“What I Wish Everyone Understood About Child Loss”

Nobody ever plans on child loss becoming part of their life, yet the sad fact is that every day children die and parents are left grieving the loss of their child.  This journey of grief is not an easy one.  In fact, this is the most difficult path a parent will ever walk.  The journey is long, lasting a lifetime.  There’s no way to get off of this road.  It is now the road that must be traveled every day for as long as a parent of child loss remains alive.

My life has been turned upside down and inside out by child loss and like so many others I was naïve enough to think it wouldn’t happen.  Yet, it did.  My son was snatched away without warning and now there are only memories to fill the huge hole that has been left in the center of my heart and soul.  Child loss is such a misunderstood loss by the majority of people.  Truthfully, I’m a bit tired of saying, “Unless you’ve walked in these shoes, you’ll never know what it feels like.”  While that’s true, others can at least get a good grasp on what this void feels like if they really sit down and try to imagine what one day would be without the life of their own child.

I wish others understood the magnitude of this loss.  I wish they understood that losing a child causes permanent changes to the very core of a parent.  I wish they understood that you can have a rock solid faith and still cry yourself to sleep every night because the hole in your heart hurts so bad.

Oh, how much I wish others could grasp what it means to know with absolute certainty that your child will never appear on this earth again.  Never again will we, the parents of child loss, get to see or touch our child again.  We will never see life in our child’s eyes again.  We will never be able to share any laughter with our child.  We will never………….do anything with our child ever again.

Our child is now a memory living within our heart and our fear is that the memory of our child will fade over time.

One of the most difficult moments I had  was seeing my son shortly before he was buried.  I know that this is the tradition we have practiced in this country for years, but in a lot of ways it is brutally cruel.

I wanted “one last time” with my son, yet there were people standing around. Why can’t people understand that a mother needs one final moment all alone with her child? 

I wish I would have screamed, “Get out.  This is MY son.  I gave birth to him, and I want to be the very last person to see him now that he’s gone!” , but I was polite instead.  Oh, how much I wish I had tossed aside my manners and climbed up close to Mike and cried for hours and hours while holding him “one last time.”

I wish others understood not to ever rush a mother at the funeral home.  The clock means nothing to a mother anymore.  She simply wants “one last time” with her child.

I ran my fingers across his face, his lips, his hair.  My son.  My beautiful son.  There was so much left that I wanted to tell him.  I wanted it to be just me and him.  A mother and her son.

My tears drenched the shirt he was wearing as he laid so stoically in the casket.  I wanted to yell out in fear and anger, “Why did you do this?  Why did you leave like this?  Didn’t you know I wanted to be with you when you died?  I’m your mother!  I wanted to be the one with you, not the EMT’s — strangers pounding on your heart trying to get your heart to beat one more time.”

I want others to know that I wanted to be the one to say, “He’s gone.” 

I’m Mike’s mother.  I want others to know that I wanted to be the one with him when he left this earth.

I want others to know that mothers have different feelings about child loss than anyone else.  We carried our child’s body inside of us.  We gave life to our child.  We felt the miracle of life happening in every cell within us. We lived and breathed with our child for nine months.  Our body sheltered our child, fed our child, nurtured our child.

I want the world to know that when a child dies, part of a mother dies, too, and that part that died cannot be revived ever again.  Oh, she can fake it, but a mother knows that part of her died the very moment her child died.  That’s what I’d like others to know.

I wish others knew how important it is to have our child remembered.  I’m finding one of my biggest fears is Mike being forgotten.  I’m so afraid his memory will fade each year until I’m the only one who remembers.

I’m so afraid my son’s life no longer counts…………… 

I want others to know that even though life goes on, it will never go on the same for a mother of child loss.  Mike is forever forty-two.  He will never grow older, and that saddens me so much.  I found some emails Mike had sent to me shortly before his death. He was planning a way to move his family “back home.”  He wanted me to keep it a secret until he could get the details worked out.  He knew he could sell his three children on the idea, but he was going to have a harder time convincing his wife to move from Tennessee to Pennsylvania.

I want others to know that my son had plans but he didn’t get to see them carried out.  His life ended far too soon. 

Life is going on all about us, and every parent of child loss realizes that.  But, we want YOU to realize that life isn’t going on for us as easily.  Every day without our child is a struggle.  Living with part of yourself gone isn’t easy.  We fight hard every day to find a reason to smile about the future and most days it’s so very difficult.

I want others to know that the pain of child loss never goes away. 

The. Pain. Never. Goes. Away.

