My heart has been broken, divided, smashed, and left empty by the loss of two children, an infant son and an adult son. I’m still in “recovery” and I will be for the rest of my life. I’ve come to understand that pain is the reality of child loss. At least I know what to expect. What I’m not okay with are the things that have been said to me following my losses! Why do people say these things to grieving parents? Do they think these comments will help? Do they not take time to think through what they’re saying? Or do they really believe what they’re saying will give comfort?
Maybe I’m sounding harsh, but I really wish that sometimes I had a neon sign above my head that said “don’t say these things to me!”
My son died. He died suddenly, without warning. On that warm day in May, the lives of so many people changed when my son’s life on this earth ended. He was the strong one in the family. He was the oldest brother and the one that the others looked up to always. He’s gone and our hearts are broken and life will never be the same again!
It is now going on two years since Mike died. Life has gone on for most everyone except his immediate family. For us, the pain is real. The pain is cruel. The longing for Mike overshadows every day in a million different ways. Our lives changed permanently when Mike died, and yet………..
I don’t remember much about holidays as a kid, but I do remember the first Father’s Day in our home after my young sister Carmella died. My dad was never the touchy-feely type of dad. In fact, getting a hug from him was a very rare thing. I can remember two times when I got a hug from him. He hugged me at my wedding, and he hugged me when I was pregnant with my first child.
This particular Father’s Day was going to be rough. As a kid of sixteen I knew it. I saw how terrible Mother’s Day was for my mom, so I was already bracing myself for what the day would be like for my dad. As kids we were taught that home-made things were always better than store bought. I know part of the reason was we were dirt poor. The other reason is that it’s true. Gifts from the heart mean so much more than something you can go buy at a store.
Child loss is traumatic. I will always remember the phone call I received saying, “They tried. They tried for over an hour, but they couldn’t save him.”
I was in bed at the time I received that life-changing call, and I can remember letting out moans that didn’t sound human. I’ve tried to hide that moment in the recesses of my mind, but I can’t. That’s just how trauma works. Every time the phone rings in the evening, I jump. My body tenses, and I begin screaming out, “Please, God! Please don’t let this happen again!”
And, that is a very, very, very difficult statement for me to say. Why? Because that one sentence makes child loss in my life “real.” I have suffered the pain of six miscarriages, one stillborn baby boy, and now most recently the sudden, unexpected death of my firstborn son.
My heart is broken. My grief cannot be described in words — only in feelings. And, I know with complete certainty that my life has been changed forever.