Trigger warning: child loss
You lose people when your child dies… important people; people you never thought you’d have to question losing.
There were a handful of them who should have been there for me when I lost my daughter but weren’t, some of them even vanishing before giving their condolences. I made myself believe that they didn’t know how to express what they should have said. That they told themselves they would message me tomorrow. Then tomorrow turned into the next day… and the next… and the next. Until the silent streak lasted a month and then it was far too late to say anything at all.
You lose people when your child dies.
Others stuck around for awhile. They brought me flowers, gift cards, homemade casseroles inside rectangular-shaped tin-foil containers, and never let a day pass by without a “just checking in” phone call.
Some of them were my close friends, my family, co-workers, and strong acquaintances. In my heart of hearts, I believe they meant well. It’s just too bad that they didn’t know my grief would last longer than their sympathy ever could. One by one, they faded away like dandelions caught on a gust of wind.
I wasn’t the newly bereaved mother for long. Yet, my plea never changed — I. Miss. My. Baby.
Some grew tired of it… I could see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice even if they were trying their best to hide it. Others couldn’t stomach it. As for the rest of them, well, they didn’t leave enough space for the possibility of who I might become as a grieving parent.
You lose people when your child dies.
It’s not okay when people leave after they vow they will stay. For awhile, it hurts like hell. You feel like you’ve been marked with a curse to lose everybody that you so deeply care for and love due to something so far beyond the reach of your control. Then you remember what you’ve been through.
That your child died, and in some opposite and unnatural turn of events, you rose up and kept going — even on those days where nobody was around to help lift you up. You did it and are still doing it without them. It’s then that you start to realize something crucial. Those people who left, not only did you never truly need them, but they were never really for you to begin with.
Though I may not show it in the way the world might expect me to, my grief is woven intimately inside of me. I don’t mourn through a flood of tears and Sarah McLachlan songs every day, or even every week anymore, but there’s not a place where I go that my grief does not follow.
And I’m fine with that… really. So why can’t others be?
My grief has become an unlikely friend to me. One that understands my pain fully without trying to “fix” me. For it already knows my child’s death has broken some part of me beyond repair, and yet, it lets me be… and I wish all of my loved ones could have been what my grief still is to me.
I want to be a grieving mother without hiding the fact that I’m a grieving mother. I want to speak of my deceased child freely without worrying about the comfort of the world around me. I want to be able to say the word “dead” without the awkward and “are you heartless?” stares. Above all, I want the one thing I can never have again — my baby.
I am a broken record. I am unfixable. I am a bereaved mother, and my plea sounds all too familiar. This is the new me in its entirety, and I’ve already caved in to the fact that there’s no altering this change inside of me.
Accept me for who I am now, or do us both a favor and just leave.
For as long as I’m without my daughter, my grief stays here, stitched at the side of me.
It is my bridge between this reality and the one my child is residing in. So please, don’t try to take something else away from me. Let me fall face-first into my grief while knowing it’s been there to catch me far more than anybody else who claimed they would be there.
I’ve been stripped of my old life and thrown into a different life that still feels brand new. I never wanted this, but now that it’s here, I don’t have time for fake friends and wannabes. In a crowd full of people, I will take the ones who had every opportunity to leave, but stayed with me to brave the storm anyway.
You lose people when your child dies, but I wouldn’t be letting you in on the whole truth if I didn’t say that you also gain some pretty amazing ones too.
Friendships which were already formed are now unbreakable from withstanding the weight of the world with their one hand while you held it up with the other. You meet people who never knew your child, yet the empathy they carry for you and your grief makes it feel like you’ve known each other forever. In a moment, you’re thrown into a child loss club you didn’t know existed. There you find millions of mothers with hearts side-by-side, each one learning how to navigate life without their child.
You lose people when your child dies, and one of the people you lose is you.
But, as impossible as it sounds, this is where you find yourself, too.