Today I quietly celebrate my son’s birth. Although he would be the age of a man, he will forever be a child to me.
Grief is a funny thing. It knows no bound of time. It tugs on emotions and memories and tempts a sane person to dwell too long into the thoughts of “what if.”
Regardless if loss is over a child, parent, spouse, or other loved one, grief is often judged. In our world of social media, what’s newsworthy today will be pushed aside tomorrow. Loss is often viewed similarly. After three months, six months, maybe a year, we are encouraged to get over our loss and move on.
I’ve made a few observations over the years. Grief is no respecter of person. It will strike anyone and for any loss. Although my conclusions may apply to various forms of grief, here are thoughts based on my experience and those of other mothers I’ve talked with.
We Never Get Over It
Grief is forever because loss is forever. From the day a child is born they became a living breathing piece of their mother. When they die, that piece is gone.
Every day I see evidence of my son. He is in the faces of all my children. His mischievous nature and playful personality are reflected in each of his siblings. They are all unique individuals, so I’m always caught off guard. It’s so quick. They share his smile. My daughter looks up just right with the same dark shaded eyes. I am constantly reminded of him, and I miss him.
I will always miss my son. I miss his presence. I will not get over it, because his absence from this life is forever.
We Feel Guilty
We feel guilty to live. I know that probably sounds illogical. The pain of losing a child is so raw. We fight a desire to protect ourselves by guarding our hearts and pushing others away. Even our other children.
We feel guilty in expressing love for our other children as a voice of question always comes. “Do you love them more…..can you protect them……” It’s a battle to let down our guard and love the people in our lives.
We carry so many emotions. We remind ourselves not to give in to fear. We pour out love to the children still with us. We force ourselves not to hold them too tight. We take deep slow breaths when our hearts yearn for what is lost.
There is guilt in living when our child cannot. But, we push on.
We Sometimes Blame Ourselves
There is not a mother I know that would not give her life for her child. If I could have taken cancer from my son, I would have willingly taken the burden. It’s a helpless feeling to watch your child suffer and be able to do nothing.
We always wonder if there was something more we could have done. Some treatment or medication. Did we pray enough? Was our faith not strong enough?
We Will Never Forget
As the years pass, we will never forget. A birthday, the anniversary of their death, and holidays can be especially hard. We don’t want to experience these days without them. They are absent, and we cannot ever again share these moments with them.
Please Don’t Say Stupid Things
The only comforting words I received when my son passed were, “I’m so sorry,” and “I am praying for you.”
Others made discouraging comments. Those who felt confused about why God would call a child home questioned if my faith had not been strong enough. They could not understand why he wasn’t healed.
Don’t brush off our grief by reminding us of eternity. I know my son is with Jesus. He openly shared his love and trust in the Lord. I know one day we will have a glorious reunion. Although I look forward to that day, I live today missing my child.
Please, please, don’t tell us you know what we are going through and then compare it to the loss of a beloved cat or dog.
Listen and Share
Sometimes we need to talk about our loss. Regardless of how many years it has been, memories and emotions will flood the boundaries of time. Sharing our memories means they are not forgotten. We cannot forget. Sharing allows the memories to be greater than the pain of loss.
If you knew our child, remember them. Maybe you recall how they always had a sweet smile. If they said or did something that impacted you, please don’t keep it to yourself. Hearing your memories brings us comfort.
Grief knows no bound of time. Today there is no birthday cake. For a moment I wonder what if, and think of what gift I might have gotten him. I consider if he would have been in college, or even married. I only let my thoughts stray for a second. Instead, I offer a prayer of thanks for the eight years I had with him, and for the glorious reunion that is yet to come.