“Following the loss of a child, parents will often hear the well-intentioned words, “You’ve got to be strong. You have to pull it together for the rest of the family. You can’t keep this crying and sadness going forever.” Where did this false notion of “keeping strong for everyone else” come from? How about “grieve as hard and as long as you need so that you can work through some of this pain and torment of losing a child”? How about, “You don’t need to be strong right now. I’m here for you to lean on. I’ll carry you when you feel like you can’t go on.” How about, “You’re human, and your heart has been shredded apart by this loss. There’s nothing wrong with you for crying at unexpected times and for having some really horribly bad days.” It’s time we validate child loss for what it is — the most painful, agonizing loss anyone will ever have to endure. No parent owes an explanation or apology for shedding tears. When your heart breaks from losing a child, it weeps, and it weeps a lot!” – Silent Grief – Child Loss Support
Seriously! Our due date is this Friday, Mother’s Day is the following weekend – these are some “really horribly bad days,” and that’s okay. Just let me have them. It’s allowed. I’m allowed to cry. Don’t try and fix me. Unless your name is God, you can’t fix this. So just let me cry, offer a hug and a prayer, and just try and understand that my tears are normal and they are healthy. This is how I’m supposed to feel right now. You would worry more if I acted as if nothing happened. The hurt is deep because the love is deep. I know I am strong. I know I will get through this. But please understand that I will NEVER get over it.
There are only so many well-intentioned words that you can hear before you want to just shut them all out.
If you are talking to someone who has just suffered the unimaginable loss of their child – and trust me it is unimaginable – don’t offer cliched sentiments that can be found on Hallmark cards – trust me we’ve already heard them all. Be sincere. It is better to say honestly, “I don’t know what to say,” than to tell us one more time that this was all a part of God’s plan. Trust me. I’ve been in church as long as I can remember. I understand all about God’s plan. I know that he knew exactly how and when Joshua Patrick Denney was going to be born and He knew exactly how and when Joshua Patrick Denney was going to return to Heaven. I know that. It still doesn’t offer much comfort when I wake up in the middle of the night from another nightmare where I just watched my son take his last breath for the 100th time.
Knowing that God could tell me the number of each beautiful little brown curly hair upon his head, does not bring me comfort when I see a mom and dad out with their newborn baby and have to force myself not to stare as the tears stream down my cheeks.
To know that God is going to use my pain and hurt for His glory somehow (and honestly I so pray that He does) doesn’t bring me comfort right now when my arms ache from the desire to hold my son.
The cliched words are just empty promises when you are stuck right in the middle of the deep sorrow and hurt. You wouldn’t tell someone that had lost their leg that it’s okay, they’ll have another one some day, so why do you think telling me that Patrick and we will have another child will make the hurt go away. A part of heart was torn away from us, you can’t just replace that. Every family photo that we take, every family vacation, there will ALWAYS be someone missing. Every first that we may be blessed enough to have with another child in the future is just one more first that we will never get to have with Joshua.
I wouldn’t tell you that one of your living children could be replaced, so don’t tell me that my Joshua will be replaced. I may not agree with the way the Duggar Family has chosen to live their lives, but even a family with 19 kids still grieved when they lost their baby girl – No. 20. Every child is special and unique. Every loss is special and unique. Don’t compare.
Please don’t tell us that you understand unless you yourself have felt the pain of losing a child, and if you have I am so deeply, deeply sorry for your loss. I have lost many family members including both my father and my grandmother who I was incredibly close to. This pain, this grief, it is so much different and so much bigger than anything I have ever experienced before in my life. Losing a child, especially a baby, is having to grieve not just the loss of Joshua the person, but also the hopes and dreams we had for him. We had to grieve the loss of not walking out of the hospital with car seat in tow. We had to grieve the loss of never picking a coming home outfit, of never giving him his first bath, of never rocking him to sleep in the middle of the night. We’ve had to grieve the loss of never bringing him home, of never proudly introducing him to our family and friends. We will continue to grieve so many days and memories we wanted to share have with him: trips to the park, the zoo, baseball games, vacations, play dates with cousins and friends, first days of school, graduations, a lifetime of memories we will never get to have that we had spent months dreaming of and preparing for. The loss of a child is a loss like no other. Unless you have walked this road, please don’t try and explain the journey.
Unfortunately, even the “professionals” don’t seem to know what to say in these situations. In this journey we have seen a few different psychologists or counselors (still haven’t found one we like yet) and one actually made things worse. She was young, and I assume just didn’t really know any better, but she tried to compare the loss of our son to her parent’s getting divorced recently…Seriously? How does that compare? You went to school for this whole psychology thing, right? Why on earth would you think that the grief from your parents divorcing while you are in your twenties could ever compare to our grief of losing our son.
Once again, I’ve seemed to have lost track of my point. I guess all I’m trying to say is if you are talking to someone who has lost a child – be kind, be gentle, be patient, be supportive, and just be there. Sitting in silence is fine. Sometimes the only thing we are looking for is a shoulder to lean/cry on. We don’t need flowery words.
Patrick and I will get through this, we’ll never get over it, but we will get through it. I know I have many more tear-filled nights ahead of me, and I’m okay with that. Grief is a process. It’s slow and painful, but it’s necessary for healing. I’m okay with the tears. I hope you will be too.