Love,

Clara — Forever Mike’s mom

*NOTE:  During the first year after Mike’s death, I wrote a book on child loss.  It was my way of presenting a gift to the world that I knew would make my son proud.  My dream (years ago) was to be interviewed by Oprah.  That never happened, BUT Mike gave me many, many pep talks throughout the years telling me that I could have a show like Oprah.  He dreamed dreams with me.  I miss that so much!  This book is a piece of my heart, and also a piece of Mike’s heart.  Thank you for sharing in his life and mine! 

Do you feel lost and without hope?  Child loss throws us into a scary, frightening place for a long time.  Hope 365 is not just any book.  This book is one that gives 365, easy to read, short mediations for the grieving heart.  I follow this book every day.  It helps!  It really, really helps!

 

You may also like

68 Comments

  1. One of the saddest things we have had to deal with is those who were his ” friends” on Facebook who never write on his page and stopped after 1 year. They do not realize that it is not for him– it is for us so that we “know” they have not forgotten him.. It has made me so angry that I spoke to the family and if they do not write on his page in October for the 2nd year of his passing I will remove them off his Friends list. My dh and I have been so all alone since Dan died. Our daughter comes and visits us 1-1/4 hours each way once a fortnight and we visit her and other son lives in Australia. Nearly every friend we had before Dan had his accident have walked away from us and that is after we did everything we could do to help them in times of hardship in their lives– that is really hard to take. The Bible says to treat others as you want to be treated and so we do as a couple but in reality the world is full of takers who don’t give a dam when you are the one who is suffering. I do not know what I would have done without the Silent Grief page on Facebook when I had no one else.

    1. Karen, Believe me I understand what you’re saying about friends slowly walking out of our lives. I don’t know what happens. How do they forget so quickly? Is our child’s name too much of a burden or intrusion into the busy days of their lives? It’s so hurtful — terribly hurtful — when others walk on so quickly. Most of us go through this very thing. We can cry. We can tell others how we feel. Yet…..they continue to walk on. This makes me very sad, too. My love to you. I pray the Silent Grief page will continue to be a blessing to you.

    2. Someone wrote a disconcerting post on Shaun’s Facebook page soy son’s widow deleted his page. I have y not yet figured out how to bring it back 🙁

      1. My sons wife deleted his FB page within days of his passing. He was my only child, I NEED to see a page with pics. I created my own, put up family pics, his own, him and his family. Makes me feel connected, and I can control it. It will NEVER e deleted.

    3. I soo can relate to a lot of your story.I lost my baby girl at age 20 in a vehicle accident 10 years ago.Kristine has a beautiful boy that i tried to help raise after her death. I feel the same way about the last time i seen my girl alive. It’s torture but i still keep seeing us over again. Ifeel like i am not so much as living but am only exsisting and am over the years gotten worse as in,i hate to even leave my house. Do my shopping at night most times. Everything i loved to do is no longer fun or exciting. I find it so hard to feel joyful about anything anymore. I’ve tried years of counselling and don’t feel like it really helped. I feel like a burden to my family and friends because i can’t be happy for them. I def am not fun to hang out with but i feel so misunderstood. 🙁

    4. Clara, thank you so much for writing. Your words are so helpful, so precise as though you are in my head. It helps to know I am not alone. I guess we joined a club we never intended nor hoped to join. I feel forever broken losing Brandon a few months ago, he would have turned 21 in June. We had so many plans this year. He made me so proud to call him son. Brandon was funny, happy, outgoing, adventurous, loyal, loving and faithful child. I miss him. Thank you for telling us about Mike. Perhaps our son will meet in Heaven. Keep writing please. I promise to keep reading. You were called to write for the rest of us in the club. Thank you

      1. Diane, How very sorry I am for the loss of your precious son, Brandon. He sounds like such an amazing young man! Life can be brutally painful, and this is most definitely one of the most painful times we will ever have to endure.

        I smiled at the thought of Mike and Brandon being together. Believe me, Mike is making sure that everyone in heaven is having a wonderful time! I hope they are smiling down on us right this very minute!

    5. Thisjourney so difficult and so painful in every way. Dear God, how long will you allow this suffering? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is our lifetime. This seems like such a waste of time, so many years left, just barely surviving.

      I used to think that being a Godly mom to my two boys and Godly wife to my husband was my purpose in life. I have definitely been derailed from this purpose. I truly feel God has a different purpose in my life. I don’t know what it is but I do know that I love to encourage other mom’s and be there for them and with them. I know how tremendously difficult it was for me the last three years to have all family members disown you. My husband was still around physically, but incapable of being there for me emotionally. It has been an extremely painful and also a very dark and lonely place.

