by Angela Miller
Sometimes grief makes me feel like I’m losing my mind. Like my brain has been hijacked.
A few weeks ago, I read the beginning of a sentence over and over again about twenty or thirty times. It took me almost that long to figure out why my brain couldn’t makes sense of it. Then– BAM— it hit me. The reason I had to keep reading it ad nauseum is because these four little words will never again be true for me. I’ll never be able to say them again in reference to myself.
You ready for the sentence?
“As a non-bereaved parent…”
“As a non-bereaved parent…”
“As a non-bereaved parent…”
“As a non-bereaved parent…”
“As a non-bereaved parent…”
. . .
Slap. There it was: reality. Ouch. Apparently even reading can be a possible trigger.
What I’d give to be a non-bereaved parent for even another minute or two. Two glorious minutes of having all my children here with me. Two minutes of the living nightmare, gone. Two freeing minutes of being “normal” again.
If only I could say those four fabulous words. If only they could be true for me. If only I still belonged to the “normal” motherhood club. The non-bereaved kind. The glorious kind. The kind I was a part of BEFORE.
It’s so lonely being stuck in this one.
. . .
Does it ever just hit you like that? Out of nowhere? You can be trekking along “fine,” going about your day, living life, and then all of a sudden you remember: Oh yeah– I’m forever part of this crappy club called child loss.
. . .
It’s true that you find life again. Or life finds you.
It’s true that joy and happiness find you again too.
It’s true that to most, you look oh-so-normal on the outside.
If only broken hearts were visible. If only grief could be treated like a broken bone that needs time to set and heal. If only compassion was a universal response to those who are hurting.
. . .
The truth is, no matter how much you’re living, no matter how much healing your heart has done, no matter how far you run, no matter how long it’s been: you’re still always and forever part of a club that no one wants to join; one you can never, ever leave.
The thought of it is so terrifying that it leaves the verbose, speechless. Most can’t handle thinking about it for even a millisecond. Or less.
It’s that horrifying– that unspeakable. That nightmarish.
I can’t even read the beginning of a simple sentence without being reminded. That I am “other.” Forever booted from “Planet Non-Bereaved.” Forever part of “Planet Bereaved Parent.”
You can’t even get kicked out. Ever.
Seriously. What kind of club is this?!
It’s got to be one of the most horrific clubs on earth. Revised: It is THE most horrific club on earth.
. . .
That’s it, I guess. Pretty much sums it up.
I want to leave this club, yet I can’t. Ever.
That thought is a little too overwhelming at times. Or, almost always.
. . .
Sometimes, when the weight of bereaved parenthood hits me like a ton of bricks, I’ve found that hearing two little words can make it all a little bit better: “Me too.”
Knowing I’m not alone is what makes the unbearable, bearable.
Solidarity heals. It binds the broken.
I’m certain it’s the one sure thing that always will.
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
Angela Miller is an internationally known writer and speaker on grief and loss. She is the author of You Are the Mother of All Mothers: A Message of Hope for the Grieving Heart, and founder of the award-winning online community ABedForMyHeart.com. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Psychology Today, CBS News, The Huffington Post, MPR, BlogTalk Radio, and FaithIt, among other publications. To date Angela’s writing and her book have comforted the hearts of hundreds of thousands grieving parents around the world.
Join her compassionate village at A Bed For My Heart.
Text and images © Angela Miller 2012-2017. All rights reserved.
A version of this piece was originally published in Still Standing Magazine.
i am a father who has lost both my only children…Thomas 15,1-9-1996-suicide. Joshua 28.7-7-2010 massive heart attack,floating blood clots. My sons mother killed herself 2006…never got over our first sons death.
I know the EVERY DAY frustrations of life.
GOD is my power and comfort.
IM here if anyone needs to talk.
Ima Nam Vet. forgotten…unloved…alone.
God IS real !!!
GOD BLESS ISRAEL !!!
I didn’t think anyone knows my pain. Looks like you lost so much more. I lost my youngest son to an accidental overdose January 9, and last Friday my coworker Eric Disario was killed volunteering in kirkersville, when will it end ? I’m so tired of bad news.
