Imagine waking up in the morning to find one of your children, one of the most important people in your life, no longer exists. Their entire history erased. A person you used to talk about countless times, daily, is now a name no one will say.
Your mind remembers them, maybe even more than it used to. Your arms still feel the weight of their body leaning into you. The warmth of their skin against yours burned forever. Memories threaten to pour out of your mouth constantly because every single thing reminds you of them.
Yet, you bite your tongue. How will they react?
A memory comes up on Facebook. It brings one of those heartbreaking, bittersweet smiles you’ve grown accustomed to. So, you share it. It makes your heart fill with love to see it.
You want the world to remember, feel the love, and smile with you. After all, talking about them was never awkward before. Why should those same stories be so now?
Yet, they are met with sad faces. Comments of, “I’m so sorry”. In my mind, I see them tip their head to the side with a concerned look of pity, watching me like a hawk for signs of tears or sadness. It’s possible this last part isn’t true, but you can’t convince my heart of that.
This is part of new normal.
I wish it was different. Hell, I wish a lot of things were different. Since I can’t change history, I wish I could change how people react to it.
When I share memories or say their name, I want it to be like it used to be. Smiles. Laughs. I want people to ask questions. React the same way they would if I shared a story about one of my other children.
When I share, it isn’t for pity or prayers. It isn’t to “one up” your struggles or remind you to be grateful. I don’t do it because I’m sad and depressed or seeking attention. Definitely not to make you feel uncomfortable. I share because I am remembering something about someone I loved more than anything else in this world.
Grief is born from love after all.
I just want the rest of the world to remember with me. To smile when they do. Share their own stories and not fear they will bring me pain. I assure you, even if they do, I welcome it.
That pain brings me closer to my child than anything else in this world can anymore. My arms feel heavy again. My skin warm. Those memories feed my soul. It’s all I need to keep surviving my “after”.
Photo Credit: Kaboompics | Pexels
Emily is the founder of After Child Loss and author of the book Confessions of Child Loss. On Christmas 2015, her 7-year-old son died unexpectedly. As every bereaved parent knows, life spiraled out of control, and she found herself going through the motions of a life she didn’t recognize or want. Today, Emily is a grief coach. She empowers other parents with tools and support to help them take the next step forward. She shares all the things that helped on her journey as she learned to carry this grief in a healthier way and find the place where grief and life coexist.