      I didn’t have a funeral, nor a wake or viewing for my son. We chose to have my son cremated but I did get to have time with my son before hand. I am truly grateful for that time I had with him.

      Our son was given to us in a small square box with his name on the box. That is still the case, three years later. I feel strongly that something needs to be done but nmy husband and my only remaining son, do not want to talk about it. Somhe is in my closet, in a box….so very sad….

  2. Daar Clara,
    It’s now about 5 years that I’m following you. Every time you are just writing down my feelings.
    Today again! We feel exactly the same (only one difference… Hope and faith. I don’t know anything anymore and I feel terrebly lost about it. I would it was proven that there is life after dead.

    It’s so sad I can’t explain my self in English. I can’t express exactly what I want to tell you.

    This time this: (please forgive me. I fill in my boy’s name) :”(

    I’m struggeling for years because I was polite and I didn’t send them away! I want éd so much to be alone with my boy, to emphytéotique my heart, but they were there…

    “I wanted “one last time” with my son, yet there were people standing around. Why can’t people understand that a mother needs one final moment all alone with her child?

    I wish I would have screamed, “Get out. This is MY son. I gave birth to him, and I want to be the very last person to see him now that he’s gone!” , but I was polite instead. Oh, how much I wish I had tossed aside my manners and climbed up close to Ýounes and cried for hours and hours while holding him “one last time.”
    —-

    And it hurts sooooo much I didn’t.

    I wanted to thank you because me from Belgium found support, like your skin, in America!but at the same time, It’s difficult because if you feel like this, it means that you lost too and I’m so sorry for that!!!

    I’m still on holiday. I should be home by Saterday. I will order your books.

    Thank you for helping us!

    Big hug
    Elke MEIRLAEN
    Belgium

    1. I’m so sorry. My cellphone changed so many words. I didn noticed it. Sorry for that. Elke

    2. Dear Elke, There is no need for you to apologize for your phone typing words you didn’t mean to type. I understand your heart. That’s all that counts. We are sisters in grief, such a say way for us to meet. I hope and pray your heart will receive comfort and some peace as you and I both travel along this journey together. I think the books will help. My love to you.

    3. I didnt send everyone away…I didnt feel the need to. Everyone else disappeard to me when my time to say goodbye came. I stroked his face…I ran my fingers over his hair. And then I leaned close to his fance and sang Amazing Grace to him like I did when he was a baby and it was naptime. Then I kissed his cheek and walked away so his 3 month pregnant wife could say her final goodbye to him.
      9 years gone by and it still feels like yesterday.

  3. I feel everything just like you said..I lost my beautiful daughter at 38 June 15, 2016.
    I just can’t live without her.
    I am so sorry you lost you beautiful boy..
    Love,
    Joni

    1. Joni, I wish we were sitting in a room talking. I would reach over and give you a big, tearful hug. My love to you. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughter.

    2. Joni
      I am so sorry for the passing of your beautiful daughter 💓 I am sending you love and prayers for Gods peace, love, comfort, guidance, healing and yes JOY!
      My 8 year old grandson passed away after going back home from living with my husband and I for almost a year. Ten months later his parents took him on a camping trip to his favorite campground and he fell in the river. He was one of the 7 drownings within two weeks.
      We were lost!!

      Psalm 18:1-2 KJV
      [1] I will love thee, O Lord , my strength. [2] The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

  4. You express so well what I felt / feel / live with everyday. I never assume others feel the same. I hate the words past away or sorry for your loss…..he is dead and that is my reality that I struggled so hard to come to terms with only to realize you never come to terms with it. There is no way others whose children have not died can ever understand what it is like to walk around with a gaping hole in your heart and wonder why and how it still beats.

    1. Patricia, It’s so hard to get on paper what we’re feeling in our hearts, but you’re so very right. Nobody can really understand that pain of trying to get up each day with that huge hole right in the center of our hearts. The pain is indescribable. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

    2. I cant say or refer to it as the D word or the K word…. it’s 9 years and I still say the day of his accident…or the day he left us. I think Im teying to trick myself into thinking he’s just on holiday…or at work….or anything but what reality is.

  5. i’m sorry for your loss of mike. i lost my stephanie @ 34, my only child, at the hands of my son-in-law. i don’t think about healing, i worry about surviving today.

    1. Karen, How tragic. How very, very tragic. I’m so sorry for the loss of your precious Stephanie. I try to imagine what a loss like yours would be like — so many different levels of grief. I can only cry with you, and tell you that I’m holding you close in prayer right this very minute.

  6. You said it so prefectly. I felt lostmy , gone, I felt guilty it wasn’t me instead. I feel all alone in this world wondering about the aimlessly with no purpose to life. I find it not fair for friends to tell me that they are going to be grandparents. What about me and my son’s dreams?

