he now plays every game for her, but this match will hold special significance as it marks one year to the day that he received that devastating news that he and his fiancé had lost their first child.
Arter showed unbelievable strength to not only play, but earn man of the match honours in a win against Manchester United just hours after learning of the news, and the grief that he put to one side to on that day almost a year ago is something he deals with on a day-to-day basis.
Speaking to The Guardian, on his request, Arter wanted to talk about how he is dealing with such a painful loss, and his words will likely offer guidance to those who are suffering with their own personal problems. After encouragement from his partner, the Ireland international finally mustered up the courage to look at a box of memories that had been collected in anticipation of his daughter's birth, and while it hurt, that sadness is helping him to continue his life.
I looked in the box without Rachel knowing because I wanted to look on my own. I remember I was sobbing – it was the strangest feeling that I’ve ever had in my life, looking at a picture of a little baby that I’ve never seen but loving her so much at the same time. I just saw a beautiful little girl, who I felt so proud of straight away.
Every day I think of her. And it’s strange because there are days when I feel like a normal person, or how someone who hasn’t lost a baby would feel. But then it will just hit you, driving along and suddenly you see something that triggers your mind. It’s such a weird feeling and one that I don’t mind any more. Even when I’m sad I enjoy that feeling.
That, right there, is beautiful, and it is a feeling that anybody who has lost someone close to them will immediately recognise.
You never stop grieving the loss of a loved one, but the memories and thoughts that seem so painful initially soon pop up less often, and become easier to manage. They will still come, but with time those feelings start to change from sadness into fond memories.
That is happening for Arter, and now as his fiancé is preparing to give birth to their second child, he finds himself in a much better frame of mind, although initially the weight of the situation took it's toll.
I just hope everyone doesn’t think that because we’re having a new baby that we’ll forget about Renée, because that’s totally not the case. Rachel is still so sad about the situation, so I need to make sure that she stays strong now – which she is doing.
I wasn’t in a good place around that time. Physically I wasn’t great – I think stress takes a lot out of your body and I was always picking up little injuries – while mentally I was completely in the wrong place. I was very angry towards people, which I now think was the sense of loss taking over. I was lashing out and the closest people were those at work. I never got angry with Rachel. I was probably storing up so much at home because I was looking after Rachel that I didn’t grieve in my own way.
I can reflect on this now because I feel like I’m in a much better head space than I was then, but at that time I honestly didn’t think anything was wrong with me. I just thought it was everyone else. All it took was one person to say something to me and I was ready to kill the world.
I probably should have been a little bit more professional and decided I needed a little bit of time off to get my head straight. But I never asked for a day. I got upset, I did shed tears but probably nowhere near as many as I should have and all of that came out in the wrong way some three or four months afterwards.
Again, these feelings are so common, but it's refreshing to see someone of Harry Arter's standing address them so publicly.
Greif is something that everybody deals with in their own way, and for Arter it seems as though he tried to distract himself from his feelings before eventually opening up to them. In choosing to talk about them in the public forum, he is no doubt helping others to learn from the lessons he is giving.
And he deserves huge credit for that.
You can read Arter's interview with Stuart James in full over on TheGuardian.com, and we highly recommend that you do.