When People Tell Me the Sadness Gets Easier After Losing My Child

If you’ve lost someone, you probably know it never gets easier. The sadness, the missing them, the dreams of going back in time and somehow making it not so. Somehow we just get better at managing to get through the day. And then the weeks, months and eventually years, to the point where most days you’re doing OK, you’re happy, living your life, and you still feel it, but it’s not as all-consuming. And then the days come along that you’ve set aside to just let yourself feel.

I think it’s really important to do this, and perhaps it’s because I’m such a planner, but I like knowing I have some time set aside in which I can wallow, cry and just downright miss them like mad. March 22. It was nine years since my dad passed away. A lifetime ago, and a minute ago all in one.

man walking away down path with a toddler
Rebecca and her dad.

I miss my dad something fierce — his deep voice, the way I could hear him as he would shake the duvet cover every morning when he made the bed, the way he would enter the kitchen at 6:55 a.m. and turn on the radio and the news would start and the day would begin, the sound of his leather jacket squeaking as he drove the car, and the feeling of his five o’clock shadow on my cheek.

I miss him, but I can think about him, feel the sadness and happiness and breathe.

Losing a child is something else.

It’s still raw now, I know this. It will potentially progress in the way it did for my dad, and I’ll manage a bit better each day, perhaps. But honestly, I don’t think so. I won’t ever stop and think about it and feel the sadness and the happiness. There’s no happiness in it. No happy memories; there are barely even memories sometimes. I’m a new, sad person. Which is why, in an odd way that enables me to function in the day, I don’t let myself stop and think about him too often, apart from the hundreds of times throughout each day he’s in my head. I know that probably makes no sense, but I don’t stop thinking of him ever, while at the same time I don’t stop and think of him. Because I wouldn’t start again. I would lie on the ground, push my nose into the earth and ask her to swallow me up.

Don’t get me wrong — my life is full of happiness: of living, breathing miracles and hours of pure joy. It just runs alongside an aching river of sad (which is such a small word for such a huge feeling).

Breathing through the sad. That’s all anyone can do. And breathe the happiness in.

It doesn’t get easier, you just keep breathing.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Child Loss

4 Reasons Why I Want Another Child After Losing One

I lost my daughter Braylee on December 6, 2015. I had her when I was 18 years old. She was diagnosed with agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC). ACC is a rare congenital disorder in which there is a complete or partial absence of the corpus callosum, the area connecting the two hemispheres in the [...]

The Death of a Child Has No Comparison

When you lose a child, people automatically want to find some way to connect with you; it’s human nature I guess. When you experience a death like that, it changes you as a person; the person you thought you were almost instantly is gone. There’s a shadow that covers the world, as you are forced [...]

When You Live Your Life on the Verge of Tears After Unbearable Loss

It’s hard to miss: the glassy eyes, the occasional blank stare. Ever since my triplets were born, I began living my life on the verge of tears. I’ll admit it, I’m a sap. I cry at commercials, tear up at weddings and sob every time I watch the movie “Marley and Me.” That’s just me — I [...]

When Your Child Is an Only Child, Even Though You Know He Isn’t

Our sons Charlie and Oliver will always be identical twins to us. But they are also individuals. We have had children, not a child. You can’t see Charlie, but we know Oliver has a brother. So when people ask us if Oliver is an only child, it hurts. It hurts because he’s not an only [...]