I thought I knew what grief and mourning were before our son died. In my mind’s eye, I always imagined it was a period of time where one feels deep sorrow for the passing of a loved one, whether it be a family member or friend. I imagined the grief would eventually come to an end. You would find peace with this loved one’s death. After all, death is a part of life.
I thought one would just learn to be ok with that person no longer here. Maybe some people are like that. Maybe some people can let go and move on. But when it comes to the death of a child I have learned that grief is never-ending, messy, complicated, and tortuous.
Related: The Pain of Easing Grief
While grief certainly changes with time, the grief and mourning one has for their child are part of a lifelong process. There is no moving on, letting go, or getting over the death of one’s child. There is only learning how to manage and live with the daily pain and heartache, and figuring out who you are now and your new “normal” in life.
Our infant son, Turner, died 10 months ago. His death was completely unexpected and has left me a shell of the person I once was. In the very early days, the fog was so heavy I wasn’t even sure what day it was most of the time. My brain seized to function with any kind of normal ability. Tasks that were once easy to perform felt like an impossible feat. I couldn’t remember simple things and constantly felt like I was in a dream-like state. Each time I’d wake up I’d think it was all just a dream, but then reality would hit me like a freight train. Constantly reminding me this WAS my reality.
I had just given birth at 38 weeks to a beautiful baby boy and he never came home with me. Rather my arms were achingly empty, my heart was shattered, and my soul was crushed beyond repair. My insides felt as if they had been put in a blender then tossed back into my body. I was left to figure out how to put everything back in place. I still haven’t figure out how to piece everything back together to this day.
I was constantly left asking myself how all of this happened? Why me? Why my innocent beautiful perfect little boy? Why my husband? Why my 4 living children? Why did any of this happen to our family? 10 months later I still ask these questions, but they don’t weigh nearly as heavy on my heart. I think I’ll always wonder all the “whys?” surrounding our son’s death, but I know the answers I seek won’t be given to me here on this earth.
Related: Hope, Despair, and Being Honest
What I’ve learned these last 10 months is that the grief and mourning I have for my son’s death is constant. There isn’t a second of every day I don’t think of him, his absence, or am painfully aware of what he should be doing. The grief isn’t paralyzing every day anymore, where I feel like I can’t breathe, rather it’s still my shadow following me around. I can feel when the heavy grief waves are quickly approaching. The ones where I am immediately back in that hospital room finding out our son died. My world shattering all over again, as if it was happening for the very first time.
I’ve learned how to manage most days where I am a functioning mother and wife, but I don’t feel like the person I was before by any means. That woman is gone. She died that day with my son. Her innocence and beauty buried that day with him.
The woman I am now is a work in progress. She carries a heaviness in her heart only she can see and feel. She loves ALL five of her children more fiercely than anyone can imagine. She carries a child the world can no longer see with her everywhere she goes. She tries her best to show compassion to others because she is painfully aware that some lifelong wounds can’t be seen with the human eye. She is taking one day at a time and knows today might be an ok day, but tomorrow might bring her to her knees all over again. She constantly gets back up time and time again knowing she has no choice but to try her best at figuring out how to live the rest of her life without one of her precious children. She is ever changing in this refiners fire no one ever wants to be in. She is surviving day by day hoping and praying she finds the day where she can say she is truly living again.