Yesterday a new Mommy was added to a infant loss group I'm part of on Facebook. Today I added this Mommy as a friend and I began to scroll down her Facebook page looking at pictures of her little baby girl that just passed away last week. And in one of the pictures I saw it. Her little baby girl was swaddled up in this same swaddle Abby is wearing in the photo. So many emotions filled me when I saw that picture. So many bittersweet memories came rolling back. The night this picture was taken we wept over out little baby girl. We knew what was coming the next day. That we would begin to unhook her little body from all the machines, that she would have her first and last bath, that we would try to smile through out tears while we had our pictures taken, and then we would wait out those last days of her life. Though we trusted God in our minds we still thought how unfair it was that this little girl that we loved and wanted so much was going to be taken from us. And because I'm human even now sometimes I still think that it was unfair. But I still trust God because I know He loves me. I still trust God because I know He also loves Abby.
I don't know if people are still wondering how we are doing or not. But I think we are doing good. It feels like we are doing good. I feel that being able to type out our feelings through all of this has been very healing. Words that otherwise would have been bottled up inside me(us) because I wouldn't have been able to get most of it out without crying. And so many people have told me that they've been so touched by our words and have appreciated being able to "in a sense" go through this journey with us. These are words I'm always blessed to hear.
I wanted to end with this wonderful article that a friend recently shared with me. Titled "What I wish more people understood about losing a child"
You can read the entire article here: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17928/what-i-wish-more-people-understood-about-losing-a-child.html And #1 is a big one for me. I just don't want people to forget. Yes, we want to have another baby but if/when that happens that baby will never replace Abby.
1. Remember our children.
The loss of children is a pain all bereaved parents share, and it is a degree of suffering that is impossible to grasp without experiencing it first hand. Often, when we know someone else is experiencing grief, our discomfort keeps us from approaching it head on. But we want the world to remember our child or children, no matter how young or old our child was.
If you see something that reminds you of my child, tell me. If you are reminded at the holidays or on his birthday that I am missing my son, please tell me you remember him. And when I speak his name or relive memories relive them with me, don't shrink away. If you never met my son, don't be afraid to ask about him. One of my greatest joys is talking about Brandon.
2. Accept that you can't "fix" us.
An out-of-order death such as child loss breaks a person (especially a parent) in a way that is not fixable or solvable — ever! We will learn to pick up the pieces and move forward, but our lives will never be the same.
Every grieving parent must find a way to continue to live with loss, and it's a solitary journey. We appreciate your support and hope you can be patient with us as we find our way.
Please: don't tell us it's time to get back to life, that's it's been long enough, or that time heals all wounds. We welcome your support and love, and we know sometimes it hard to watch, but our sense of brokenness isn't going to go away. It is something to observe, recognize, accept.
3. Know that there are at least two days a year we need a time out.
We still count birthdays and fantasize what our child would be like if he/she were still living. Birthdays are especially hard for us. Our hearts ache to celebrate our child's arrival into this world, but we are left becoming intensely aware of the hole in our hearts instead. Some parents create rituals or have parties while others prefer solitude. Either way, we are likely going to need time to process the marking of another year without our child.
Then there's the anniversary of the date our child became an angel. This is a remarkable process similar to a parent of a newborn, first counting the days, then months then the one year anniversary, marking the time on the other side of that crevasse in our lives.
No matter how many years go by, the anniversary date of when our child died brings back deeply emotional memories and painful feelings (particularly if there is trauma associated with the child's death). The days leading up to that day can feel like impending doom or like it's hard to breathe. We may or may not share with you what's happening.
This is where the process of remembrance will help. If you have heard me speak of my child or supported me in remembering him/her, you will be able to put the pieces together and know when these tough days are approaching.
4. Realize that we struggle every day with happiness.
It's an ongoing battle to balance the pain and guilt of outliving your child with the desire to live in a way that honors them and their time on this earth.
I remember going on a family cruise eighteen months after Brandon died. On the first day, I stood at the back of the ship and bawled that I wasn't sharing this experience with him. Then I had to steady myself, and recognize that I was also creating memories with my surviving sons, and enjoying the time with them in the present moment.
As bereaved parents, we are constantly balancing holding grief in one hand and a happy life after loss in the other. You might observe this when you are with us at a wedding, graduation or other milestone celebration. Don't walk away — witness it with us and be part of our process.
5. Accept the fact that our loss might make you uncomfortable.
Our loss is unnatural, out-of-order; it challenges your sense of safety. You may not know what to say or do, and you're afraid you might make us lose it. We've learned all of this as part of what we're learning about grief.
We will never forget our child. And in fact, our loss is always right under the surface of other emotions, even happiness. We would rather lose it because you spoke his/her name and remembered our child, than try and shield ourselves from the pain and live in denial.