To another grieving mother-
There is nothing anyone can say or do to take away the pain you are experiencing. I know the pain deeply of losing my daughter Aria, and I’m so incredibly sorry you know the pain of losing your child. This pain is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I was told in the beginning, that I have to walk through grief. That I cannot shove it away or hide from it, and I have found that to be so true. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up on the other side of grief, yet- I couldn’t. I knew I had to walk through grief. This is something I would offer to you. Grief does not go away even when we pretend it’s not there. Grief will wait, patiently, until either you choose to face it, or it cannot be held in anymore.
The emotions that come are so painful and difficult to face. I had never felt such pain, anger, sadness, depression, apathy, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and numbness. I never knew emotions could have such depth. You are not going crazy when you too, experience these. You have experienced such a tremendous loss, and you are having a normal response to the grief you are feeling. Face those emotions head on, don’t be afraid of them. The more you fight them, the stronger they get. When we allow them to flow through us, they go through and dissipate for that moment.
You have experienced something that cannot be explained and something that goes against the normal cycle of life. We as parents, should die before our children, not be burying them. I know you feel shattered and broken. I hated when people told me I was strong. I didn’t feel strong, I felt helpless and like I was just trying to survive. That is how it is in the beginning. Surviving one minute to the next minute. Somewhere along the way, I started surviving hour by hour, then day of day, month by month. This timeline will be different for you. At some point you will realize that it’s not the minutes you are trying to survive but the months.
I know you wonder how you are still standing every day. It seems like the most unfathomable thing to survive? How in the world is life continuing on when my child is dead? How am I still alive? How can I keep going? I’ve many times looked around and been surprised that I’m still standing. I’ve found that the grief that was so crushing in the beginning is still on my shoulders, but my legs have gotten stronger to be able to carry that grief. I am still standing today, and as you work and learn to carry your grief, your legs can also get stronger to carry it.
Losing Aria has changed me forever. On such a deep level I am a different person. Yes there are glimmers of the old me, some parts I wish I could have back, and others I’m thankful for have changed. If you are like me, you will long and grieve your old life. The old you. I’m sorry. You are a different person, and it’s okay to grieve who you once were. You might find ways that you can appreciate who you have become, and maybe you won’t. There might be blessings that you can find, and maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s up to you to navigate and not for anyone else to tell you.
We are connected through child loss. This is the pain that cannot be explained for described to anyone else. I wish I could make it better. I wish I could change things. I wish I could say ‘you will learn to get over it someday’ or that ‘there are 5 neat little steps to grief and then you are good’. I can’t. I cannot do anything to make your grief lighter or easier. I cannot change the past and neither can you- and that HURTS! I know that grief stays with us the rest of our lives, and while you never need to get over it, you can learn to carry it. I also know, there is no linear step-by-step plan for grief. It’s a crazy roller coaster that each of us will experience in our own time. There is not a plan or road map to follow. It’s a web of crisscrossing emotions that come and go.
Please sweet Mama, take care of yourself. Grieve. Allow yourself to be in your emotions. Learn to recognize what you are feeling and experiencing. You deserve the time and the space to process what you are experiencing. You are the only one that can do the hard work of grief, and you are the only one who can make the choice to keep living in this life. We can choose if we want to continue fighting for light and joy in our lives, or if we want to die in our hearts when our child has died. You are here for a reason, I believe that so deeply. Allow yourself to grieve, allow yourself space, allow yourself love, allow yourself to remember, but please, also allow yourself to live.