If you need someone to listen I am here.so very sorry for your pain
Jaclyn Figueroa says
My very soul hurts for you and the grief you’re shouldering. But you are not forgotten, you are not alone. Thank you for your service to this country. God bless you.
Thomas thank you for your service and keeping us safe. I am so sorry for your loss. Too much to bear. I lost 2 children also. I have one precious child left and so thankful.
Saying a prayer for you.
Thomas praying for you.
I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine. We lost our son 2009, and the pain is still there. Blessings.
That’s horrible. I’m sorry. How do you find the strength to get up every day and go. Is happiness ever a real possibility again? Or just little moments of it, but a lot is forced.
Me too. ????
Me too x
Donna Talley says
I, to, hate being a member of this club. Some days I would just like to feel normal again but I don’t know what normal is anymore.
I need the tools to help my daughter in dealing with the loss of her brother ,my son any help would be greatly appreciated
I am in the same boat, it hurts me to see my children hurting and missing their brother so much.
Kaye Berry says
The price to pay for being in this club is too high, and once in we cant get out.
The pain of losing your beloved child is indescribable, and keeps haunting you like a shadow. Just when you think you could be back on track…..there is another knife in the heart as a memory pops up. The pain never goes away, but somehowwe get the strength to live with it. Just take each day as it comes……..
Encourage your daughter to remember the positive good times she had with her brother. I lost my son, talking to him helps me. XO
My son lost his sister, my daughter. He is 16, she was 10… I have him in grief counseling and it helps him to find coping mechanisms that work for him…
I really needed to hear this today. We’re coming up to our twin sons 4th birthdays (that’s four birthdays without them) and I thought I was doing ok but these last few months I’ve just felt like something has sucked the air right out of my lungs. I feel so alone. It feels like everybody else has forgotten. That the world is whirring quickly past me and I am stuck, alone and the grief is burning like a wildfire in my heart.
It’s nice to know we’re not alone but holy smokes, what a shitty club to belong to.
Hi Madelyn, You are still a twin mom. Don’t ever forget that. I too am a twin mom and I loved every second of it. I had twin boys, one died unexpectedly at 7.5 months. His brother is now 18 months old.
This club sucks….You are a TWIN MOM!
Madelyn I am so sorry for your loss. Those birthdays are so rough and weeks before too. I lost 2 daughters 1985(infant) and 2010 (23). My oldest daughters birthday is still tough, like walking through cement for a couple of weeks.
You’re not alone. We’re all here in the fellowship of suffering. Praying for you.
Me too????Until the day I die!
Thank you for this, Angela. Grieving our children is forever and can be so exhausting.
Love and blessings to you, Thomas4God. I am so sorry for your grief.
Roma Holley says
My post on Facebook on Mother’s day pretty much sums it up for me.
Oh but I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. Mother’s Day 2017. I have SO many blessings that I count each day. My three have brought SO much joy to me. But for all of my blessings that call me MoM and MiMi, my heart still hurts so much for the one blessing that is gone. I KNOW that I will see my little man again one day, but today, I still miss him. So much. And the memories just continue to roll down my cheeks
EMILY WILES says
Thanks for being a part of this club, your words help me. I lost my oldest son in a tragic car accident 02/03/2017. He will be forever 34. He left 3 children behind, my grand babies, 10, 7 and 6. This I believe, is the hardest thing I have ever done. Ever WILL do.
Kathy Lester says
So sorry for your loss. So close to the date we lost my 34 year old son. It’s hard to imagine how we ended up here…
So sorry for your loss…my son died on 2/3/08…he left one son who is 14 now and my other son is raising him, can’t imagine how fresh this pain is for you, time helps but it never goes away, I know it doesn’t seem like it now ????????????
Marilyn Anderson says
Me, too. Like Roma, I count the many blessings I still have. Though I grieve the loss of Carly Grace every day, I try to keep sweet memories in the forefront, and let my other kids know that they are such great blessings in my life. Life is not over for us, and we need to find the joy and laughter that still remains.