    1. Anna, Those are the very things that others just don’t seem to get. They talk and ramble on often without taking into consideration even a little of what we are feeling every single day of our lives. Sometimes we have to pour out our hearts and just let the grief flow through our tears. My love to you. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

    2. Anna Sawczuk-Biebl said………….
      I feel all alone in this world wondering about the aimlessly with no purpose to life

      Me too Anna
      Karen

  7. I just recently lost my 11 yr old son unexpectedly, someone I know had lost her son and posted this. I couldn’t make it through reading this without crying my eyes out because every word of this is so very very true.

    1. Katie, I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your sweet boy. There are some things in life that are just too hard, and losing a child is one of them. My love to you. I pray for peace to find its way to your broken heart.

  8. All I want to say is Thank you for writing this. It is so much how my life has been. But could never put into words.My mind is not what it use to be after loss. It’s hard not being whole.

    1. Tina, It really is hard to put into words what our heart feels, isn’t it? The tears were flowing when I wrote this…..I just opened my heart and prayed I could express on paper what my heart was feeling. I feel such an humble responsibility to be a voice for us.

  9. You said it all so beautifully. I am so afraid my son will fade away like he did with his cancer. Thank you for putting it in words for me.

    1. Cindy, I think that’s a universal fear among us. We’re so very afraid our children will become nothing more than a memory in the past to others. I’m constantly using Mike’s name when talking, but I can tell already that others are getting tired of me doing that. Those are the things that really pierce the heart.

  10. Love to you, Clara. We stand as one in our grief. Our collective tears creating a pool of love around our hearts.

    1. Lori, Thank you so much. Yes, we sure do stand as one in our grief. This is such a difficult journey to travel.

  11. So very sorry for your loss…I wanted everything as well as you mentioned here. My Son “Richard Felix Franco” my only child too young to be gone too soon. He’s Forever 33…the pain is real the struggle is real. I miss my Son more than any words can ever explain what I feel or go thru every single day of my life. It’s been 16 agonizing months without my Son and it don’t get any easier. My Son is my Hero my my Handsome my everything…..
    I miss you dearly 😢😭

  12. So very sorry for your loss…I wanted everything as well as you mentioned here. My Son “Richard Felix Franco” my only child too young to be gone too soon. He’s Forever 33…the pain is real the struggle is real. I miss my Son more than any words can ever explain what I feel or go thru every single day of my life. It’s been 16 agonizing months without my Son and it don’t get any easier. My Son is my Hero my Handsome my everything…..
    I miss you dearly 😢😭

    1. Edna, Oh, how much I identify with what you’ve said. I’m so very glad that you’ve used your son’s name “Richard Felix Franco” — such a beautiful, strong name! I think there is of a big misconception from others that life will somehow get easier a few months after child loss. That’s so untrue. In fact, for a long time life gets more difficult because everything comes crashing in and suddenly becomes all-too-real! I’m so very sorry for the loss of your Hero, your Son. My love to you.

  13. I say it all the time – I don’t have the words to explain the pain or what I’m feeling. I talk about my daughter a lot and I know that it makes some uncomfortable but I don’t want her to be forgotten, she existed. The pain I go through every day is real and I don’t want her forgotten. She was important, she mattered and she will forever be 21. The life we now have to lead is scary and filled with excruciating pain so do demean what we endure every day by forgetting our child.

    1. Missy, I’m so sorry for the loss of your daughter. Yes, it does make others uncomfortable when we talk about our children who are no longer here, BUT it’s something we do because, as you said, we never want our child to be forgotten. Our child’s life mattered….and will always matter. Keeping our child’s memory alive is part of what we do as a mom. My thoughts are with you. I hope today is a more gentle day in your grief.

  14. I wish no one would ever have to live this sorrow. in 5 days I will send Balloons to heave to mark my Son Joel’s 5th Angelversary.. this morning has been one of those very dark days..
    reliving that day .. I have come to terms that God has a plan… the call I made to my son the people who answered the phone, I knew he was gone… that moment my life has forever changed.
    Nothing will ever be the same order.
    But there was a sense of how important my role in life would also forever change.. 2 little girls lost there daddy.. My son lost his brother and best friend… an Uncle was gone, a nephew, a cousin and great friend to those who knew him. But it was my Son <3 30 years young, a father of 2. My baby was gone. I was powerless, and I was the one who had to do it all.. Where my strength came from had to be God…for I was in a place of no return.. coming up of 5 years and living a new life one day at a time… always remembering my Son and knowing every breath I taking I am taking one for him as I speak his life and how he loved us all. his heart of Gold will live on in his little girls, I see my son in a different way … through my eyes he will always be by my sid ,in my heart and a piece of my soul already lives in Heaven. May God Grant us the Serenity to except the things we can not change, The Courage to change the things we can and the Wisdom to know the difference. Amen. God Bless Us with the Strength it takes Daily <3 living with loss By Kim Vasquez Barndt in loving memory of my Angel , My Son Joel Vallderruten..

