My Child Died, And This Is Why I Will Never Forget

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My Daughter Died And This Is What I Want People To Understand

CAILA SMITH

Trigger warning: child loss 

It’s been two years since my child died, and I still feel like the world walks on eggshells around me regarding the sensitive topic of her brief life… and I hate it. 

It’s like her death has left this giant elephant in the room, and everyone but me goes to great lengths trying to avoid it. Like if she’s mentioned, it will somehow remind me of her death, and I will crumble into a million, teeny-tiny pieces.

But let’s get one thing straight: I never forget. I am so agonizingly aware that she is gone throughout every second of every day. Unfortunately, this is what I’ve had to adjust to in my life. 

The pain never diminishes, but somehow, I’m molding my life around it. Seeking a new normal, if you will. But I can’t do that if the world pretends she never existed. 

So please, say her name freely. 

It might surprise you, but I won’t crumble into a million, teeny-tiny pieces. I’ve already done that. Now I’m piecing myself back together again with what’s left. And yes, I might shed some tears along the way, but I will not fall apart, because I’ve already regained myself through the hardest brunt of it all. 

Understand, I don’t loathe the tears when they fall. Sometimes, I need to feel it again. I need to acknowledge and grieve her non-existence in my life. It is more than healthy for me. 

My child died, and I want you to speak about her. More importantly, I want you to allow me to speak about her. 

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Please don’t dodge my conversations about her, because the last thing I need is to be shut down. I don’t say this from a “wiser than thou” standpoint, but unless you’ve lost a child, you can’t understand how deeply the pain stays with you. 

Before our daughter died, I remember seeing bereaved parents going on and on about the children they lost on social media. And I’m embarrassed to say, I felt a little uncomfortable with the newly-found, hurting voices they publicly shared within their grief. Somehow, I foolishly thought they needed to stop dwelling via social media… because it made me feel uncomfortable. How ignorant was I? 

So, I have been in your shoes. I get that it’s uncomfortable, scary, and messy. I understand that you don’t know what to say or how to say it. I’m fully aware that you cannot fathom what it’s like to bury a child, and you fear you’ll make circumstances worse for me if you bring up my daughter’s memory. (Remember, I used to have all of my children alive and well.) 

But wouldn’t it be easier just to tell me that? 

Because if I’m being honest, I don’t even know what to say about it sometimes. Actually, my go-to phrase for this cruelty usually goes like this — It. Just. Sucks. 

How incredibly profound, huh? 

You could never remind me that she is gone, because her death is a part of her story. To forget her death would be to forget her… and I could never. So there is no “reminding me,” and there is no making me “more sad.” 

What makes me sad is feeling like I’m cut-off from all conversation about her, because the rest of the world feels uncomfortable, as I once did too. 

But now that my child died, I live in the slums of uncomfortable. 

I will never see my little girl again, and the only opportunity I get to talk about her is when someone is willing to listen. So if you want to help, just hear me out. 

I thought I would have a lifetime to say her name, yell her name, and possibly cheer her name from a front-row auditorium stand, but I don’t. 

No amount of perfect, cookie-cutter words will ever bring her back, and that’s perhaps the loneliest part of all. Point being, it doesn’t take some long, drawn out, slew of words to make a difference.

Taunting me deeply is the realization that I don’t have time for people who cannot respect my way to grieve. Because while my loss doesn’t make up the entirety of who I am, it is undeniably a huge part of me. 

And I cannot neglect my need to grieve and be a successful human being. I cannot ignore her death or pretend it did not happen, because it did. 

My child died, and just as I recount stories about my living children, I still feel inclined to do so with my child who is not alive. I still love her. Death can never changed that. One of my biggest fears is living in a world without recognition of her. So if you care for me even just the tiniest bit, please don’t let that happen.