To the Bereaved Parent,
Losing a baby is losing all the memories you thought you would have with them; it’s the death of a future you had imagined for yourselves and your child; it’s a rewrite in the plan you had crafted from the moment you discovered they existed.
Living with grief is like forever existing on the waters of an ocean. When the waves first hit you after you’ve lost your baby, you feel like you’re drowning. Your boat feels like a buoy, and no amount of flailing or screaming and crying make you feel as if you’re in control again or as if you can properly breathe with your head above the waves. You simply find a way to survive in this storm-tossed state for a while.
Eventually, the waters get calmer; the waves of emotions feel smaller, less powerful. You begin to feel a little more in control of your situation, of yourself. Eventually, you find yourself cruising along in your boat, sun on your face, eyes to the horizon.
But you’re always on the ocean.
You never leave the water.
Storms do crop up, and sometimes you find yourself right back at the beginning, clinging to that buoy, holding on until the storm passes. As time passes, storms become fewer and further between, smaller and smaller, but you’re still always on the water. What’s most important to remember is this: you are not alone out there.
I know what it is to live in that fog of disbelief and shock, anger and resentment, guilt and frustration, and the agony of confusion and sadness. I can tell you I woke up many mornings dazed from sleep, praying none of it had been true, only to have reality crash over me once again. If I could give any advice to a newly grieving parent, it would be this: be gentle and patient with yourself as you heal both physically and emotionally because processing and working through your grief will take time. It’s not a race. You don’t get a prize for reaching acceptance first.
I say acceptance because most people believe that you reach closure at some point. There is no closure to your grief when you’ve lost a child. There is no end to wishing they were still here. There will never be a time when you can look back at this time and smile that it happened and be grateful for it. But there will be healing, albeit scars as well. There will be an end to the agony you feel now; there will be sunshine and joy and laughter and happiness. But your pain can (and likely will) resurface from time to time; so, be gentle with yourself and give yourself grace. You will always miss your baby, and you are allowed to do so. Anyone who expects you to “get over it,” no matter how long it has been since your loss, clearly has never been through this, too. So please, do not hold yourself to anyone else’s expectations or timelines for your grief.
I’m so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you and your family. Know that you are thought of during this time, likely by more people than you will hear from. Death is a difficult thing for many to process and deal with, and it will feel completely unfair that others get to turn away and walk away from this while you are stuck in the midst of your grief with no where to run to. It’s a completely unfair and frustrating thing about loss, but you’ll soon discover the strength of your friendships and your marriage and find whose love transcends the most difficult of times. No matter whom you end up finding by your side, please know that you are not alone. You are never alone in this. My biggest piece of advice for healing during this time is to find the support that works for you and please reach out and find others who have been through this. We are here to hold your hand, cry with you, or simply listen as you unburden your heart.
Whether your comfort level is participating in a support group online or in person, reading a book or blog posts from those who have been there, or showing up to honor your baby at a local memorial event, I hope you find support on your grief journey to help you find acceptance and healing, and again, I am so, so sorry for your loss.
Mother of Lucas, Everett, Amos, and 4 other angels