Unless It’s You… How surviving after loss feels.

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Unless you’ve heard the screams, Unless you’ve experienced the panic, unless you’ve held a tiny, cold, lifeless, blue body in your arms, unless you’ve desperately tried to breathe life back into that body, unless you’ve seen the bloody froth come from their nose and mouth, unless you’ve sat in your yard giving CPR screaming for the ambulance so they could find you, unless you’ve driven to the hospital begging and pleading with God for a miracle, unless you’ve sat in a tiny room, surrounded by strangers only to hear a bearded man say, “We’re sorry, he has died.” Unless you’ve literally laid on the floor begging a detective to see your baby, because he’s no longer your baby he’s considered police evidence. Unless you’ve been led down a hallway lined by nurses to ER room # 2 only to see your sweet baby tightly swaddled, lying there grey and dead. Unless you’ve held that baby and had to have him physically removed from your arms as you clung to him and wept. Until you have to walk out of a hospital with empty arms that a few short months before you you were leaving with your new bundle of joy. Until you’ve laid in bed for days hoping to not wake up, thinking maybe by some chance a car wreck would take your life so you wouldn’t be to blame. Until you’ve had your ability as a parent questioned and your other child essentially taken away by DFS. Until you’ve felt betrayed and belittled. Until you’ve had to have your entire home, all of your belongings and privacy violated over and over and not being mentally capable to say “no.” Until you flip the fuck out every time you try to find something that someone has moved. Until you’ve had to plan your baby’s funeral, each song and word carefully chosen because this is all you have left. Until you’ve picked out the clothes he’d be cremated in, standing in front of a chest of drawers frozen. Until you’ve had to make choices of funeral plots and grave stones, flowers and urns. Until you’ve waited a week to see your baby, except it’s not your baby, it’s a shell. His face covered in make up, his chest stitched and his eyes sunken. Until you’ve seen your parents break down as they hold their beloved grand baby in their arms. Until you’ve seen your living child hold him and cry and he buries his head into his chest. Until you’ve waited months for answers from a medical examiner that never truly came. Until you’ve read your own child’s autopsy report from head to toe, what each organ weighed, how each part appeared. Until you’ve literally lost your mind. Until you know in your heart and soul what really caused his death but even your own friends think you’re crazy. Until you’ve reached the deepest, darkest place where there is no light, no hope of the pain ever going away. Until you’ve woken up day after day after day after day to the realization that he’s gone. Until a piece of you has died… Until then

You do not have the right, nor should you have the audacity, to tell me that I need to get my shit together. That I need to be the person I was before. That YOU need me back to fit YOUR needs. After you have lost a child there is a lot less grey in the world. Things start to fall into more clearly defined black or white categories. Things that matter and things that don’t. There’s no longer a desire for small talk or wasted moments. That’s not to say that as a friend and human being that things that mattered to you before aren’t important. As a friend and a human being I still love and respect you but because I have that love and respect, I expect it to be reciprocal. That translates to; I am capable (most days) of getting out of bed, making sure my child is fed, clean, dressed and ready for school, my husband’s needs are met to the best of my ability. That alone in this short amount of time is far more than many others can do.That is the general realm of your capabilities when your baby has only been dead for days or weeks.

You know what’s probably the worst part of it all? It’s knowing that this isn’t something I’ll “get over.” You can’t simply say to me that I need to “let it go” or “move forward.” It’s not like a divorce where you are sad for a period of time and you heal, fall in love again and remarry. It’s not like losing a dog or a grandparent that you love, you miss them but you can still live. It’s this constant realization that it will never go away. I don’t know how else to emphasize that- IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY. It will never stop hurting. It will never be the same. I may be less sad, I may have days that I can get things done but for what, perhaps, the next 50 years I will suffer, I will cry, I will grieve, I will remember him every single day. So there is no moving on. There may be continuing to live but there’s no letting him go.

You say you want “me” back. You want the person I was before. Well so do I, but that’s not ever going to happen. With loss a massive chunk of your soul goes – joy, happiness, hopes and dreams, laughter, moments that I had pictured, planned and longed for… gone. Sure I may smile. I will laugh but it will never be the same again. When you’re sad you want to be happy. When you’re happy you feel guilty for not being sad. Do you have any idea what that weight feels like? It’s not something someone can carry for me, there is no cure. It’s not a torment that lasts briefly or even fades away, it is every day for the rest of my life. When other children graduate, you are happy and proud but it’s also a reminder that your baby wasn’t there and that he’ll never have that chance. When your living child falls in love you’ll always wonder who he would have chosen and who she would be. When grand babies come and Lord, I pray there’s a whole busload, I’ll still wonder what kind of dad he would have been, what his babies would have looked like, their smiles and their smell. I don’t just grieve for today. I grieve for every single day until God calls me home. It may be a few days or 20,000 but no matter the length the pain is still the same, the torture just as massive as it was the day before. There’s anguish and affliction but it’s nothing compared to the excruciating ache. It burrows into your bones, it takes up shop in your heart, it’s felt in every breath.

So please don’t tell me I need to move on. Don’t warn me of the consequence of my grief and despair. Don’t preach to me of all I have left to be thankful for. There is not a thing you can say that I haven’t thought a million times over in my head. There’s not a scenario that hasn’t played out, no rabbit hole I’ve not peered in. There’s not an alternate universe that I’ve not hoped for or day that I’ve not thought of what my life would and should be like. It’s a curse you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. It shakes you to your core. Makes you reevaluate everything that one point you never even gave a second thought. It makes you question and prioritize. It make you realize how fragile life really is, that in a second it can all be gone. It’s going crazy, being sad and mad and exhausted, so exhausted. It makes you physically sick and steals your hopes and dreams. Losing a child and surviving is living hell on earth and anyone who tells you differently is a liar or delusional or both. So be kind. Be compassionate. They are survivors. Everyday these parents face more demons before they leave the house than most do in a lifetime.

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