    1. Kim, Thank you so much for sharing a little about your son Joel with us. I’m so glad you’re going to mark his 5th Angelversary with balloons — a loving tribute to a wonderful son. Thank you, also, for sharing the Serenity Prayer — something I’ve prayed thousands of times already. May the pain in your heart be comforted by knowing that your son is being watched over by the angels in heaven.

  15. It’s been almost 9 years since we lost our daughter. This is the first time on your blog. There are no words to express the emotions I felt while reading this post. Thank you. You put into words what I’ve been feeling these last 9 years. All I can do is sit and cry right now after reading this. Everything you said was so right on the mark. I hope it’s OK if I share this with friends on Facebook. Thank you again.

    1. Kandy, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your precious daughter. I found the words pouring from my heart through sobbing tears. As moms, I think these thoughts I’ve expressed are thoughts that pass through our minds constantly, but we often cannot find a way to express them. We hold back so many emotions as we try to get through each day. Sometimes it helps to have an outpouring of our grief — giving us a way to catch our breath before the next tidal wave of grief hits again. Losing a child is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through, and I know that this is a life-long journey for each and every one of us that has experienced the loss of a child.

      Yes, by all means share this. It is my prayer that this writing will be the mouthpiece for many, many of us.

  16. Thank you so much for your beautiful words. I too wanted to touch my son, hold him, be the last one to say I love you. But I was also too polite to scream at everyone to leave. Your honesty and brave way of saying everything each of us is thinking is beyond profound.
    Drew was 28 when he died in March 2015.
    My sweet, beautiful boy.
    I will never be the same.

    1. Chrissy, I’m so very sorry for the loss of you beautiful son, Drew. I don’t know why we feel we have to be polite all of the time. I’m finding that the more I travel along on this journey of grief, the more I’m understanding that it’s okay to give ourselves permission to grieve in the way that is best for us!

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. We are kindred in spirit and are traveling this very same journey called child loss. My love to you.

  17. My daughter Amy died 13 years ago the end of October. It is so interesting that without knowing each other we use so many of the same wordsto describe our feelings, words that wouldn’ be used by people who have not lost a child. I have been so fortunate that I have a small circle of friends who willingly listen to me talk about her and cry if I need to. And there are 3 of Amy’s friends that still make her a part of their lives. They still talk to her and about her. One friend was recently visiting and introduced her boyfriend to me, telling him, this is Amy’s mother. He said, I know Amy. You tell me a out her. Another of her friends that she had known since kindergarten sent me flowers for 11 years on the anniversary of her death. The other friend is expecting her 1st child and she talks about how her child will know Amy.

    We have a scholarship at the college where Amy went, to help other kids. Her name is in the forever vault and so long as the school is there, Amy will be remembered.

    This is not anything we ever get over. It is just something that becomes a part of what we are.

    1. Josie, Thank you so much for sharing such beautiful stories of Amy’s remembrance. How comforting to you to know that her friends still not only remember Amy, but include her in their everyday conversations! What a testament of love!

      I love the idea of a scholarship that you’ve set up in Amy’s name. That is so very wonderful and such a great way of sharing Amy with others!

      Thank you so much for your comments and for sharing. You’re so very right…………child loss isn’t something we ever get over. It does become part of who we are. My love to you.

  18. Oh Clara I have read many books about grieving parents, but your vivid words of child loss is the image of every grieving parent. My beautiful Angel forever 16 fought leukemia for 6 long years without a break until July 27th 2013 God called his name. And left me in this earth half dead, still believe in miracles and I know one day we’ll be reunited forever. Thanks for sharing your amazing story. Your words always give me peace.

    1. Brenda, I am so sorry for the long fight your beautiful Angel had with leukemia. Six years is a long, long time. One day with leukemia is a long time. I’m so very sorry. I believe in heaven, and I hold fast to that hope that we each will be reunited with our child again. What a wonderful thought that is! Hold fast to that miracle as that will get you through to the end. My love to you.

  19. Thank you for sharing with the world! I hung onto every word you set in ink, for those are my feelings as well. My son took his own life October 13, 2015! 10 very short months ago. I will never be the same! My Heart will always beat differently now:(. My faith is large, but the hole in my heart remains! May blessings abound! Christophersstory.com. In his memory!

