At times it will feel virtually impossible. You’ll wonder how a human being can survive such pain. You’ll learn you know how to defy the impossible. You did it from the moment your child’s heart stopped, and yours kept beating. You do it with every breath and step you take. You’re doing it now. And now. And now.
Your fingernails will become bloodied from clawing your way from the depths of despair. Your spirit will grow weary from fighting to survive. Your eyes will cry more tears than you ever thought possible. Your arms will ache an ache for which there aren’t words. For a lifetime.
Your heart will break into a million tiny pieces. You’ll wonder how it will ever mend again.
But with every morsel of unspeakable pain, there is love. An abundance of love. A love so strong, so powerful, it will buoy you. You will not drown.
Others will say things that are intended to be helpful, but aren’t. Take what is, leave what isn’t.
Still, you’ll meet others along the journey who will get it without ever saying a word. Kind souls who will breathe you back to life again. Let them.
Years down the road you’ll tire of hearing the same advice and clichés, over and over again. Advice you don’t want or need. Everyone will try to tell you how to best “fix” your broken heart. The trouble is, you don’t need fixing.
There is no fix for this.
Eventually you’ll learn how to carry the weight of this pain. At times it will crush you. At other times you’ll learn how to shoulder the burden with newfound grit and grace. Either way, you’ll learn how to bend with the weight of it.
It will not break you. Not entirely.
And even if you don’t believe in hope– not even a little– hope will light the way for you. At times you won’t realize your path is lit. The darkness feels all consuming when you’re in it. But know the light is there. Surrounding you now. And now. And now.
Know you’re being guided, by all of us who have survived this impossible hell. You may not hear us, or see us, but we are with you. Beside you. Hand in hand, heart to heart. Always. Just like your child still is.
Above all else, know that no one can save you but yourself. You are the heroine/hero of this sad story. You are the one who gets to decide how, and if, you’ll survive this. You are the one who will figure out a way to survive the sleepless nights, and the endless days. You are the one who will decide if and when you’ll find a purpose again that means something to you. You are the one who will choose how you’ll live with the pain. You are the one who will decide what you’ll to cling to, what will make your life worth living again. You, and only you, get to decide how you’ll survive.
No one else can do this for you.
People will speak of “closure,” of “moving on,” of “getting over it,” of grief coming to an end. Smile kindly, and know, anyone who says these things hasn’t lived this thing called grief.
To lose a child is to lose the very heart and soul of you. It is overwhelmingly disorienting. It takes a long, long time to find yourself again. It takes a long time to grow new life around the chasm of such grave loss. It takes a long time to grow beauty from ashes.
There will always be a hole in your heart, the size and shape of your child. Your child is absolutely irreplaceable. Nothing will fill the void your child left. But your heart will grow bigger– beautifully bigger– around the empty space your child left behind.
The love and pain you carry for your precious child will be woven into every thread of your being. It will fuel you to do things you never dreamed you could do.
Eventually, you’ll figure out how to live for both of you. It will be beautiful, and it will be hard.
But, the love you two share will carry you through. You will spread this love everywhere you go.
Eventually, you’ll be able to see again. Eventually, you’ll find your way again. Eventually, you’ll realize– you survived.
Angela Miller is a writer, speaker and grief advocate who provides support and solace to those who are grieving the loss of a child. She is the author of You Are the Mother of All Mothers: A Message of Hope for the Grieving Heart, founder of the award-winning community A Bed For My Heart, writer for The Huffington Post, the Open to Hope Foundation and Still Standing Magazine. Angela writes candidly about child loss and grief without sugar coating the reality of life after loss. Her writing and her book have been featured in Forbes, Psychology Today, MPR, BlogTalk Radio, Open to Hope Radio and Writerly, among others. When she’s not writing, traveling, or healing hearts, you can find Angela making every moment count with her two beautiful, blue-eyed boys.
Join Angela’s compassionate village at A Bed For My Heart.