No one ever wants to think that losing a child is a possibility in life. When we think of the order in which life happens, we imagine our grandparents will pass then our parents and then us. We never begin to imagine that losing our own children is a possibility.
But for some of us, that reality becomes our existence. It can happen because our child gets sick, it can be an accident, drug overdose or suicide. No matter how a child passes away, it does not make the pain any less.
My son got a stomach ache, they found a tumor and five weeks later he passed. He was never sick, there was no warning prior to the stomach ache. We got five weeks to deal with the chaos and trying to do everything we could for him while at the same time feeling completely helpless that there was nothing we could do but support him and hope he made it through. Not all parents are given time, and for me, that time I got makes me forever grateful as I know many parents who never got any time, never got a chance to hold their hand, never got a chance to kiss their baby and tell them they loved them before they passed. As horrible as illness can be, you still get time and in these situations, time counts.
I have multiple friends who lost their children to accidents. In these situations, there is no warning, there is no time to say goodbye. It just is what it is. This sudden loss of a child in this way can throw many parents into total shock and feeling of guilt for not being there when it happened. They can also suffer from people making judgements depending upon how the accident happened that their child in some way brought it on. For those making judgements, STOP!!! We all have made questionable decisions as teenagers and young adults and fortunately those decisions did not cost us our life but for some young people, that one wrong choice costed them their future.
Another friend lost their child to a drug overdose. In these situations, again there is no warning, no time to say good bye. The parent is left confused and upset. They feel like people are judging them for how the child passed. This adds more confusion and fear about talking to anyone about that child, and when they do, the looks people can give them leave them feeling judged and hurt. The young adult in these situations made choices, that was their choice but at the end of the day, the parent is still going to grieve for their baby, for what they have lost and support is what they need not judgement.
Another friend lost their child to suicide. Again, in this situation, there is no warning and no time to say goodbye. In fact, in many of these situations, the parent may be the one that found them. The parents can struggle with feelings of guilt and hurt that they should have seen it coming, they should have been able to prevent it. They are scared to discuss this with anyone because they feel judged and alienated. Again, whether we agree or not, that child felt like that was the only option they had and made the only choice they knew how to make at the time. It doesn’t mean it was right but it happened. And for the parent that may have found that child, that is a vision they can never get out of their mind and they definitely do not need added pressure of anyone judging them or their child.
I have spoken to many other mothers and the story, no matter how the child passed, is the same. You feel like your world has exploded and you scramble to try and pick up the pieces but no matter what you do, you can’t get back to feeling stable and grounded. Your world feels like it is over, and you have no idea how to move forward nor do you even want to move forward.
When this happens, it is important for friends and family to be there for the parents. It is important to listen to them and not judge. It is important to allow them to feel what they need to in each moment. It is important to let them talk about that child when they need to and not when they need some time. It is great to tell happy stories about that child as that allows the parents the comfort of knowing that their child’s memory is being kept alive. That parent, in all situations, needs love and empathy. Be patient with them. It is hard to know who you are after losing a child. Everyone grieves differently and time frames vary depending on the person.
For those that have not lost a child, be grateful, you don’t want to be in this club. Cherish every moment you have with your children and remember; you can never truly understand this level of pain unless you have experienced it personally so have empathy. Be grateful every night when you tuck your child in that you have that option, some people don’t get that option.
And for the parent that lost the child, no matter the situation, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself time to wrap your head around the fact that they are no longer there. Love yourself, hold on to what you need to in order to truly feel and experience the grief so that one day, you will be able to feel like you can breathe again. It never ever gets easier, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and one day you will find a way to allow yourself to live fully again and know to your core that your child wants you to live life to the fullest. When that day comes, you will feel closer to your child than you ever have since they passed and that is an amazing feeling after all the darkness!!!