*Warning….this post contains a couple of bad words. If you have never endured the passing away of your child you shouldn’t have anything to say about those words. But–if you are a parent who has lost a child you will be able to identify.*
I had once heard that there is nothing like losing a child. And until it happened to me, I couldn’t fully comprehend the idea. I didn’t understand how or why there was “nothing like losing a child” but based off of what I’d heard, I knew that it was something I never wanted to go through. I also didn’t think it was something I’d ever know how to live through.
And then it happened to me.
On Friday, July 31, at 7:23 pm, in one of the NICU private rooms–room B7 to be exact–with our baby boy in my arms, his daddy/my husband looking over my shoulder and crying and tears flowing down my face, I learned that there is nothing like losing a child. *God, please don’t let there be anything worse than losing a child.*
There is no hurt so deep, no pain so devastating, no circumstance so terrible that compares to it. I’m talking past your surface, through your flesh, into your muscles, on into your bones and beyond into your marrow…hurt. Your feelings’ feelings hurt and there is no one or nothing that is able to console you enough.
And when that pain doesn’t fully manifest, there are times when you will be numb. Shell shocked. Frozen in your state of mind, body and the depths of your psychosocial soul over whatever the hell just happened-because you and everyone around you is still trying to make sense of it-when it simply doesn’t make sense.
It is a shitty situation. It is a fucked up situation. It is a situation that will leave you asking God and people a million questions that no one will have the answer to. The most frequent and elusive question of them all will be, “WHY?” Especially when you did nothing to cause your child’s death.
Some days you will be fine. And other days you will be a complete and total wreck because you will face the reality that your child isn’t here on earth with you. Some days you will experience a trigger that will cause you face the fact that your child has passed away. But until it happens you won’t know that thing, person, place, smell or sound was a trigger and the tears will unexpectedly fall.
For example-as a little girl I rode the school bus every day. Normally, there is no fear in riding the school bus or driving behind a school bus. But now I know that if I leave for work at 8:32 in the morning that I am going to be behind a school bus that makes three stops to pick up children before it makes a turn and is out of my sight. And if I am thinking about my child at 8:32 in the morning and I am behind the school bus as it makes those three stops I may blink a few times and find tears rolling down my face. It’s because at that moment I realize that my baby isn’t on that school bus and the harsh truth is he isn’t ever going to ride on a school bus. And that hurts.
The raw truth about infant and child loss is that while people mean well, sometimes they say really, really stupid things and you have to look at them, breathe deeply, roll your eyes, shake your head and forgive them. You will have to be the bigger person and understand that they didn’t know what else to say. And on that day, that person or those people forgot that a hug and a “I’m praying for you” would’ve gone a lot farther than a cliche phrase. You will have to take several deep breaths and sometimes explain to them that time doesn’t heal all wounds, that none of your other children will replace the one that passed away and that just because you’re young–it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ready to get pregnant right away after your child has died.
The raw truth about infant and child loss is that as a parent whose infant or child has passed away, you will have bittersweet moments when your friends will tell you that they are pregnant and while you are so happy and elated for them that you will be sad because it isn’t you. You may get sad at your friends’ children graduating if your child was supposed to graduate at the same time. Or you may have to explain that you don’t want an invite to their child’s birthday party because it is is too painful for you to attend, while you know in the back of your head that your child should be celebrating a birthday at the same time.
As a parent you will long for the everyday things that other parents take for granted. The goodbye kiss that they receive from their child as they drop them off at a sleepover at a friend’s house. Staying up late with their child to help them with homework or a science fair. Hearing the pitter patter of feet run through the house during the wee hours of a Saturday morning. The noise of giggling late at night when their child is supposed to be asleep. The phone call that their child makes to them or vice versa just to say hello. Even their child asking 100 annoying questions or begging for money are all things that you will desire just one more time that other parents take for granted.
But I also have to come to know that as a parent whose child now lives in Heaven, that the truth about infant and child loss is that it can give you a completely different perspective on life…if you let it. You will come to realize that you possess a strength that allows you to get through life’s most tumultuous of times . You will wake up in the morning, put on your imaginary super hero cape and make it one more day, which turns into tomorrow and the day after that.
If you let it, infant and child loss can lead you to love more deeply. It will cause you to forget about things that aren’t really important. It will remind you of what really matters. It will challenge you to truly live in the moment because as a parent who has lost an infant or a child, you know all too well that the next moment isn’t promised.
The raw truth about infant and child loss is that it sucks. It hurts….a lot. But it will connect you to what I like to call the sorority and fraternity that no one wants to be a part of. You will feel an instant connection to others who have walked a similar walk as you. You will meet and befriend some of the most amazing people who are just like you, who have experienced infant and child death and who will hug you when you need it, check on you when you feel like you are falling apart and will be silent as they sit with you while you cry on those very hard days.
As you endure infant and child loss at times you will truly begin to understand that as you walk this road, Philippians 4:7 will leap off of the pages of the Bible and become true. “And the peace of God which surpasses ALL understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” You will come to know a peace that you didn’t even know you could experience.
Infant and child loss isn’t easy…but if you make the commitment to getting up one more day and to continue living on this earth with your child living in Heaven-but always in your heart-it is doable. Hang in there. You are stronger than you know.
By: Danielle Jones