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What the World Doesn't See After You've Lost Your Child

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I woke up at the usual 3 a.m. screaming his name. My hair was covered in sweat and my face covered in tears. The saddest kind of tears — the tears that sleep can’t even combat. My body aches with anxiety and trembles with sadness. I soak my pillow case in tears for the third time this week, and it’s only Wednesday. I can’t even comprehend how the world keeps spinning. My son Parker, he left this world too soon at the age of 10 months.

As I transition back into adulthood, I yearn to have a typical conversation with adults, but what is “typical” now anyways? My life revolved around occupational therapy techniques, syringes and the sound of nurses flipping through their paper charts. I don’t know how to have conversations anymore. All my recent conversations with adults revolved around medication dosing and nurse scheduling.

My heart races each time a social situation approaches. Questions clutter my mind. Are they uncomfortable? If I say his name will the conversation end?

Trying to navigate a life where your child no longer exists in is excruciatingly painful. How does the world continue spinning, while mine is falling apart? It’s hard to keep my feet planted, when my son is in another place.

The attributes I loved about my son –his kindness and caring — find me when I need it most. I use the attributes I love about him to ease myself back into a social world. I hold my heart often, because I know that’s where he now resides.

However, there’s a side the world doesn’t see.

When it’s quiet at night, the panic attacks find me. For 10 months my home was never quiet. The sound of machines and nurses washing syringes echoed my quiet home. I continue to push through the quietness by smelling his shirt or snuggling his bear. Parker’s smell can calm my tears.

If you’re uncomfortable socializing with a newly grieving mother, please understand we are just as uncomfortable.

That mother, like me, may find solace in your warmth.

If you’re afraid you may say the wrong thing, you won’t.

The simple act of saying hello or striking up a conversation may give that fragile mother the confidence to approach her day.

Kindness really matters, so fight through the awkwardness and support one another.

We are fighting a battle every night that you will never witness.

Your simple act of kindness will mean more than you know. 

Originally published: March 13, 2019
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