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6 Things I Wish People Understood About Losing My Child

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Losing a child is the most horrific thing can happen to a parent. You are not suppose to outlive your children. Our daughter had a brain injury at birth. She was on a ventilator and not expected to live. As parents, we had to make the unthinkable decision when she was 6 hours old to remove her from life support. No parent should ever have to make those decisions.

Our little Meggie and God had other plans. She fought from second one to stay around. Her whole life she fought. Her life was filled with love and laughter. I believe she was the most courageous, sweet, caring, loving soul on earth. We were blessed to be her parents.

As a parent of a child who was medically fragile, every day I told myself she would probably go before me. I tried to prepare myself for that but there is no way you can prepare yourself for when your child dies. For us, having to remove her from the respirator once again 20 years later, and her leaving our earthly world, was really more than I could handle. Watching your child take her last breath is a vision that never leaves your mind.

I want to help those of us who have lost a child and perhaps the rest of society who hasn’t lost a child.

1. Talking about my child is important to me.

When you are around me, remember my child with me. Talk about our daughter; the memories you have. If you had a dream or saw a child that reminded you of our daughter, tell us. We don’t want her memory forgotten. It is OK if we cry; it is OK if you cry. It’s OK if we get emotional. We kind of sweep grief under the rug in America. You have the death, the funeral, everybody goes on with their lives. No one seems to really talk about the feelings and emotions that you go through after losing a child. No, you can’t understand if you haven’t lost a child. You can say, “I can only imagine,”  but, as much as you say you can only imagine, I’m here to tell you, no, you cannot even begin to understand. And you don’t want to. You can only begin to understand if you are in this “group,” and we pray that you never become a member. Unfortunately, our group grows every day. We have members whose children have died from car accident, murder, cancer, suicide and so much more. We are all one. Our losses are horrendous. Even though our circumstances are different, our loss feels the same. We all had a child ripped from our lives. It doesn’t matter to us if our child was an infant or 40 years old. We feel that same pain, that same loss. We all have to deal with the “how” our child left this earth. We are one.

2. The pain is raw.

We now live in a different realm. You don’t know if you can get out of bed, where the pain is so deep that you sometimes have to slap yourself to breathe. The pain is both emotional and physical. Some days it feels like someone sucker punched you in the gut. Your body literally aches. Emotionally, you are in a hollow tunnel as if you are watching life go on around you. You are trying ever so hard to be a part of that, but you are still in that fog. It is almost like it isn’t real. You are in a nightmare and pray you will wake up.

3. There is no timeline for grieving.

Everyone grieves differently. Please don’t tell a parent who has lost a child that it has been long enough and they need to move on. You see, we are battling the child we lost and trying to live this new life. We are trying ever so hard to be happy with life. Most of the time we are putting on “a mask of strength” and going through the motions. When we plan our vacations or go to weddings or events, we are still struggling with how to do this without our child who has gone to heaven. Be patient with us. Our sacred was taken from our lives.

4. “Focus on your living children,” they say.

Believe me, we are! We are putting our mask of happiness and strength and carrying on for our children still on earth. We believe our heavenly child wants this, we want this. We don’t cry or break down in front of them. We hold it in. We smile and know they are struggling, too. We are trying to make life as happy and normal for them as we can, letting them know they are loved. We tell them they are the most precious love in our lives. We want to move on for them, so we do our best. But, we do so with guilt. We know our child is gone and we have to move on. But our hearts are still so broken on the inside, it is hard to do these things and know that a part of your heart won’t be there doing them with you. Again, be patient with us, we are trying.

5. Holidays and Anniversaries.

Our children’s birthdays, holidays and the anniversary of their deaths can be hard for us. On those days, call your friends and let them know you are thinking of them and their child that day. These are hard days. For many of us, we are reliving that day when our child was taken from this world. It doesn’t matter if our child has been gone, days, months or years.  These days are bittersweet reminders of what once was, and what will never be.

6. Faith.

For some of us who have faith based beliefs, we believe our child is in heaven with our Father. I believe she is completely healed and free and I revel in this. This is what brings me comfort. My faith in our Lord is what gets me through the days. You really get slapped in the face with how you are not in control here. I get on your knees and thank the Lord for the precious time he let me be this most beautiful soul’s parent. I believe my daughter is in a place where I hope to join her someday. Because I believe in Jesus Christ, I take comfort that she is in heaven. This brings me amazing peace. As a human parent, I still long to have her back in my arms and back in our lives. It’s a delicate balancing act.

In closing, I just ask, that you be patient with us bereaved parent. Be kind and understanding. We are doing the best we can. Be there for us, help us to remember our children’s memories. If we post something on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and whatever other social media, comment to us that our child will never be forgotten. We want to know that just because time has to go on, you will help us keep our children’s memories alive.

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Originally published: July 6, 2017
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