To the fellow loss mom I turned to in my early weeks of heartbreak,
You were so kind as to open your heart to me, a stranger floundering in the void of grief and trauma after my baby was killed.
We “met” via a mutual friend who connected us, as it always seems to be.
Those on the outside always seem to think us loss moms have so much in common, even though it’s the one commonality no one wants.
Both of our children had been killed by drivers.
Our mutual acquaintance felt we’d be good for each other. Those on the outside mean well.
You had experienced your own toddler’s death just a few years prior. Your timeline of experience in this chaos felt like infinity to me.
I was in awe how strong, composed, and wise you seemed.
I panicked at the thought of enduring another day of the hell without my baby, and here you were 2 YEARS later.
You always answered my late night texts and rambling emails, doing your best to assuage the soul-crushing heaviness and despair I felt.
You were kind. You were open. You gave so much of yourself to try to help me.
Until you didn’t.
I was ghosted. You just quit answering anything from me. Even six months later when I had something positive to share, you ignored me.
I want to let you know now… I get it.
Two and a half years into my empty arms, and I understand that you weren’t far along in your journey after all.
You were likely still trying to manage the delicate treading of your new existence without your daughter, always full of longing, trauma, and those unexpected waves that leave you careening right when you finally feel you’ve got your feet on solid ground.
Like me, you had been there the moment your child had been taken. Killed.
And I know now, it was likely still so extremely raw for you, too.
I’m sorry for the emotional labor I exacted from you.
I’m sorry for the trauma I likely inadvertently had you relive.
I’m sorry for the tears you probably cried from overwhelm, and heartache renewed.
I’m sorry for adding to your pain when I was so in the midst of my own that my drowning self clawed and scratched at the life preserver you were to me at the time.
In the dimension of child loss, those of us whose children have been killed by others always feel like the outcasts to the outcasts that society already places those who have lost young children.
At a time when I felt no one else could understand, I unknowingly asked so very much of you.
So, I want to thank you.
Thank you for showing me much needed grace and compassion in the way that only you could help me understand.
Thank you for your time and words that were that life preserver when everything else proved to me that I was drowning.
Thank you for opening your heart the best you could to help a fellow loss mom in her most desperate moment of need.
Thank you for all you could do, and for all you couldn’t.
I know now how hard it must have been for you, because I’ve been that loss mom, too.
I’ve been approached by outsiders to help another new loss mother navigate her painful grief.
Many, I can muster kind words, requested insight, compassion, and patience.
Others… the ones with loss and trauma similar to my own…
I hang my head in guilt and shame, motionless and powerless to act on the love I do feel for these mothers.
I want nothing more than to be able to save them from the heartwrenching, torturous pain that they feel.
But in doing so, I know their trauma and pain sends waves crashing over me as, through empathy, I relive my own.
And right now, I just can’t.
Two and a half years into my loss journey and the trauma is ignited every single day.
Mundane and banal things for anyone else are major triggers for me, and they leave me spent, anxiety-ridden, and grasping for solid ground again.
It’s an utterly exhausting existence.
And when I barely have enough for myself and my family, I hate that I don’t always have enough for another loss mom, too.
So thank you. Thank you for taking care of your heart when opening it to me became too much.
Thank you for teaching me how essential boundaries are to a healing soul.
Thank you for showing me that it’s ok to help where I can, love how I can, do when I can, but that it’s ok to put my survival first.
Without that lesson, I’m not sure I would have survived this long.
So thank you for throwing me that life preserver. I’m still treading water.