    1. Jennifer, I think the majority of us share these feelings, but it’s just too hard to get those feelings out in a way that others understand. It’s my prayer that this message will travel around the world so that others will begin to understand just how difficult this journey of loss is for parents and families!

      I will take time to visit Christophersstory.com this evening. Thank you for sharing your precious son with us.

  20. Clara as I silently read this post just now I relived the very last moment I was allowed alone with my beautiful son Seth whom will forever be 15. We lost Seth on September 16, 2014. That Tuesday was the worst day of our lives losing him to suicide. No signs beforehand, nothing! My youngest of my three boys asked me privately if we could have Seth cremated so we could bring him home and I knew that was my only patio I had. I couldn’t imagine having to bury my baby in the ground and have to visit his grave sight to be close to him. Of course I said yes. My oldest son also agreed to our decision. We wanted Seth home where we could feel comforted knowing he was right here with us. We were allowed to see him at the funeral home briefly before cremation and I asked to have him where I could hold his hand one last time and caress his long beautiful fingers. They granted my request and had Seth wrapped in a blue blanket and his arm was placed outside the blanket for me to touch. I didn’t want to let go …EVER! That was going to be my last moment to ever touch my son. I was asked if I wanted to make a fingerprint from one of his fingers to have a charm made for a necklace. I did. I can feel the actual ridges of his fingerprint every time I rub it. It has his birthstone and death stone on the bevel of the charm. It’s beautiful. It was the last most sacred thing I could do with my child before his body was no longer on this earth. I miss him so dearly and yes it is indescribable to bear this pain and hurt I feel. The void in my soul! It can never be filled. Thank you for sharing your feelings in this post. It was like thoughts taken from my mind that I haven’t expressed to anyone…. my Michael Seth Hammonds will be forever my 15 yr old baby boy and I want him to always be remembered and never forgotten….God Bless you and your family and your Mike always be remembered!

    1. Sheila, Tears are rolling down my face right now. What a beautiful depiction of a mother’s love at at her final moments with her child before having to say that forever good-bye on earth. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful son, Michael Seth. How wonderful that you got to hold his hand, and be comforted by having those moments with him (as every mother should) before letting him go. What a wonderful idea to have a fingerprint from one of his fingers made into a charm. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve never heard of this, and it’s heartbreaking to me to know that I could have had something like this done when Mike died. There are so many things like this that many of us aren’t aware of. I hope to make a post that has ideas for comfort following the the loss of our child. That would be such an important resource for us to have!

      I’m so glad you have shared your son’s name — Michael Seth Hammonds — a strong, beautiful name. May your Michael Seth forever be remembered!

  21. Dear Clara, my godmother sent me the link to this page and I just read it and could not thank you enough for these words that mean so much to me. It validates that I’m not going crazy after loosing my son, Angelo Rangel on 5/28/16. He was only 14 years old!! A month shy of his 15th birthday!! I feel like some of the closest people in my life don’t understand why I am the way I am now. I Feel like my grieving comes in waves of pain and then the rest of the time I’m just numb or just simply angry. I lost my job on top of this all and just feel so lost. I wish I could go back to before may 28th.

  22. The month of August is the worst month of my life. 5 years since my son was killed in a motor accident aged 35. This year was particularly hard, I was totally stressed had spastic colon, nausea, sleep problems and anxiety attacks. August also involved his court case of culpable homicide and his birthday. Is it possible that others may have also suffered such extreme physical responses as these?

    1. Pat, I don’t know how much response you’ll get on a forum such as this, but it is very possible. What you’ve described are symptoms of severe grief anxiety and trauma. You’ve been through so very much and each one of the things (the 5-year-marker, the court case, your son’s birthday) are triggers of your deep pain. Many parents of loss supper forever from sleep problems and anxiety attacks as well as nightmares, social anxiety, fear of traveling, etc. Perhaps I will write an article soon about this. I’m sure we’d get a lot of feedback that would be so helpful to you and others. I’m so very, very sorry for all that you’re going through. Hopefully, when you get through the month of August, your grief will become a bit more manageable.

