When I was a kid my dad would always scold me when I said “sucks.” Did it stop me, no, but now that I’m an adult I understand why my dad hated the term. In the days following the lost of our little girl, I found myself struggling to define the feeling I had. It felt deeper than grief, more consuming than loss, emptier than sorrow and more devastating than heartache. The only thing I could say was “this sucks.” No one corrected me because no one could come up with anything better to say. Even my dad never corrected me, he’d just say, “yes it does.”
Over the last 4 months I have had to come to grips with a reality that no parent thinks they will ever experience. No one expects to leave their child with a daycare provider only to get a call saying she in not breathing. No one ever expects to hear a doctor tell them that their little baby will never wake up. But the truth is that this is our reality. I have met countless women from all over the world who live this reality with me. We live a life without half our hearts. We are the ones no one wants to talk about, we are the one who feel we cannot share our stories because it makes people uncomfortable. We are the broken parents who have experienced every parent’s biggest nightmare.
We are angry, we are angry that our children are gone. We are angry that we did not get the miracle we prayed for. Some of us lost our children due to other’s mistakes, some lost children due to a mistake we made because we thought “it will never happen to me” or “I did this with my other kids and they are ok.” Some of us lost our children to medical conditions, either known or unknown, that didn’t allow our little ones to thrive. And others lost children for no know reason at all, unexplained death. It doesn’t matter why, it just sucks, no matter the reason.
This is our new normal and we must learn to live with the new normal. Regardless of the age of the child we lost, weather they are a few hours, days, weeks or years old, we must still live with the pain that is left behind. We do not just lose a child, we lose the future we had planned. The firsts we never get to experience. I never got to hear Emma tell me she loves me. She will never visit Yosemite Valley or swim in the ocean. She will never graduate high school or get married. I never got to potty train her or teach her to drive. I lost everything that I looked forwarded to and everything I dreaded. We had a big family trip planned to celebrate Emma’s first birthday- a week at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii. Her grandparents and her uncles were going to be joining us to celebrate her first birthday on the beautiful Hawaiian beaches with Minnie, Mikey, Lilo and Stitch. The trip is still planned, but instead of taking a rambunctious little one year old, we are taking an urn of ashes. And that just sucks.
Grief is not just emotional, it is physical. Our brain chemistry changes, our bodies what to shut down. For me the trauma has gone a little deeper. I was still nursing Emma when she died. Normally my body would have slowed my milk production until she didn’t need it any more, instead, I needed it to just stop. This abrupt stop and the stress of adjusting to the new normal has caused my body chemistry to go out of whack. I now must work with my doctors to correct this imbalance and try to remind my body how it is supposed to work.
I tell you this not to request your sympathy, I tell you this to help you understand what we are going through. Not just my family but every family who has lost a child. We need your support. Please do not look away or ignore us when we share photos of our children. Please do not be afraid when we cry in front of you. Please listen when we share our children with you. Please tell us that you remember them and their lives made an impact on you. Please remember their birthdays and their angelversaries. Tell us you miss them too. If you know someone else who has lost a child, regardless of how long its been, reach out to them today and talk to them about their child. You will not make them sad, you will bring them joy. You are not reminding them of their child, they never forget their child, you are telling them that you remember their child. You are reminding them that you know how much this sucks and they are not alone.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. -Proverbs 17:17