puzzle of grief

Photo credit: Melissa Russell

My life before losing Aiden was like a puzzle where the pieces were coming together to form the picture I had always imagined for my life. I had finished university, earning two degrees that interested me. I had a loving and supportive family who I was grateful for. I had a close group of friends who I loved and had fun with. I had travelled to some amazing places. I had married the man I loved. We bought our first house, it was cute and cozy and our first home together. We got a cute little dog that was full of energy and personality that we adored. We sold our first home and built another that was beyond what I ever expected we would have. And then we decided to have a baby. I got pregnant fairly quickly and easily. Aside from some nausea in the beginning, I had a seemingly normal and happy pregnancy. I felt good and we were nervously excited to meet our baby boy and become parents.


The whole puzzle wasn’t in place yet, but it was coming together exactly as I had always hoped and imagined my life would.


Then Aiden was born and we learned that he would not live.


The puzzle that I had been carefully piecing together was suddenly thrown upside down, scattering the pieces everywhere. Some pieces disappeared when we lost Aiden and I will never be able to get them back. They will be lost for the rest of my life. Slowly over time, I began putting the pieces back together, but the picture doesn’t line up like it did before. The pieces were mixed up now, with the missing pieces leaving holes where important parts of the picture used to be. The picture that I was building before is unrecognizable now.


On the outside it would seem that my life now is good, and in many ways it is more that I could have asked for. We have two beautifully healthy children. We are still married and still committed to loving each other. And although I am beyond grateful for all of the wonderful things in our life, the grief of losing a child changes you in ways that can never be undone. It is against nature’s law to watch your child die. It should always be the parents that go first, no parent should ever have to watch their child die. We are finding our new normal in our lives, celebrating the wonderful parts we are so grateful for, but always remembering the parts that are missing, our sweet boy and the life he never got to live.


Although everyone experiences losses and changes in their lives that shuffle their puzzle pieces or knock a few pieces off that need to be put back together, losing a child, being forced to watch him suffer and die in your arms, is not something you can live through without it changing you to your very core. The pain of losing Aiden turned my whole puzzle upside down, every piece was knocked off, some lost forever. The picture I had been putting together on my puzzle doesn’t exist anymore, the pieces were all messed up and put back together in a way that doesn’t make sense. No picture could be made out, just a bunch of random pieces, not forming a cohesive picture.


Today, almost five years after losing Aiden, as I look at the puzzle of my life, the picture isn’t as messed up as it once was. The pieces are going back together slowly, but not the way they had before. A new picture is beginning to form out of the jumble of mixed up pieces. There will always be missing pieces now, and the new picture is never what I imagined it would be. But I am building a new picture, embracing the good and remembering the awful. For all of it has made me who I am. All of it is my life. Even the painful parts are precious to me because they mean my sweet boy was here, he lived, and we loved him and will always love him.