There are few books that address the weight of guilt and shame that a grieving mother carries with her after the loss of her child. The deep feeling of failure that accompanies child loss can be heart, mind and soul crippling. Reengaging in life after loss and attempting to find a sliver of hope again is an on-going battle– one no bereaved mother should fight alone.
No matter the age or cause of death, no matter the story, this book is for you, Sweet Mama.
. . .
I have to tell you this.
You didn’t fail. Not even a little.
You are not a horrible mother.
You didn’t choose this. You didn’t want this to happen. You didn’t do anything wrong. It just happened. To you. Despite your begging, pleading, praying, hoping against all hope it would not. Even though everything within you was screaming no, no, no, no, no.
God didn’t do this to punish you, smite you, or to teach you a lesson. That is not God’s way. You could not have prevented this if you tried harder, prayed harder, or were a “better” person. Nor if you ate better, loved harder, yoga-ed more, did x, y, or z to the nth degree—fill in the blank with any other lie your mind devises. You could not have prevented this even if you could have predicted the future like no one can.
No, there is nothing more you could have done. You did everything you possibly could have. And you are the best mother there is because you would have done absolutely anything to keep your child alive. To breathe your last breath instead. To choose the pain all over again just to spend one more minute together. That is the ultimate kind of love. You are the ultimate kind of mother.
So wash your hands of any naysayers, betrayers, or those who sprinted in the other direction when you needed them most. Wash your hands of the people who may have falsely judged you, ostracized you, or stigmatized you because of what happened to you. Wash your hands of anyone who has made you feel less than by questioning everything you did or didn’t do. Anyone whose words or looks have implied this was somehow your fault.
This was not your fault. This will never be your fault, no matter how many different ways someone tries to tell you it was.
Especially if that someone happens to be you. Sometimes it’s not what others are saying that keeps you shackled in shame. Sometimes it’s your own inner voice that shoves you into the darkest corner of despair, like an abuser, telling you over and over and over again you failed as a mother. Convincing you if only this and what if that, it never would have happened. Saying you coulda, shoulda done this or that so your child would not have died.
That is a lie of the sickest kind. Do not believe it, not even for a second. Do not let it sink into your bones. Do not let it smother that beautiful, beautiful light of yours.
Instead, breathe in this truth with every part of yourself: You are the best damn mother in the entire world.
No one else could do what you do. No one else could ever mother your child as well as you can, as well as you are. No one else could let your child’s love and light shine through the way you do. No one else could mother your child as bravely. No one else could carry this unrelenting burden as courageously. It is the heaviest, most torturous burden there is.
There is no one, no one, no one who could ever, ever replace you. No one. You were chosen to be your child’s mother. Yes—chosen. And no one could parent your child better in life or in death than you do. You have within you a sacred strength.
You are the mother of all mothers.
So breathe, mama, keep breathing. Believe, mama, keep believing. Fight, mama, keep fighting, for this truth to uproot the lies in your heart. You didn’t fail. Not even a little.
For whatever it’s worth, I see you. I hear your guttural sobs. I feel your ache deep inside my bones. And it doesn’t make me uncomfortable to put my fingers as a makeshift bandage over the gaping hole in your heart until the scabs come, if and when they do.
It takes invincible strength to mother a child you can no longer hold, see, touch, or hear. You are a superhero mama. I see you fall down and get up, fall down and get up, over and over again. I notice the grit and guts it takes to pry yourself out of bed every single day and force your bloodied feet to stand up and keep walking. I see you walking this path of life you’ve been given, where every breath and step apart from your child is a physical, emotional, and spiritual battleground. A fight for your own survival. A fight to quiet the insidious lies.
But the truth is, you haven’t failed at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
You are the mother of all mothers.
Truly, the most inspiring, courageous, loving mother there is—a warrior mama through and through.
For even in death, you lovingly mother your precious child still.
. . .
Excerpt from You Are the Mother of All Mothers. Copyright 2014 Angela Miller. Excerpt by permission of Wise Ink Publishing. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.