Yet there also remains a large, quiet corner in my heart and mind that I keep hidden away. I visit and revisit this corner often, but I come to this sacred place alone, with thoughts, with tears, with love, between Carly and me. Our time.
We each have our own personal ways to deal with our loss. I am forever grateful for the time I had with my daughter, and I miss her forever, until we meet again. I, like Thomas4God, am so thankful that God is the comforter, the keeper of my heart, and for all of His blessings that he shows me everyday.
May God comfort all hurting hearts. ????❤️????❤️????❤️
I too am a member of this club that I wouldn’t wish on anyone having raised two beautiful angels with cf. It will be 10 years this month that we lost our youngest at the age of 23 and her brother this year at 37. We still have our oldest and our grandson but our hearts never stop aching. Very thankful for the blessings we did have and the honor to have had these children and we look forward to the day we see them again~lis
You had me pegged at the first sentence “Sometimes grief makes me feel like I’m losing my mind. Like my brain has been hijacked.” 5 days until my son’s 5th birthday and I swear I am losing my mind. This weight of grief has become so very very heavy. I can’t concentrate, I’m feeling immobilized and throwing tantrums. I hate this club. I hate that it took my son’s death to open my heart, my eyes, my compassion. Urg arg…ready to throw another tantrum. Thank you for reminding me others out there understand too.
Kris Aikens says
Thank you again for putting words to what so many of us “me too’s” are feeling. My heart just started beating faster as I was reading your words. So grateful to have you to walk through this nightmare with! Your description of how it can hit from out of the blue is so true – sadly my “me too” began almost 7 1/2 years ago and at times it still blows my mind that I lost my son. It’s THAT huge. All my love to those on this path. Kris
Me too 🙁 Thanks for writing about this. Thanks for making conversation around child loss a more normal thing. Thanks for making your fellow club members feel like we are not alone.
Grace Young says
Thanks for writing this. I too lost my precious first born son, Jack Young, Jr. on his 27th birthday, May 8, 2007. I am sharing this with our outreach sites on FB… Particle Accelerator, in memory of Jack Young, Jr. is an annual music festival in Putnam, CT that brings families together in an informal park setting for a day of music and hope. We raise funds for United Services, Inc, our local mental health concern. We have raised over $50,000 in the past 10 years, and we know that our festival saves lives. Our next festival is on June 10, 2017 from noon til 9pm. We’d love to see you there! Local musicians play all day, we have food, a Kids Zone, crafters, and self help groups like NAMI, the VA, DBSA, CHR, and other recovery groups, as well as United Services. We also have a Wall of Angels to honor those lost to suicide. If you’d like to learn more, you can check our website, http://www.particleaccelerator.org
God bless you and your precious child.
Thank you for all that you share with the rest of us in this “shitty” club. I too feel forgotten. If someone does remember for a minute they tell me “you are doing amazing, you have come so far”. Wow, a whole minute they remember. I too would love to have a minute of rest. A minute of normal. I do not get not one single minute of “rest” from the pain of grief. I smile, I volunteer, I love the ones around me, but none of them can ever replace my Jennie. My beautiful daughter lost at the age of 24. I am grateful to not be alone, and at the same time, I feel awful that there is even one other person in this shitty club. Love to all
Me too.???? Nearly two years without my darling eldest daughter after a nightmare journey for her with cancer, she will be forever 45. Some days are just too hard and I wonder how I’ll get to the end of them. I have many other blessings, 2 daughters, 10 grandchildren, 2 great grandies, but that total happiness I used to have knowing everything was right in my world will never be there again. I am not the person I was and I hate being a member of this club???? My heart bleeds for every other parent who belongs.
Alaimh Counselling says
This is a such a great article. Thanks for sharing this.
Belonging to this shitty club SUCKS!!! My son Rigo was 22 when he got his wings. I miss EVERYTHING about him,he had a heart of gold,a laugh that no matter what made you laugh and a contagious smile.Our lives changed when we lost him and never will be the same again.i am so sorry we all belong to this shitty club,knowing we are never alone helps sometimes.May you find an ounce of piece in each day and know that our ANGELS ARE ALWAYS WITH US.
