Death has a funny way of teaching us about life and love. The early days of my grief were filled with questions, sorrow, and bitterness. Four years later, I am able to pick out some life lessons I’ve learned through the death of my son. Let’s face it, I’d rather have him here than to have the wisdom of what his death taught me. But, I can’t undo it. Believe me, I’ve begged and pleaded with the universe. The fact remains the same. He was sick. He died. I will miss him with the rise of each day. The lessons I’ve learned about life through his death provide a sense of longing, but also gratitude. No matter how painful these lessons have been to learn, they are his gift to me.
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1. We have little control.
This one sucks but is so true. As scary as it is, we have little control over many things in our life. We can not control other people. Nor can we always prevent bad things from happening. Some things are just plain outside of our control. During the period after we knew something was “wrong” with my son, but before we knew he had a fatal condition, I grasped to anything I thought I could control. We were told part of his brain had not formed. So I thought, “DHA-that helps with the brain. I will overload myself with DHA-that will help his little brain grow. I can still control the outcome”. Wrong. He was sick. No amount of fish, DHA supplements or healthy food would change that. We had zero control over the fact that he was sick. ZERO. In life, the more we try to control things outside of our control, the more we suffer.
2. Each moment is a gift.
This one brings tears to my eyes. Each moment is fleeting. The next moment is not a guarantee. Since Parker’s death, I cherish each kiss, each “I love you”, each fight. Every.Single.Thing. The truth is, although we often feel we deserve and will get another day, another chance, another hug. We simply don’t know. Anything can happen. Parker’s short life has given me the gift of gratitude Gratitude for every tiny event in my life, even if it seems insignificant. I hug my loved ones a little tighter, I breathe in deep and cherish each moment, for this moment could be the last one. His death has taught me to go for my dreams, to get outside my comfort zone, take risks, and love with my whole heart. There may not be a second chance.
3. Death doesn’t erase love
Death changes a lot of things. It breaks hearts. Breaks families. Shatters worlds. One thing death does not change is love. Grief is experienced because of love. Grief is love. The death of my son has not changed how much I love him. My love has remained a constant in my ever-changing world. Love is unbreakable. You do not need to be able to see something, hold something, or touch something to love it. Sure when your child dies you lose a ton. You lose a lifetime of moments, memories, and experiences. Miss out on knowing who they would become. You lose your life together. But the love you have for them can never be taken. I hold on to that for dear life. I shout my love for my son from rooftops and I refuse to be afraid to love him even though he is dead. Even if others don’t understand or are uncomfortable with it. Death does not erase love.
Kelly is owner and therapist at Evolve Counseling, LLC and proud mother to three children, including her son, Parker who was stillborn at 24 weeks gestation. At Evolve Counseling, LLC she provides counseling services to individuals and families healing after infant and pregnancy loss.