Losing a child is almost unspeakable in our culture. There isn’t even a word for it. A person who loses their spouse is a widow or widower. A person who loses their parents is an orphan. But a parent who loses a child is… a parent who loses a child.
One of the first steps in any recovery process is to name it, to own it. Yet I’ve noticed that in subtle and non-subtle ways, there are signs all around me saying “you are experiencing hell on earth, and you will never ever EVER recover.”
This is a parent’s worst nightmare. And as human beings, we get so easily paralyzed by fear. Most parents (including myself, 6 weeks ago) tell themselves, “If my child died, I would die. I would just DIE. I could not survive.” Yet here I am, surviving.
It turns out that when my worst fear became my reality, I changed, but I didn’t die. I feel like there’s a part of me that died – the same part of me that grew when Julian was born. How could it not? Physically and energetically, he was created inside of me. I carried him for 9 months, and when he was born, something was born inside of me too. Now this “something” inside of me has been replaced with a hollow emptiness that is similar to what I imagine an amputee feels. The me I used to be is now missing something profound – but the me I used to be didn’t cease to exist.
I don’t expect to “recover” as in, “get back to the way things were.” But I do expect to move forward. I want to cherish my memories of Julian, and honor his life by bringing those memories forward with me into my “new normal” – which will include joy and love and happiness. Because that’s what I’m determined to create for myself, and my family.
But why do I feel like this is a controversial perspective? Why do I feel that I have to be careful who I say that to, and how I say it?
I plan to explore that more in this blog.