The club of bereaved parents is one that no one ever wants to join. To most parents, it is an abstract idea. Losing a child is something that happens to other people and not to them. But to us, it is a sad reality that we must live the rest of our lives with a piece of ourselves missing. We’ve learned the hard truth that sometimes bad things do happen to us and that we are the “other people”.
However, this club of bereaved parents is filled with some of the most amazing people.
I like to think that Asher left me several “consolation prizes” after we lost him to help me cope with his absence. Those prizes are the other members of the bereaved parents club. There is something about losing a child that instantly bonds you to complete strangers. You both share that earth-shattering loss and can relate to someone so quickly because of it. Other loss parents just “get it”. They understand the grief and your need to hear your child’s name. They understand remembering important dates and the fear of having your child forgotten. They understand everything.
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Social media connects people who share a common pain.
Social media has the power to make people feel inferior when they compare their lives to others. It has become a place where people present these fake personas that seem to show their life as being perfect. However, it also has the power to connect people who share a common pain. Bereaved parents tend to share their whole lives on social media. They don’t pretend that everything is fine, and they share their missing children and broken hearts with many.
Since losing my son, I have been connected with so many wonderful people simply by being on Instagram. I have connected with women from England, Australia, New Zealand, California, Michigan, Georgia, etc. I have a very close friend, whom I have never met in person. We literally live on opposite sides of the country. We connected because of the loss of our boys, who passed only days apart from each other. Now we text each other every day; not only talking about our boys but everything else in between.
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These people on social media are the ones who remember my son. They take photos of his name at various locations throughout the world, and they put his name on their Christmas tree. They light candles in his memory, and they make images with his name. These people are the ones who understand how important it is to remember my son because they share the same need for their own child.
Local support groups and events create a safe space to share your journey.
Social media hasn’t been the only way I’ve connected with other bereaved parents as I’ve met local loss parents by attending support groups. You are both attending these groups because you want to share your child and your feelings of losing them with people who “get it”. These people understand and make the group a safe space to just share your journey with others. It is an instant connection. My husband and I have met another couple through our loss group who we know will be lifelong friends.
Local loss non-profits have put on events where I have attended and met others who know my pain and that I keep in touch with on a regular basis long after the event is over. I’ve connected with others who are friends of friends and suffered a similar loss. I’ve made connections with recipients of the Comfort Cubs we donated to our local hospital for parents who have to leave empty-handed like we did.
Nothing can ever replace or fill the void left by the child/children we have lost.
But I like to think that they offer us some “consolation prizes” to help ease our pain. The friendships and connections we make with other bereaved parents are the proof of our child’s existence. I know that Asher has sent some pretty amazing people into my life who would not be there if he had never existed. While any loss parent would give up these relationships to have their child back, these relationships offer a safe place for us to share our pain.
Fellow Still Standing author, Ginny Limer, refers to these relationships as “bereaved besties”. These are the people who “get it”. Lean on them, share with them, and remember with them. Think of them as a gift from your child—someone who can help to take the edge off of the pain of child loss.
Featured photo by Amy Lied
Amy Lied is a wife and a mother to her son, Asher, who was inexplicably born still on February 19th, 2017 and twin daughters. Before losing Asher, she suffered a miscarriage and struggled with unexplained infertility. She has documented her journey from the beginning of her infertility struggles on her blog, Doggie Bags Not Diaper Bags. She is also a co-founder of The Lucky Anchor Project , an online resource for loss families that houses an Etsy store whose profits are donated to loss family non-profit organizations. She hopes to help others by sharing her journey as she continues to navigate the bumpy road that is life after loss.