  23. Everything you say Clara, validates my feelings about the loss of my Kyle at age 23. September 1 he would be 33 years old. Along with losing a lot of what I thought were “close, caring friends”, I have managed to somehow push my daughter away. So in essence, I feel I lost both of my children most days even though she is very much alive and married now. She even went so far as to change his “In Loving Memory of” page on Facebook to a closed group. It had been public for 9 plus years. She said she got sick of me saying I wish she would just spend a little time with me. She lives ten miles away. I was mortified when I opened his page that day to say I love you and see the message that she had done this. Myself and a few of his close friends and her (only on occasion) were the only ones that would even look at the page. This was my way of keeping his memory alive. The 26 members can still view it but I feel Kyle’s own sister closed the door on people having a place to go to and write their thoughts. She barely speaks to me and has an excuse for everything. Imagine how alone I feel after losing so many friends, having no other family in the area and accepting this behavior from my only other child. I have been following you for awhile. I got your book today, the 2nd one. I will read it with the anticipation that it will give me some peace in my life. You are an amazing woman. We are all in this together. This article was priceless. I laid in bed at the hospital next to my son, whispered in his ear it was okay to let go and stayed there to see his eyes open and his lips blue. An image I will never forget. R.I.P. Kyle.

  24. As I read your words and those of the other mothers I feel such a sadness that so many other mothers have felt the loss of their baby. We all belong to this “club” that no one wants to belong too. Those around us want us to “get over” it, move on but it’s hard to do that when we’ve lost the most precious people of our lives. I lost both of my boys and have no future of grandchildren. My genes stop with me! I wonder what to do with my assets when I die? No one to pass down old photos, memories anything. Kind of a strange feeling… Michael was 21 when he decided to end his life on April 1, 1999. My world ceased moving and I wanted to die with him but I still had my son, James to be here for. James at the age of 17, hung around the wrong kids and was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up spending 17 years in prison. 1999 I buried one son and watched as my second son was sentenced to a 28 year prison sentence. That was one of my most devastating years in my lifetime and no mother should have to live through it. But I did and I put all of the energy I could muster up into supporting my son in prison and we made it through. When he finally got released to my home on January 6, 2015 I was ecstatic and so very happy I had my son back with me. I never wanted to let him go…ever and I hugged him every moment I could and told him how much I loved him only to lose him too on April 28, 2015. I had 4 of the most special and loving months in the past 20 years only to be subjected to burying another of my sons. I’ve lost many people in my life…grandparents, parents, husband, 4 brothers (3 under 50), aunt, uncle and 4 special cousins and they were all very difficult in there own way but none hurt as much as my babies! Yes, I worry that they’ll be forgotten by the few people that knew them and their lives will be for nothing but then again after a few generations were all forgotten anyways. I know God has my sons with Him and I will one day see them again and until then He still has a plan for my life and I will pray I will know and see that plan come to fruition! I will be faithful until then…Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life 💜 God Bless you all.

    1. Cathy, Every day working in the field of grief and loss I hear tragic stories. Yours is definitely a story of losses that is so very sad. You’ve expressed so well what you’ve been through as well as what you’re going through. I’m so very, very sorry for so much tragic loss to have touched your life.

      A thought struck me while reading these comments from you. You asked who you will leave your assets to when you die. Have you ever given thought to beginning something such as a scholarship fund or some kind of ongoing gift to an organization — perhaps something that would do with suicide as well as prison help for parents and children of those in prison? You could set these up in your children’s names and their legacy will live on forever. How wonderful that would be!

      As parents our greatest fear is most definitely that our children will be forgotten by everyone. That doesn’t have to be if we do something now to make certain that the beauty of our children’s lives continues to live on.

      I hope you will seriously consider doing something like I’ve mentioned. I would love have you let us all know that Michael and James will be honored and remembered through the charities set up in their names.

      My love and prayers to you.

  25. I too am a member of the club you so perfectly speak about Clara. My son Scott 31 died 3 months ago today.Scott was injured in a motorcycle accident in Sept of 2006. After near death he was left a functional quadriplegic to spend his life in a wheelchair till the end of time. I devoted my life to making sure he was cared for and never alone. I gave up everything, my every decision was based on what was best for him. He adapted well and kicked the hell out of life in a wheelchair. His death was unexpected and has left me devastated. Your words touch my heart and soul…I almost feel like you were able to reach into my heart and speak what I can’t seem to get out….He was my baby…I’m so very sad. Why do friends and family walk away when we need them more than ever? My heart ache is unbearable. Thank you for saying what I couldn’t

  26. I wish I could’ve been with Austin the night that he died. He was 19 and autistic, and living in a really good residential home. I wish I had known it was going to be his last night on earth so I could’ve held him. I have this bizarre notion that I could’ve kept him from being afraid–tho I’m sure he wasn’t afraid bc I believe he went to Heaven. But still, I wish I had been there. Coincidentally, I’m from PA too. Anyway, it was a month ago so I’m still struggling, but this site is really helping me 🙂

