When your child dies, your world stops. But everyone else’s world keeps going. And that fact pisses you off and hurts you and makes your pain even worse. But you don’t want everyone else to suffer like you. Really, you don’t. You want everyone else to enjoy movies and TV shows without fear of trigger scenes of sick children or accidents.
You want people to get married and celebrate birthdays and go on vacations and have babies. But those things also make you so sad, like you’ve just been punched in the stomach. Good news can make you physically ill. And the shame and guilt for feeling that way are worse. You try your best to fake it. Happiness, that is.
Marriages fall apart after a child dies. The optimism dies too. You know that part about “for better or worse”? Well, no one expected this, because dammit, this only happens to other people. Not us. You will fight to keep your marriage together, because if you don’t, it will feel like another death.
You feel pangs of jealousy. Jealous of the families who haven’t been traumatized by the death of a child. You wonder how your life would be different if it hadn’t happened. If your child hadn’t died. But those fantasies are too much work. Your brain is so tired after your child dies. More tired than you ever thought possible. And it will be fuzzy and tired for the rest of your life. There will be lots of confusion. You know your child died. But it’s still so confusing. The shock is tricky.
People will tell you how strong you are. People will come to you for help with their lives because you are just so strong. People will tell you their deepest secrets because your heart has been split open and everyone has seen its contents.
You will feel guilt on your good days. You will feel like you’re watching yourself live your life because you still can’t quite believe you’re still living your life.
You will divide your life in two halves: when your child was still alive and after your child died. You will be shocked the first time you smile at the thought of your child rather than begin to cry. You will be angry at yourself the first day you realize you haven’t thought about your child who died from morning until night.
You will be so sad when you realize you have started forgetting details about your child. You will feel them slipping away.
You will obsessively look for signs and messages from your child who died. Some days those signs will come at you with definitive answers. Your child is okay. Wherever they are. Sometimes those signs won’t appear. You will need one so badly! You will beg the air to send something! Anything! And sometimes it still won’t come.
You will learn the special language of someone whose child has died. You will be initiated into the club. You will initiate others.
You will forgive yourself. For all of it. For your good days and for your bad days.