How I Honor The Birthday Of My Daughter Who Died Of SIDS

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My Baby Should Be Turning 3 — But She’s Not

MRS/GETTY IMAGES

Trigger warning: child loss

I’m not throwing a birthday party for my daughter this year. There will be no presents. No cake. No ice cream. No surprises. No toys. And nothing fun has yet to be planned. Instead, I will go to the nursery, buy new flowers and plant them.

My child’s birthday doesn’t look like most. Instead of greeting her in the morning with a funfetti cupcake and a smiley happy birthday, I will wake up, pour my coffee and grieve. There’s no birthday party to set up, no one to visit. The cemetery is the only destination I have my heart set to follow. There’s also no timetable, it is the place that will wait and keep on waiting for me.

Wind chimes from a spot called “BabyLand” will sound in the breeze. It sounds a lot different than the singing and celebrating of what should be my baby turning three. With granite spray in one hand and a microfiber cloth in the other, I’ll wipe her 22-inch memorial stone and remember. My fingers will trace the outlined pictures of her face, and my heart will crumble with memories of when her chest cradled against mine.

Grab the gardening shovel, aggressively dig a small hole, plant the flowers, sit on the ground and grieve. Happy birthday in heaven, sweet girl. I wish more than anything you were here to celebrate with me. 

I don’t expect the world to stop at a halt for my grief; by now, I know better. But I do want some sort of recognition that my pain is not moved by mere numbers strategically placed on a calendar.

My pain is not always displaced on birthdays, holidays or special dates that we shared. My hurt stems from the little moments all around, and it hurts that society lives so blatantly unaware.

Grieving an infant you lost is the worst kind of hurt. My daughter’s birthday will be here soon, but it won’t be the deepest wound that’s been felt. For grief knows no bounds, and it’s not always a distant concern that comes on with ample warning. Mourning a child holds no limitations, and I feel like the world fails my way to grieve each and every morning.

I’ve been on this road for two and a half years, and I’m not shy about the struggles of my journey. But I’m dying to know, what is it about the broken-hearted that leaves everyone so uncomfortable around mourning and grief?

My daughter should be turning three, but she isn’t. I’m a person too, even if my heart has far too many, unasked for ragged edges.

My grief isn’t contagious, and I miss the people who said they would stay but then didn’t. I miss the old me, the one who knew nothing about child loss.

My daughter’s death is permanent, my vices are temporary, and my motivation is sometimes completely shot. I’m not above hard times in my grief, so lately, there’s not been enough whiskey that could drown the chaos out. I’m filled with horrendous shame to admit it, but I sometimes drink at night so I don’t have to think some of the most downright awful and horrible thoughts. This is (sometimes) the grieving me, and it’s not the persion I ever envisioned, or the me I wanted to be.

PTSD after loss is real, and it hits me on more than just those special days. Even my dreams aren’t safe, and my sleep tricks me into reliving horrible scenes. What I would give to not live in this vicious, repetitive cycle of grief.

This is the nightmare of child loss, and it’s still there when I wake up every morning.

Friends and family are there and then they aren’t, kind of like the little one gone too soon. It’s an active choice that they make to ignore me in my grief, but I wish they could understand it a little bit more too.

My daughter should be three this summer, but I’ve been robbed of the opportunity to ever throw her a party. If life had gone my way, she wouldn’t have died at seven in the morning.

In painful moments such as these, I can’t say that I don’t question why this had to be a part of her or my story. My daughter was a breath of fresh air in this wounded world, and with her death went so many whole pieces of me.

Perhaps if you knew a portion of the struggle, you wouldn’t assign my grief to particular seasons.

My pain will go on forever, and sometimes I feel doomed to a life of constant negativity. But that’s just the heaviness talking, and it’s one of the many lies I’m through with allowing it to whisper to me.

One thing I do know, is that I am still one among the living. So for her, my baby, I choose to rise up, and I do it every single morning.

My daughter’s birthday is coming up soon, and I don’t have a present to give her. Instead, I will plant flowers, sit on the ground, and I will grieve. Happy birthday in heaven, sweet girl. I wish more than anything you were here to celebrate your special day with me. 

 

Check out our Child Loss Resource Page for resources, financial services, and to connect with others who just “get it.”