If you ask a bereaved parent how they survived the death of their child, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.
I don’t know how I got out of bed after learning that my daughter would not survive.
I don’t know how I got out of bed on the day we knew she would die, as she did in my husband’s arms.
I don’t know how I got out of bed every day for the past 6+ years.
But I did.
It has not been without tears, aching arms, and the disbelief that my greatest love will forever be missing.
But I continued to get up each day.
For the past 6+ years, life has continued to move forward. No, we have not “moved on” from our daughter but we have moved forward to create love, joy, and a family with our two sons.
We stay present and don’t dwell in our loss. We remember and include our daughter in our life and conversations. We wonder about her and miss her dearly.
But, we continue to get out of bed and bravely face the world.
Then, Mother’s Day comes. To think that this is a day that only affects moms is just not true. Fathers also feel the pain for their partners, wanting to fix it, make it better, or change the reality that can’t be changed.
Mother’s Day is a sucker punch to our grief. It’s the spotlight to what is missing.
The same argument can be made for any holiday or special day, really. And the same statement can be applied to anyone hurting on these holidays as they miss someone they love, or grieve a life they thought they’d have.
We do our best each day to brave the world around us and these “special days” are the obstacle to our course. Not only do we have to face the day, but we have to jump the hurdles that accompany it. Text messages, social media posts, advertisements, special brunches-while sweet and endearing, they magnify loss.
So my advice on these days is to listen to your heart, to stay present in the moment, and to be true to your needs. You may want solitude, you may need the company of others. Celebrating the other moms and women in your life may feel comforting, it may be overwhelming. And whatever you decide to do on this day that is intended to honor YOUR motherhood too, it’s ok to change your mind.
But remember this, you are still your child’s mother. You will always be your child’s mom.
So take today and do whatever you need to soothe your tender heart.
The Human Race is such a special day.
A day when my daughter is celebrated without the sadness attached.
A day to honor her short life.
A day to share her with others.
I never get to plan a birthday party. I never get family photos with my three children. I never have a new memory to share.
Her birthday and her anniversary, I have two days when others honor her. But, I can't share those days with others because on those two days it’s a struggle to even get myself out of bed.
Some families only get one day, the day of their baby's birth being the same as their death. At the Human Race, we walk for these babies too. We say their name, we share their love, and we celebrate them with their family.
We wish we had 365 days, not one, not two. So instead of a birthday celebration, a new family picture, or a new memory to create, we have this one day. One day to wear their names on the back of our shirts. One day to share their love by supporting one another. One day to smile with friends and family alongside other parents who live a similar life.
We get this one special day to walk together while at the same time, raising funds to support the next family who will follow this devastating path; that of living an entire lifetime without the baby they long to raise.
And that’s why the Human Race is such an important day. It's the only day to celebrate our baby, without also having it be a day of sorrow on the day of their death or birth.
Thank you, for spending this morning with us. We are so grateful.
Be sure to join us by donating here:
One of the first trips outside my home after the death of my daughter was to the bookstore. I didn’t believe I could survive without her and I needed to read about others who had come before me. I needed hope.
What I found was one book with one section about miscarriage. I felt defeated.
Websites like Still Standing did not yet exist and the deep dark depths of the internet did not provide the hope I was craving.
I felt lonelier than the lonely that I was already feeling. I just wanted someone to hold my hand, to tell me I could survive this pain, and to be an example of a life worth living.
A year later, Still Standing was created and I began to see a comraderie unlike any other. A place where we could share our babies, our stories, experiences, hopes, and fears. It was beautiful. We were guiding each other and holding hands as we walked this path that none of us would have chosen.
But what about the new moms and dads that didn’t know Still Standing (and all the other great resources) existed? How could we reach them?
In the meantime, I continued to get questions from other bereaved moms, asking the same questions trying to navigate this unknown journey of grief.
I began writing. I wrote answers to every question that I have asked and the questions that have been asked of me.
Will I survive this loss?
How do I share news with my friends/family?
What do I say when asked about my children?
What do I do with my milk?
How do I honor my baby?
What about anniversaries/birthdays/holidays?
How/When do I return to work?
Can I consider another pregnancy?
Will my relationship survive?
I quickly realized that I was creating the beginning of a book, one that I wished would have been handed to me before I left the hospital. This became a labor of love and I wrote as if speaking to my very dear friend. I wrote it to me, the mom who just learned the unfathomable truth that her baby would die. I wrote it, kindly, respectfully, lovingly yet direct.
The topics in this book are hard, things that "normal" parents will never have to consider-but we did and we do. Choices that we have had to make; autopsy, burials, funerals, thoughts that give any parent nightmares at night. But this is our reality and the reality for the parents who come after us. They need us, like we need each other. My intent is to share as many resources as possible so that each parent can find a community of support.
I wish this book was never needed. But, I hope that grieving families immediately receive this book so they never feel as lonely as I did 6 years ago. This book is my heart on paper, loving any parent who has the devastatingly need to read it.
Let's share resources:
I believe we should always share resources. If you're interested in a free preview of the book, Navigating the Unknown, click this link: bit.ly/NTUpreview Here you will gain access to the entire front of the book, the first 2 pages of every chapter, AND full access to the entire list of resource books and websites to support you. Let me know what you think. I am here to support you.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.