Still Standing

My Parenting Was Questioned The Day My Son Died

“Please do not think I am judging you.” Those were her words.

But she was.

She went on to tell me she, “Could NEVER imagine leaving my dying child in the hospital and opening Christmas gifts with another, when my child was literally DYING on Christmas Day.”

Related: Holiday Tips for Friends/Family of Stillbirth Parents

My heart started beating more rapidly. I was choking back angry tears as I continued reading her comment.

Because she was the mother of a 4-year old (the same age my daughter was), that made her an expert on what children that age would understand about death. She claimed to know exactly what she would do in that same situation. Yet, as she says, “I feel your pain,” she has never lost a child.

You really don’t know what you will do when you lose a child… until it happens. What I imagined it would be like and what it actually is, they are two very different things.

Yes, my son died on Christmas Day. However, what she didn’t know was the fact that he was already gone when we made our decision. Machines were the only thing keeping him going. Doctors told us it was on our timetable.

As our entire family jumped on planes to be there, we made an impossible decision. Beyond impossible! We chose to leave the hospital for two hours to be with our daughter. There was no “celebration” of Christmas. We simply didn’t want her to hear the news from someone else. It needed to come from us before everyone arrived. We had only hours. While we were there, we let her open her gifts. She deserved that much on Christmas.

Death has this annoying way of busting in and breaking up the party. Taking a perfectly normal day and turning it upside down. Any ounce of control you had instantly becomes null and void. You are at its mercy.

In those moments, you are often faced with impossible situations… decisions… emotions. At least that is how it happened when my 7-year old son died.

The day you lose your child is unforgettable. Obviously. Every thought, certain words, decisions made, all of the emotions, sights and smells of everything around you… it gets seared into your brain. These things become triggers for the memory later. It’s a trauma.

Related: Why you will never fully understand my grief experience as a bereaved mother

As a loss parent, you feel constant guilt. Even for things that were out of your control. Judgement from others has no place here. Ours is heavy enough on its own.

“I just don’t understand how…” is how she ended it.

She’s right. She doesn’t understand. As I fight back my rage and grit my teeth, I take a deep breath. I hope she never does.

Photo Credit: Kat Smith | Pexels




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