Kathy Lester says
Today has been a very hard day. I lost my 34 year old son February 17, 2017 in a motorcycle accident. He was passing a van on a rural highway as it turned left in front of him. He died instantly. He was a single dad of a 4 year old special needs child, who we are now raising. Most days I can hold it together for his daughter’s sake, but today one of my emails was ideas for children to make for Father’s Day. I just lost it & have cried off and on all day since. I hate every minute of this and can’t believe this will be my life for the rest of this life.. How do we do this??? You’re right, this is a club I don’t want to be a part of. I hate that all of you have to be a part of this, too, but at the same time, it’s nice to know someone else understands.
I too wish I was not a member of this “Bereaved Parents” club. My daughter and her husband died of drug overdoses and left me with their three little one ten years ago. The pain is hard to face head on. The little one lost them when he was only 8 months old.
Laurel B. says
I too unfortunately belong to this club. In 1986 I lost my 3 month old son suddenly to meningitis, in 2010 I lost a son that was stillborn early, and May 6th 2017 I lost my amazing son who had just turned 22 to a drowning accident. I am a Leo, I am very strong, although I am completely at a loss this time. I am rethinking my entire life. I’m not at the point where I can care about much right now or appreciate much. I am taking things for granted. I have so much to be grateful for – yet I am exhausted caring about anything. I stayed really busy for the first two months and now I’m crashing. I am thinking why should I go on with so much misery and heartbreak? I’ve been through this…how can I endure it this time? Life is not fair – I always knew that. Going to a grief group…more for my 12 year old with Aspergers who is dealing with the loss of her favorite brother. Having a bad last few days because I am stuck in bed with the flu…looking at his pictures and my mind won’t stop thinking. Hopefully tomorrow I can find some positive things. So glad my grand daughter is here for the summer. She will keep me moving. I’m sorry you all are here for the same reason. I need to “be Dylan” – he was the most positive light in my life and now he’s gone. I know I need to honor him by cherishing all the memories and to be positive and kind. I’m just not there yet. I have work to do. I need to save other parents from this nightmare. My son’s death was senseless and I need to make changes to rules at Lake Mead before another person’s son or daughter drowns.
I dearest brother was murdered, shot dead at his company office on a beautiful Saturday morning by a gang who stole the payroll.
My dearest mother died three years ago, suddenly diagnosed with fourth-stage lung cancer after being released from a week in the hospital for “pneumonia.” She was my best friend, my confidant, my rock.
My only daughter committed suicide eleven months later. My son and her father and I clung together, and made it through the first year…then the next…
My only son died four months ago. Her dad and I are clinging together… and made it through Mother’s Day….then Father’s Day.
Every moment is agony.
Thank God I found someone who actually gets this. Because I don’t. The pain seems to cumulative, and unbearable. I only have my memories. And God.
Amanda Pickman says
I have been a Bereaved Mother since April 28th, 2012. The death of my third son, Madden, at just 7 months and 20 days old sparked a fire inside if soul. Of course the “what it’s” “whys” and other common unanswered questions, as well as the coming feelings calling into questions “God” “Faith” “length of grief” the feelings of “guilt” or “blame”…there was so many more things, pieces of my personality or my inquisitive nature immediately broke through to such deeper thoughts, the ability to talk about my experience, the difference to people in general between different types of loss (a parent, estranged parent, a sibling, an aunt or uncle, a cousin or good friend, a coworker or acquaintance…and the age, how long were they allowed to have a “beautifully bittersweet” time on Earth, did they have a quality time…..and then if course, “How is quality of life measured” among so many different cultures, minorities, communities, religions, auto groups, labor unions, political parties, biographical environments, home environments, education, wealth and so on” befire at some point the question of “how” crosses the mind of everyone who learns if any death of a person inside their “circle”. When finding out Sudden Unexpected Infant Death is the Cause of death, they either think “That is just Terrible.” “That is Unacceptable, something must be done.” OR “That is Unnacceptable. Who is responsible?!” And for most it is the last. And just as among the majority of the populations want blame, a.k.a. justice, when in the face of loss, many of the medical field, Medical Examiners Nd Coronors in included, “No Ones Fault” is not acceptable, amd within their power, their educated opinion when mixed with a certain belief of life, therefore will not/refuse, to use that as the terminology for the cause of death. And if like we, are involved in the Community already, we can vouch, that the remaining terms are NOT The Real Cause, though neither is SIDS. It is a diagnksis of exclusion. But, the extistance of a name is the result of many passionate minds making progress in the ability to find an answer for the “cause”, the title of a list of excluded possibilities”, the “whys”. This is important. This in addition to following the recommendations is why Safe Sleep”, education and awareness combined with how easily I shared my story, showed instinctual and real empathy, sympathy, and so much more when holding the hand of another newly bereaved parent, befriend them, and walk with them through the terrifying, nervous, anxious peruod if being “the new kid.” You my dear, wrote beautifully about the very experience of every. Single. New. Kid.
