Why Nothing Is Impossible Now

Photo Credit:  Angela Miller

Photo Credit: Angela Miller

This morning as I was drying my hair I felt the all-too-familiar feeling of my heart lurching up into my throat.  Anxiety— it’s as normal to me now as breathing.

My littlest guy slept all night without a peep.  I, of course, had to go in three (or maybe more) times between the hours of 7am and 8am.  Just to make sure his little chest was moving up and down, breathing in and out, in and out.  Just to make sure all was as it should be.

Never mind he simply could have been really tired and was showing me his new-found skill of sleeping twelve plus hours straight.  Never mind he was safely comfy and cozy in his cocoon of a bed.  Never mind it was still totally dark out– the perfect environment for more sleep.  Never mind those pre-loss days of parenthood when I would’ve been counting my blessings for every extra hour of sleep.  Never mind any normal assumption!  Those died right along with my first born son some time ago.

I used to be a super-chillaxed mama.  To the nth degree. 
Before.

I used to be the eternal optimist, not always thinking of every. Single. Possible. Worst. Case. Scenario.
Before. 

I used to believe in the overall good of humanity and trust that most people had good intentions.
Before. 

I used to believe if someone was pregnant, it meant a dimply, rubber band rolled baby at the end of it.
Before.

I used to believe if I had a baby, he’d outlive me to be at least 100.
Before.

Now I know better.  Now, I know there are absolutely no guarantees about anything in life.  Since my bubble has been burst, I know that babies and children can die from all kinds of things.  Things I never used to think about.  Things that I thought would never effect my life.  Things that were happening over there.  In that other place.  Far, far away from me.

Before, I might have tried to keep my distance from people like me, so I wouldn’t become one of them, one of us.  (I hope I didn’t, but who knows, maybe I did?)

Now, some of my closest friends are those whose children soar with my own, in spaces and places we can’t even fathom. 

And now, in addition to fears that are a part of most parent’s psyche, mine also include an infinite number of other fears I could not have concocted before my loss.  Every minute of parenting after loss feels like perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop.  For me, it looks a little something like this:

When my baby sleeps in a couple hours later than normal…
I think, this it it– here we go again. 

When my toddler falls down and hits his head at the playground…
I think, this it it– here we go again. 

When both my kids come down with a horrible cold…
I think, this it it– here we go again. 

When my husband and kids arrive an hour (or who am I kidding, 10 minutes!) later than expected…
I think, this it it– here we go again. 

When I’m pregnant, whether it’s day 1 or week 41…
I think, this it it– here we go again.

I live in almost constant fear of something happening again.  Any time, anywhere I expect to find another dividing line– another before and after.  Another potential shattering of what is.

Gone are the blissful days of being the kind of mom whose greatest worries are ear infections, and keeping up with the onslaught of age appropriate Baby Center milestone emails spewed into my inbox.  Gone are the days of being able to make casual small talk with other moms and actually feel like I fit in, like we could become good friends.  Gone are the days of envisioning my children’s entire lives before them– from birth, to their wedding day, to the day they have their own children.  Gone are the days of worrying if my oldest is potty trained “on time,” if his speaking skills are on par with others his age and if he’ll get into our top preschool of choice.  Gone is the innocence of being a non-bereaved parent.  Gone is anything “normal.” 

After my son died, I became instantly childless.  But I was still a parent, and still a mom, even though the world tried to tell me otherwise.  The lack of acknowledgment that I was still a mother only added to my unspeakable suffering.   

No matter what the world tries to tell you– yes, you are still a parent!  

We are all still parenting our children, whether or not the world can see them, whether or not the world knows or acknowledges that we are parents.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise!  Especially not those who cannot possibly understand what it is like to be us– bereaved parents– every minute of every day.

Photo credit:  Angela Miller

Photo credit: Angela Miller

I’m certain there is no harder role on earth than being a parent of a dead child.  None.  Add to that also trying to parent living children, and we’ve just won an unofficial contest in h-a-r-d.  This is why I believe every bereaved parent in the world deserves a lifetime of recognition for their unending strength and courage and grit.

Carrying around the weight of what we carry, all day, every day, would be enough to make most people give up on life.  The fact that we are still here, still standing, still fighting, still breathing, still loving, still getting out of bed every morning, still smiling, still laughing, still crying, still being real and true to our emotions, still grieving, still living, still surviving, still mothering and fathering our precious children is nothing short of amazing.

So I’m here to remind you that you are a living miracle.  Yes, you are.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Please remind yourself often, too.

Give yourself huge props for a job well done.  Treat yourself every day!  To a huge piece of cake.  A long leisurely walk.  A whole day to do anything you want.  You deserve it (even if you don’t think you do.)  You are the definition of resilience.  And courage.  And strength.  Be gentle and gracious and endlessly proud of yourself.  Proud that you are a survivor.  Proud of your immense strength to continue living in the face of the unthinkable.

Parenting after loss is over-seasoned with too much of everything that can destroy a person— too much fear, too much sadness, too much anxiety, too much bittersweet and much too much of that pervasive sick-to-your-stomach worry.  And it’s significantly under-seasoned with too little of all that could make it infinitely more bearable— ongoing support, compassion, understanding, unconditional love.

Being the parent of a dead child is the hardest.  Job.  On.  Earth.  Period.

And we’re doing it.  Which means there is absolutely nothing we can’t do.

Nothing. 

Don’t ever forget it.


  • Comment through Facebook

    comments

    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.

    RELATED POSTS

    2 Comments

    1. Reply

      Nora

      September 21, 2016

      I am so sorry for your loss of your precious child. I can only imagine the sadness, pain, love,and other emotions you hold in your heart. I hope that you will have a peace enter your life to help with your pain.

    2. Reply

      Linda

      September 25, 2016

      You are inspiring! You speak the raw truth, and always have an uplifting ending.

    LEAVE A COMMENT