  27. Dear Clara, I found your article very moving. I have not lost a child myself and cannot imagine the pain it causes.
    But it made me so sad when you said that you know with certainty that your son will never return to this earth again. Also that you will never touch or see him again. I too have faith, and believe that our loved ones will indeed return to this earth after Jesus has returned. The resurrection is a definite promise that God makes in the Bible, once the earth has been renewed and restored. It never was God’s intention for people to die.
    I’ve discovered these truths in the book ‘Surprised by Hope’ by N.T. Wright, and also ‘Heaven, it’s not the end of the World ‘ by David Lawrence, which I found easier to read.
    I felt I really must pass on this information to you, and I pray I have not added to your pain in any way.
    Many blessings to you
    Jenny Hawes

  28. Thank you, Clara, for writing this. As others have said, my sentiments mirror yours very closely, for the most part. We never stop feeling the loss. Grief never ends. We just keep on trying to bravely face each day, each event, each step without our child.

  29. Dear Clara,, I agree with, and relate to and wish all of,, everything you wrote. All of it. Thank you <3 Mom of Sarah Emily Grace Kern "Keenie" 22 yrs old.

  30. I lost my baby daughter and then my husband(divorce). I want to move forward and try to build a family with someone new but I’m not having any luck. There is part of me that is stuck deep inside …I feel like I have to try and give my daughter another chance at life , her soul maybe, and some part of me is convinced that I have to do that with my ex. It’s absolutely insane but I feel like I’m abandoning her if I truly move on and meet someone else and god-willing make another child. It’s a head trip but it’s also very very deep. I need to try and bring her spirit with me into my next relationship and my new family but I really don’t know how.

    1. Mary, You’ve touched on so many really important aspects about child loss, one being the terrible guilt we feel when we do try to find joy in our lives once again. Grief is so tricky — it really does wreak havoc on our emotions. I hope that you’ll be able to take some steps towards taking care of yourself — minus any guilt. You can most definitely bring your daughter’s spirit with you. I always believe that my children live within me. Their spirit is with me always, just as your daughter’s spirit is with you. It takes time to walk forward in our grief. Give yourself that precious gift of time and continue to remind yourself often that your daughter would want her mama to be happy. That always helps me when guilt becomes too much.

  31. Thank you, Clara. I hadn’t named it as guilt but that’s exactly it. Thanks for your encouragement and for your work.

  32. My son was killed in a car accident on January 30th. We buried him on February 3rd. Now that all the decisions have been made and completed, the our of town family has left and everyone stopping at the house has slowed, I’m lost. I don’t want to breathe, I don’t want tobthink,bear or see anything! I want My baby, my one and only son, back!!! I’m lost, empty, angt6, frustrated and confused!!! I want My Isaiah back!!!

  33. Thank you for your articles and for allowing me to subscribe to your website. Here is my story: I lost my 30 year old daughter and her sweet girls, age 5 and 18 months on Nov 17th, 2016, shot in the head while they were sleeping, by her husband and babies father.Who then shot himself. The person they loved and adored the most. Up until that day he was one of the most loving, gentle and kind people you’d ever want to meet. A loving husband and father. He apparently was in a deep, dark depression, felt like a failure (long story, but all tied to his schooling and his inability to complete his phD, Masters, and to provide for his family); he kept his depression well contained and hidden by EVERYONE. They were well beloved in their Church congregation and my beatiful daughter and those precious little ones were my LIFE….3 bright lights that touched everyone they met! I CAN’T BEAR LIVING WITHOUT THEM and each day is excruciating. I am a religious person and I do know that someday I’ll be with them again, but none the less, the pain and agony of each day is unbearable. And then today, their beloved little Shihtzu passed away. Before they died, he showed no signs of illness. He had pancreatitis last week, which was treated successfully with antibiotics but he had a rare reaction to the meds and his liver started shutting down; then his other organs. As far as I know, he had no medical problems before the tragedy and my personal opinion is that he got sick and died due to grief of missing his beloved family. Now we are grieving for this sweet little boy, Amy’s last living connection; he was the sweetest little dog-they all loved him, but my daughter was particularly attached and treated him likehe was her child; called him her therapy dog, since he helped so much with her depression. How on how do I go on losing my 3 beloved family members on the same day…my darling daughter and my granddaughters–they are the love of my like (I say “are” as in present tense because I know their spirits are still alive). I died the same day as they did. I feel as if someone just reached in stole my very soul out of my body. Life is joyless and I can’t feel much hope for the future and don’t know how to walk the earth without them. I have another sweet daughter, age 20, and a loving husband and they are the ONLY reason I’m hanging on in this hell hole. Thank you for taking the time to read and I’m so sorry for all of our losses. God help us all!