Child Loss Is Not Past Tense
Condolences speak to the loss of a child as if it is past tense, an event we once had but are no longer experiencing. Losing a child is not a one-time event. Their death and the loss of your child from your life continues to be experienced over and over and over again.
There are no words of consolation when your child has died. No “I am sorry” that can alleviate the unimaginable pain you are experiencing.
I’m so sorry you went through that.
I’m sorry you experienced that.
I’m sorry that happened to you.
The loss of your child is felt each morning when you wake, each moment your eyes glance at a child of similar age, and as you shut your eyes each night. For those who continue to have other children, the loss reverberates as you watch your baby do all the things that their sibling should have done but never will.
When my son was born barely a year after my daughter died, I celebrated his life and mourned her death. It was such a complicated time to balance my grief and joy. Each time he learned something new, my heart was so full yet simultaneously ached with emptiness. When he rolled over, stood up, took his first step, and said his first word, I cried tears of joy for him… and tears of sadness for her.
Related: When Grief Takes Work And Time
As he has gotten older, the moments are thankfully less frequent, but the sentiment is the same. On his first day of preschool, when he became a big brother, as I dropped him off for kindergarten, and for his first soccer practice, my heart felt the pain of not sharing those experiences with my daughter. All of these life moments are monumental, they radiate the silence where my daughter should be.
I will never get those moments with her.
She never got those moments.
Time may have moved on, but the missing has not. There is a lifetime of missing the son or daughter who is no longer living. The loss of your child was not a one-time event that was experienced, processed, and forgotten. It was an event that continues to resurface during each reminder where your child should be growing alongside you but isn’t and never will be.