The daughter that my wife and I prayed and struggled to conceive, Olivia, was gone just like that. As I sat in a chair in our hospital room holding our daughter’s lifeless body, I thought in that moment the situation was all my fault. I wore sadness and anger as a shirt I could not change. So many thoughts of “what ifs” and “what did I do wrong?” In my mind, the passing of our daughter wasn’t my wife’s fault-it was mine. I took the weight of the tragedy on my own shoulders.
Many people think that child loss is something that only happens to women. You’ll hear people say, “Child loss will never happen to me!” You’ll hear things like, “she lost a baby, or she miscarried,” but the truth is child loss affects more than just women. It affects men, too. As men, it is somewhat taboo to show emotion, especially in public. It is often viewed as a sign of weakness and lack of strength and incompetence. But in my experience, crying and making myself vulnerable to emotions that I did not know I had helped me tremendously. And they helped me to navigate and surrender to my initial stages of the grief process.
As days and weeks went by after Olivia passed, I knew that I could not stay there in the crippling rut that I was in. I was hurting and my wife was hurting with nowhere to turn. But then there was a small glimmer of hope. A few of our close friends recommended a couple things to help us. One thing was to connect with Angel Baby Network and secondly to take a trip to reconnect spiritually and emotionally. For many people child loss can lead to a path of divorce and my wife and I agreed that was not going to be our journey. We began attending ABN meetings the week after Olivia passed away. Listening to others and their testimonies allowed us to not only connect with other grieving men and women but it also gave us strength. We knew that child loss was tragic but being at the meetings gave us a sense of purpose by helping other families who were going through similar situations.
Even through our pain and the loss of Olivia we still believed we were supposed to have a child. A few months into our bereavement journey we began educating ourselves on the medical condition that caused Olivia to pass away and child loss as a whole. We developed a village of close friends and an awesome medical team and a year later we conceived our miracle twins. Not a minute goes by when I do not think of my first daughter. We continue to honor her and say her name as a reminder that we are overcoming the pain. With this day being Father’s Day, my advice to parents who have gone through child loss and especially dads, it is to always remember to say their name! Your child’s life was and is of value to the world. Your child has a legacy that does not have to end with the huge rip in your chest. There is always a purpose and a plan. Sometimes you must lean not on your own understanding. The Lord will direct your path.
-Written by Michael Cureton, Jr., Kathy’s husband, Olivia’s, Kameelah’s and Michael Cureton III’s dad