Watching a friend experience the loss of their baby and the grief that remains can feel so helpless. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach to support a grieving friend through loss, but there are many ways to be supportive. When my daughter died at 33-days-old, it was the first loss of this type…
You know what I hate?
When people compare their losses.
I know it’s human. I remember losing Matthew and women telling me they knew how I felt because they’d suffered an early miscarriage and me thinking they were nuts because there was NO comparison. Losing a baby at 8 weeks could not have POSSIBLY hurt as much as me coming home from the hospital, shell-shocked, to an empty nursery full of things for my fully termed and perfectly healthy-but-dead son.
And then my heart softened. I realized their hurt over their losses didn’t have to compare to mine and bless their hearts, they’d probably not received anywhere near the support I’d received and were simply trying to connect. To comfort me. To relate. To be related to…because let’s just be real—pregnancy loss in the form miscarriage is often looked at very differently than pregnancy loss when full-term babies are born and die. When pictures of daddies holding babies taking their last breaths exist. The tangibility of that loss always seems to be more real to people than the loss of an earlier gestation period.
Losing Trey certainly proved that concept to me.
But here’s what I hate more…
What gnaws at me pretty much every night as I say my prayers of gratitude and thanks…
That I compare mine too.
That loss has forced me into feelings that I detest.
Ranking my own losses. My own children.
Each day that I move further and further away from Matthew’s birth and death is one more day that I feel closer and closer to Luke.
Each day, I fall more and more in love with Luke and can’t imagine my life without him.
But seem to accept more easily my life without Matthew.
I hate that I even separate them in sentences. They are both my sons. Both were wanted desperately. Both were fought for under miserable medical conditions. Both are Luke’s brothers.
But even I have to say that losing Matthew was so very different on me (and John) than losing Trey.
And more, I hate that loss makes me feel guilty sometimes about loving Luke so much.
Makes me feel guilty because I rank my love for my children.
Luke. Matthew. Trey.
No one ranks living children. Everyone says they love their children differently but equally. For different reasons. No one ranks their love of living children.
But loss forces me to rank mine, even though God knows I don’t want to or mean to. Luke lives. He breathes. He grows. He does amazing and funny and adorable things and our relationship develops and grows. Just as it should.
Loss stagnates relationships. It keeps them stuck in time—freezes my children as the babies they were when they died.
It’s hard to develop and maintain a relationship with someone who can’t grow and develop with you.
So when people tell me, or any other mother who has lost a child, to ‘move on’, I wonder if they realize how hard that is?
How, though grateful beyond grateful for the opportunity to raise Luke, my crazy and overwhelming love for him really leaves me with a guilt I wasn’t prepared for. Moving on means leaving our dead children BEHIND because their death has suspended our relationship forever in time. Our living children get to come WITH us as they grow and we grow together.
Loss has forced me to recognize a truth that shoots guilt through my heart on a regular basis.
I feel like I love Luke more.
Like any relationship that grows over time…because it’s fed with communication and interaction and engagement…the relationship I have with Luke is so much deeper and stronger than with Matthew and with Trey.
Guilt that loss heaps on me in loads.
Guilt that no one talks about because it sounds horrible and terrible.
And it is.