2016 hasn’t been bad to us; in fact it was pretty good to us. My husband got a job he loves; they have promoted him twice since being there in April. We moved to a new city, one that we have wanted to move to for a couple of years. I finally landed my foot in the door with a Physical Therapy company, launched Mom’s Balanced Life, and adopted two furbabies. That’s the nutshell version of our 2016, I am actually pretty proud of what we have managed to accomplish in 2016 and I look forward to 2017 with hope.
This post is for you my friends. This post is for all the parents who have felt the crushing blow of their child leaving this earth before them. This morning while I pondered if I would even write this piece; I rolled over an article regarding Debbie Reynolds passing just one day after her daughter Carrie Fischer. For a tiny second, I was a little envious of her; only because she had to live just one day without her daughter. I don’t write these words to be insensitive to their grieving families, but I write them to let the world know that (again my belief) death is much harder on the surviving. I have read the articles about their estranged relationship and how difficult it had been for the two of them to connect over the years. But as a mother who has to endure the rest of her life without one of her children, I have to see the silver lining for Ms. Reynolds. She is (in my belief) reunited with her daughter and she only really had to grieve for one day.
Angel Mom Club
Since losing my sweet baby boy I have met more mothers who have walked this world with one less child and it’s a club that is so hard to be a part of; yet so wonderful in the same breath. My mother-in-law is one of these women. My sister-in-law passed away at the young age of six from Leukemia, it has been over 25 years and she still tells me it’s tough. She says the grief changes and it becomes different but it never really goes away. Two amazing, sweet, and courageous women I worked with at my previous job each lost a child in a different way. One, her little boy was just three months old and it’s been 39 years for her, while the other one lost an adult son to ALS 15 years ago. These three women have had more influence on my grieving than I can explain in words. I have had endless discussions with them all and they have all had a shoulder to cry on, a lot of helpful advice, and most of all someone who understands the ache of losing a child. Reach out to those who are a part of this very exclusive club. They are some of your best sources for love, support, encouragement and in general a safe place to talk about the anger, hurt, unfairness, and the what feels like such a lonely road. There are so many more moms that are in my life who have felt this unimaginable pain and my heart is with them always, they are some of the most beautiful souls I have been blessed to know. I love you all!
During my darkest days and the hours following, whirling with shock; I found solace and comfort from another grieving mother. This is one of my favorites from Lexi Behrndt and the #oncomingalive group. If you are looking for a place to help heal your heart, this is the place.
Heartaches and Going Forward
Although, this was a year full of changes for the better; I still miss Owen. This is something all grieving parents understand. No matter how long it is and no matter how much more life you live, there is this voice that always says “what if.” How would the beach vacation have been with you here? Would you walk at one year? Would you lose your first tooth in kindergarten? All these questions bounce around in your head. You don’t really ever say anything out loud except to those who feel it too, because they understand. They have those same questions running through their own heart.
I know he is my guardian angel for sure; but the mornings when I wake up at 3am wishing he was in the next room. I feel the familiar urge to curl up into a ball and stay in the dark but I get up for him and for his brothers. Those are the toughest days, and somehow I move forward. I hold to the love for my children to get me through those days. I can’t believe it’s been a little over a year since we said goodbye. It’s been over a year since I held him in my arms and kissed his chubby cheeks. I think of him every morning and every night and even most seconds in between. I wonder if he would look like his big brother and give me a run for my money with two trouble makers around the house. I wonder if his life would have been good if he had been able to survive with his medical condition. This is about the time he should be pulling himself up on to furniture and we would have had to baby proof a house again. Instead it’s filled with his pictures and heavenly quotes and a box with his pj’s from the hospital. It’s the molds of his hands and feet that I can’t help but love and the sweetness in his brother’s voice when we take flowers to his grave. It’s the care bags we created on his birthday for the NICU and Emergency Room at the local hospital. It’s the love I feel every single day for a child I no longer get to hold.
A Note to You
If you are reading this and you have a broken heart and wonder if you will ever be whole again, I can promise you that there will be a day when you are a version of whole. You will have stitches from sewing yourself back together and you will never be the same again. You will find a way to honor your child and to give that darkness a place of it’s own. There will still be the ache in your heart and a hole that will forever be for the one you lost. Take the time to embrace the person you have become, love her/him with all your might because that child still loves you. That child who you so long for, has only joy in their heart for you. Trust me when I say it changes, it never goes away and you never “get over” losing someone you love; no matter who they were. But the death makes you different, embrace the difference and embrace the hope that begins to creep into your shattered pieces.
Fellow griever, I see you and I feel you. I have been in that dark hole and I encourage you to stay for a little while. Feel the pain and feel the emptiness, but don’t let it consume you. Don’t let it be the only way you remember your child. Give yourself permission to see the light, even if you aren’t ready to bathe in it. Give yourself permission to feel the hope and the joy that also comes from this life. Give yourself permission to chase those dreams and make the best of the time you have here. My husband always tells me “it’s only a blink of an eye”. One day, this life will end, one day I believe I will see my son again and this life won’t have felt so long after all.
With this New Year comes new hopes, new dreams and there will for sure be experiences that are dark and there is a guarantee that there will be hardships, but there is also a world out there that needs you to make your mark. You can bring your light and the light of your little one to the world in whatever way you choose. When you are ready to step out into that light and to embrace the fire within you, remember; you are amazing, you are strong and you have done one of the hardest things this a person could possibly do. You love your child who isn’t here to hug and kiss, your heart and soul have been shattered and strewn about but you have love and you have a place within you to continue and to do hard things again. I promise, let’s make our little angels proud.
I am by no means done with the path of grief but I am always on the lookout for something to put my heart into. *Contains affiliate links
How do you tend to your heart? What works and what doesn’t for your grief journey?