Dear Newly Bereaved Parent

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This will likely be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Survive this. And eventually, maybe even thrive again.

At times it will feel virtually impossible. You’ll wonder how a human being can survive such pain. You’ll learn you know how to defy the impossible. You did it from the moment your child’s heart stopped, and yours kept beating. You do it with every breath and step you take. You’re doing it now. And now. And now.

Your fingernails will become bloodied from clawing your way from the depths of despair. Your spirit will grow weary from fighting to survive. Your eyes will cry more tears than you ever thought possible. Your arms will ache an ache for which there aren’t words. For a lifetime.

Your heart will break into a million tiny pieces. You’ll wonder how it will ever mend again.

But with every morsel of unspeakable pain, there is love. An abundance of love. A love so strong, so powerful, it will buoy you. You will not drown.

Others will say things that are intended to be helpful, but aren’t. Take what is, leave what isn’t.

Still, you’ll meet others along the journey who will get it without ever saying a word. Kind souls who will breathe you back to life again. Let them.

Years down the road you’ll tire of hearing the same advice and clichés, over and over again. Advice you don’t want or need. Everyone will try to tell you how to best “fix” your broken heart. The trouble is, you don’t need fixing.

There is no fix for this.

Eventually you’ll learn how to carry the weight of this pain. At times it will crush you. At other times you’ll learn how to shoulder the burden with newfound grit and grace. Either way, you’ll learn how to bend with the weight of it.

It will not break you. Not entirely.

And even if you don’t believe in hope– not even a little– hope will light the way for you. At times you won’t realize your path is lit. The darkness feels all consuming when you’re in it. But know the light is there. Surrounding you now. And now. And now.

Know you’re being guided, by all of us who have survived this impossible hell. You may not hear us, or see us, but we are with you. Beside you. Hand in hand, heart to heart. Always. Just like your child still is.

Above all else, know that no one can save you but yourself. You are the heroine/hero of this sad story. You are the one who gets to decide how, and if, you’ll survive this. You are the one who will figure out a way to survive the sleepless nights, and the endless days. You are the one who will decide if and when you’ll find a purpose again that means something to you. You are the one who will choose how you’ll live with the pain. You are the one who will decide what you’ll to cling to, what will make your life worth living again. You, and only you, get to decide how you’ll survive.

No one else can do this for you.

People will speak of “closure,” of “moving on,” of “getting over it,” of grief coming to an end. Smile kindly, and know, anyone who says these things hasn’t lived this thing called grief.

To lose a child is to lose the very heart and soul of you. It is overwhelmingly disorienting. It takes a long, long time to find yourself again. It takes a long time to grow new life around the chasm of such grave loss. It takes a long time to grow beauty from ashes.

There will always be a hole in your heart, the size and shape of your child. Your child is absolutely irreplaceable. Nothing will fill the void your child left. But your heart will grow bigger– beautifully bigger– around the empty space your child left behind.

The love and pain you carry for your precious child will be woven into every thread of your being. It will fuel you to do things you never dreamed you could do.

Eventually, you’ll figure out how to live for both of you. It will be beautiful, and it will be hard.

But, the love you two share will carry you through. You will spread this love everywhere you go.

Eventually, you’ll be able to see again. Eventually, you’ll find your way again. Eventually, you’ll realize you survived.


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    Angela Miller

    Angela Miller

    Angela Miller is a writer, speaker and grief advocate who provides support and solace to those who are grieving the loss of a child. She is the author of You Are the Mother Of All Mothers: A Message Of Hope For the Grieving Heart , founder of the award-winning online community A Bed For My Heart, writer for the Open to Hope Foundation and Still Standing Magazine. Angela writes candidly about child loss and grief without sugar coating the reality of life after loss. Her writing and her book have been featured in Forbes, Psychology Today, MPR, BlogTalk Radio, Open to Hope Radio and Writerly, among others. When she’s not writing, traveling, or healing hearts, you can find Angela making every moment count with her two beautiful, blue-eyed boys. Join Angela's compassionate village at A Bed For My Heart.

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    23 Comments

    1. Reply

      Susan

      January 27, 2016

      It has been 9 years for me. thank you for this

    2. Reply

      Toni Newville

      January 27, 2016

      It will be 30 years for my son John who was in the Navy in Japan. He was killed in a motorcycle accident. Then 19 years ago we lost our youngest son in a car accident! Both boys were beautiful sons and we miss them every day! But we go on because we have a great family and lots of grandchildren! Life is good!

      • Reply

        Patricia West

        January 28, 2016

        Yes has been 34 years since my 17 year son was killed in a drunk driver hit and run and not a day goes by without a thought a name goes by that he is not in my thoughts and prayers. I tried everything to get over it and to forget the heart ache but by turning my life over to God is what got me through and the strength my daughters gave me I surived and am here today.. God answer’s prayer.

    3. Reply

      Kiki deVille

      January 27, 2016

      Incredible article. Thank you xxx

    4. Reply

      Liz

      January 27, 2016

      My son would have been a year old yesterday. I only got 3 months with him. I needed this today. Sometimes I just feel so alone

    5. Reply

      Joella

      January 27, 2016

      This is so well said..perfect ..doesn’t seem like it but its been 23 years and I I always miss my angel Gianni!

