Til Death Do Us Part

Guest Post by Jana

It was about 24 hours after our 21 day old was admitted to the hospital.

Time was standing still and flying by at the same time. Things were swirling around our heads – thoughts, fears, confusion, exhaustion – it was too much to handle. We sat side by side on the tiny, scratchy sofa in the room forever dubbed the “Oh Sh*t Room” and listened to a doctor tell us that our son would die.

I remember, very vividly, two things after that and then things went right back to being a blur.

The first is that when those words were spoken, that he had suffered too many strokes and was brain dead, I gasped and made noise that sounded like something out of a horror movie. I heard and saw myself from above my body. I could see it happening and couldn’t stop it. My husband made the same type of noises. Nothing was held back. It was a moment I wish I could wash from my brain.

The second, and likely most important thing I remember, is that once the doctor handed us a fresh box of Kleenex and left the Oh Sh*t Room, we gathered ourselves enough to form a coherent thought. The very first thing my husband said to me as he gripped my hands and we held on to each other for dear life, was “Jana, we’re NOT going to be a statistic.”

Our first son, Charlie, died 3 days later. He was 24 days old.

I honestly don’t know what the statistics are on divorce after the loss of a child anymore. Depending on where you look, you see everything from 15% to 90%. I’m sure it’s somewhere in the middle of that. At any rate, the death of a child is sometimes a breaking point for a family. We have been determined from day one not to let that happen.

How do we keep from being that statistic? We attribute it to three different things.

Jason and I grieve together. While we are supportive in the different ways that we grieve individually, we take time to recognize that we needed to be angry together and let each other off the hook when we were feeling guilty.

We grieve openly – even 9 years later. I’m sure it makes people uncomfortable, but both of us talk about him often. Holding on to the few memories we have is important, and when others remember him, that gives us a huge sense of peace.

We include our son, Henry in conversations about Charlie. Henry is very protective of his brother and tells everyone he knows about him. Instilling a love between them is very important to our family dynamic.

Jason and I share one of the most beautiful and most heartbreaking moments any two people can: the act of both bringing a child into the world and holding him in our arms as he left this world.

It’s a connection that will be the tie that binds our relationship til death do us part.

You can find Jana on her blog, and read more about Charlie’s story here.

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