If You’ve Never Lost A Child, You Wouldn’t Understand

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
child loss

Trigger Warning: Child Loss

If you’ve never lost a child, then you can’t understand how irreversible my pain is when I say, “It just sucks.” There are no ‘right’ words that will ever make this okay.

You won’t understand that I wasn’t strong through it all. I was defenseless. I had no say-so in the matter. Unless I were to take this heartache into my own hands, was I supposed to up and die alongside my daughter?

You won’t understand the teeter-totter thoughts I continue to mask. That is, wishing I could escape my own foreboding memories, but choosing to remember. Because those shattered pieces hold fragments of her I’m afraid to lose.

You cannot possibly identify with what a cruel, mind game it was to see my baby laying lifeless in a white casket.

And you cannot comprehend the emptiness that consumed me as I lay in a bed of my own sorrows. The biggest of them all was six feet under a small mound of fresh dirt and flowers.

If you’ve never lost a piece of your heart, then you probably don’t know how many times I’ve accidentally picked out three outfits, because I wasn’t well-adjusted to grabbing just two.

And you can sympathize, but not empathize, with the sobs I thought I’d sob for an eternity.

When you’ve never buried a fraction of your soul, then you cannot understand my ferocious, inner power struggles. The desire to hold her again is intensely strong, but the need to carry on for my surviving children is heart crushingly stronger.

If you’re among the lucky ones, your nose might turn when I tell you, my jealousy uproots toward others’ medical miracles. Not that I’d wish poorly upon another, but why couldn’t it have been my baby too?

As long as your child lives, you won’t know the horror in transitioning those much anticipated, graduation photos into obituary pamphlets.

If you’ve never lost a piece of your heart, then you probably can’t resonate with how hard it was for me to crawl out of bed the morning after. As if every morning that passed, my child died all over again.


When I say time stood still, you might wonder if I’m resorting to clichés. But little do you know just how long my world sustained on pause.

Blessed are you, because you don’t know what it’s like, forgetting the terrible-awful for just a split second. And doubly blessed are you, for you’ll never desire that blissfully naive moment in grief.

You don’t get how hard it was for me to forgive myself for breathing when she wasn’t able.

You can’t comprehend how living life again somehow made me feel like I was forgetting her.

If your child breathes this earth’s air, then you don’t know what it’s like to arise from the trenches when due time comes around.

And you can’t relate to the grace I’ve found in the midst of this tragedy. Therefore, you won’t understand my vibrant ability to carry on life without her.

But what I don’t understand is, how can I not?

How can I not advocate for others burying their child in this very moment? For it was me not that long ago.

How can I not enjoy the simple things when I know they are so greatly taken for granted?

And how can I not live vivaciously for my other children, who are so deserving of a happy mom?

Certainly, my daughter’s death has altered my life’s course. But I will not allow this small part of her story (this one day) to dictate my livelihood. For you may not get this, but I am here to tell you: My grief is a place to visit, not a home to stay.

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