    6. Reply

      Lois

      January 27, 2016

      Exactly how I wish I could have expressed it. Thank you.

    7. Reply

      Vanessa Krysevig Rynard

      January 28, 2016

      I lost my son 6 years ago and sometimes it seems like only yesterday. The grief has changed, but never has fully healed. The person, the mother I was has changed also and I realize I will never be the same. I curled up in a ball to survive, I crawled to survive, today I am standing! At times I felt little hope and some days abundance. People say I am so very strong. I am not.. I have found myself crying in a cornfield, hidden under a picnic table just hoping the that pain, that grief would go away. Today I am standing! How, by grace, by mercy, by the same mighty father that is holding my son he holds me. All the questions I have asked, the reasons I will never understand, will never really mater when I see his face again (Clint Douglas) Your Mom loves you and that will never change. (Clint’s Mom) Vanessa

    8. Reply

      Mike

      January 28, 2016

      Our Jeri would be 36 soon. Gone 13 years. We survived…..barely. Life was so good, now I’m still so tired. No longer paralyzed by waiting for the “next bad thing to happen”. It already has. Found my faith in Jesus with the hope of seeing her again and the most wonderful gift of our soon to be 3 granddaughter Beth. Article very well written and true.

    9. Reply

      Deidra martino

      January 28, 2016

      This is absolutely beautiful , My son Mark passed away a year ago feb 21st . I still have not even begun to figure life out . But thank you!!!!!

    10. Reply

      Lauren

      January 28, 2016

      33 years ago my first baby was stillborn. People say time heals….. the pain never goes away, but it does lessen.

    11. Reply

      Nancy Wollenberg-Kostelnik

      January 28, 2016

      I lost my daughter Lauren November 14, 2015. Lauren was 29 years old. I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that she is gone. Your article pretty much touches every emotion I am experiencing at this time. Thank you for putting some of my feelings into words, for at this point I am not capable of explaining my feelings.

      • Reply

        Phyllis

        February 1, 2016

        I lost my daughter Oct 28, 2015. This is a wonderful helpful article!! My daughter was 58 years old and had fought thru breast cancer, then a terrible wreck and fought for five years to regain her life!! Then within a eek she was gone from lung cancer which we did not know she had!! It has been such a shock and loss that I am fighting to survive!!! My heart is broken in so many pieces !! Thank you for this article because it describes my many, many feeling of loss!!!

    12. Reply

      Rael Reddick

      January 28, 2016

      Thank you for your words and lighting a path that seems so dark. 1 month ago today I lost my son Eric at only 27 years old. I find myself still holding my breath. I can’t fathom feeling this way the rest of my life but how could I not? It’s a loss that is all consuming!!!

    13. Reply

      Beth

      January 28, 2016

      This is exactly how I have been feeling but couldn’t put it into words. My best friend and daughter passed away in November of 2015 and life will never be the same.

    14. Reply

      Dallas

      January 29, 2016

      It’s been 4 years since my son (and mom) left this world after their car was hit by an 18 wheeler. Right after the funeral I asked my pastor, “when will this dispair pass? When will I be able to talk about the good memories without falling apart?” I asked this more than once. There had been so much good in his 15 years of life and the car accident was not the story of him (or my mom) just how he died. Knowing my analytical mind, pastor finally told me, “Three years. You will be able to share stories and smile about him without falling apart, in three years. “. Somehow, this helped. And has proven to be true.

    15. Reply

      Jolene

      January 30, 2016

      Thank you for writing this. It has been 5 month since I lost my 35 year old son John.

    16. Reply

      Ida

      January 30, 2016

      This Year will be 13 …. Still some days are better than others but it still seems like yesterday. My daughter has now been gone longer than I was lucky enough to have her.

    17. Reply

      Ann Marie

      January 31, 2016

      Thank you so much for these hopeful words on an unspeakable horror. My 27 year old daughter Kelly was taken from us 5 years ago in a auto accident. I am broken and will always be. The hole in my heart is large and unhealed Every day for 5 years I wake up thinking of her. The waves of grief come and go and our lives go on. I am different now, less joyful, less hopeful, more fearful but I survived. I am blessed to have a loving husband and family. My surviving daughter has gifted us with a beautiful grandson who is now 3 and reminds me so much of his Aunt Kelly that sometimes it frightens me.Life is different be we live and I do believe that the joy will come back to our lives one day. It gets easier but it never stops hurting

    18. Reply

      Jami

      January 31, 2016

      Adam Reid. November 19, 2014, 7 years old. <3

    19. Reply

      Ida Hagg

      January 31, 2016

      Reading these comments from parents who have lost their children has helped me. I lost my son 8 months ago and feel so alone in my grief. I could never quite describe my profound broken heart until now. He was a Veteran with PTSD and he took his own life on May 30, 2015. Thank you. Ida

    20. Reply

      Jeff

      February 5, 2016

      Just reading everyone’s comments helps me. We lost our 30 year old son on December 21, 2015. Made for a tough Christmas. But God is good. We are making it via prayers, tears and great family and friends. Thank you all for posting.

    21. Reply

      Gail Francis

      July 27, 2016

      I lost my son Neil July 10 2016 I am broken

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