If tear could build a stairway, and memories a lane,
I’d walk right up to heaven, and bring you home again..
My son would have been 1 year today had he lived.
For anyone who has lost a child, and I myself have lost one, the pain, anger and sorrow don’t become any less sharp. Those feelings may take a back seat to the inevitable everyday tasks and duties that we must carry out, but I find the smallest reminder can easily bring them to the fore again. For me, it is birthdays or holidays, a certain child’s cry, baby booties or a child s eyes looking into mine. I used to ask myself if it was wrong to continue to feel the grief so deeply until I read a story of another woman who had also lost a child. She, too, had the same conflicts of emotion: the need to “get on with life” and “snap out of it” versus the need to keep our children’s memories alive.
When we lose a child, especially if it is sudden and unexpected, it is as if a part of us dies too. There is a strong connection with our children which starts from the time a single seed is fertilized and becomes a living being. For mothers, there is no relationship more intimate that that of a woman with her unborn child during pregnancy.
Because of this, we feel our children’s every hurt, we instinctively know what they need, and we live to protect them. When they die, the loss of this “human” connection can bring on the most terrible kind of grief. Because we feel that we must “move on,” many of us keep this grief internally, afraid to admit that it doesn’t get any better. Having said that, there are ways of managing the pain and grief, so that it doesn’t overwhelm your life and does allow you to move on. Here are the things that I found helped (and hope could continue to help) me:
Grieve. I think it is OK to grieve, and there need be no time limit to your grief. Grieving is healthy and it helps you to rationalize your feelings.
Talk about it. You may feel that you don’t want to talk to people, because you don’t want them to feel uncomfortable. However, not talking about your child may make you as if they never existed or were no longer a part of your life; and they are!
One of my greatest achievements was when someone asked me how many children I had, and I said one, but died. Technically, I would have said none. Yes, there may be an awkward moment on the part of the listener, but to me, I have acknowledged my children. Once it becomes apparent that I am not uncomfortable discussing it, the listener will relax too and the awkwardness will pass—for both of you!
If you keep your child’s spirit alive, you will keep yourself alive and your emotions balanced. Talk about your child, what they did, how they looked, what they might have been like now. You will find the memories uplifting and your child will continue to be a part of your family. More importantly, you may find that the grieving process becomes easier. I am not saying that we should build a shrine for a lost child, but by the same token, I personally believe that it is unhealthy to simply stop talking about them.
Take the good days with the bad. Even years and years following the death of your child, you will have your good and bad days. This is normal, we are not super women, we are human. When I woke up this morning, I said to myself “It’s Adib’s birthday. He would have been 1yr today..” Last night I cried—a deep, soul-wrenching cry. Then I thought & talked about him. It helped a lot. When you have a very bad day, keep busy.
Accept and be blameless. This is the hardest thing of all. You may not accept that they had to die, but learn to accept that they did. One thing we will never know the answer to is why it had to be our child, so tormenting ourselves with “what if” and “if only” will only cause unnecessary and unhealthy guilt. What my husband keep telling me are:
- Accept that what has come to pass cannot be changed.
- Accept that it is you who are still living and live.
- Accept that life can be too short and live each day as if it is your last.
Happy birthday, Adib! We love you soooo very much!