If you are a newly bereaved mom, first let me tell you I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry you have joined the club no one wants to be a part of. If we were in person, I would ask you to share your story, to tell me your child’s name.
I would tell you about how Liam and Sebastian were born and died on August 5, 2011. I hope you have a good support system around you and you feel ready to tell your family, friends, and coworkers what is helpful for you and what you need. I’m not a counselor or psychologist, but I want to encourage you to allow your grieving process to happen. Try not to get stuck in anger or to rush yourself through the stages. Grief isn’t something you’re going to check off your to-do list and then be done with it.
I encourage you, as my doctors and nurses did after my twins died, to attend a local support group meeting. I would tell you about how helpful M.E.N.D. and Resolve resources were that first year and how helpful support group meetings and Facebook groups have been. I would tell you the grief gets easier to bear but never goes away.
Mary, our nurse who cared for me in the hospital, and to whom I will forever be grateful for her compassion and kindness, came to the funeral. After the funeral, she gave me a big hug and whispered, “See? You can do this. You’re still standing. You’re still breathing. Just breathe.” And getting through one breath at a time, or one minute, one hour, one day, is sometimes all we can ask of ourselves.
Liam and Sebastian died almost seven years ago. I can tell their story now without crying. I laugh and I make plans for the future. I get frustrated about little things. I can listen to music. In those first months after they died, I couldn’t fathom that any of this was actually possible. I met bereaved parents who assured me this was true.
The days leading up to Mother’s Day are a time to reflect, remember, and to steel myself for actual Mother’s Day, a holiday that still stings a bit, even with my rainbow babies.
That’s the thing about this kind of loss. Losing a child upsets the natural order of things. We aren’t supposed to outlive our children, whether we are 15 or 115. When a child dies, parents grieve their child and also the future their child would have had. So that every holiday, milestone, birthday, life stage – however joyful – may also feel a bit like someone is missing.
But this loss also sparks a sort of clarity. You reprioritize things. People say life is short. My firstborn son lived 10 minutes. People say life is short but I say it isn’t long enough for everything I want to do. Any good thing I accomplish in this lifetime, however long it is, and any kindness I do, is in honor of my children. All of my children. The ones you see and the ones you don’t.
If you’re new to this club, that no one wants to be a part of, I want to tell you again how sorry I am for your loss. I’m sending you hugs across the internet. And I am wishing you peace and lightness and comfort this Mother’s Day.