Me too. My son tim had cancer & passed away at 33 years old. He never had the chance to marry & have children. I miss him every day. I hate this club so much. It’s the club no one wants to be a member of.
I lost my 22yr son May 19, 2017. Just now 10 weeks. Single mom, he was my rock, my joy. Accidental overdose. I’m having such a difficult time. Looking for answers, but missing him more. Someone sent me this book, but I don’t know how to relate because I think I should of seen the signs. I willl never get the image out of my mind Of finding him. How do I go on? This is not the first loss but I will say it is the worst most painful. I want to be with him.
It’s been 3 years last August since I had the chance to see, talk and hug my son. He died by Suicide at 25. He left no children but had a girlfriend. I never saw it coming or at least in hindsight did not pick up on cues before he took his life. After reading and learning about suicide ideation I realized he was at risk but this was much later after he died. I go in and out day by day with the realization my only child will never come back. The realization that this is it, no grandchildren, no weddings, no graduation from college, no more future for our son but lots of “Nevers”. I deal with it every morning and every night before bed and know it’s called “rumination” but can’t turn it off. I hate being the “bereaved parent” and all the “me toos” club I can’t ever leave knowing that this is my life. I do try to find purpose but it’s not easy when reality slaps me in the face every single day. I know as time goes on my loss will be gentler, but until then I’ll continue to “ruminate”. Thank You for listening and so thankful others out in the void of cyberspace understand.
Me too x
Me too, Angela and everyone here. Me too.
Sometimes it’s nice to see other intact families and enjoy their innocence and joy. Sometimes it’s just too hurtful.
Either way, I hardly ever have moments of forgetfulness. Sometimes I pretend my daughter is just in another room, that helps.
Thank you for writing this.
I want my son back???? I just want to hold him again????
I’m new to you club my heart is broken. My 45 yr old son died Aug 25 2017.
Stacy L MacLaren says
We lost our only child on May 25, 2016. 20 months of fighting a brutal, disfiguring cancer; 9 days after he turned 31; 20 days after his only child turned 3; 13 days after we entered hospice, on Mother’s Day and 1 day before my 49th birthday.
Everything in me is pulled as tight as I can just to keep the tears contained still, until they spill out at the most stupid and inconvenient time. People say dumb things, as if it shouldn’t hurt as much because he was an adult. Dumb.
God is my refuge and my hope…and yet some days I wonder if I will ever not feel wrecked? I’m not me anymore…
Michael Hughes says
not one person’s loss is greater than others . I have found that when telling my story some people get it and some don’t. I have 21 years of telling my story. It never gets easier nor does it get harder. I am 50 years old I will tell the story the rest of my life welcome to my club. The only think that helps me get through it is reading things from other members like your selves. So please don’t shut down like it did and do from time to time. I need to hear from all of you . It is my drug of choice. I need you all to hear my words.I need to know I am not alone in this club. I need to know if I am having a bad day you got my back. I need to know that when things get tough and they do . You got my back. I need you . GOD BLESS US ALL
On 8/22/17 two Army chaplains were waiting at our home to let us know our 27 year old son had passed away. Everyday I thought I would wake up and find out it was a bad dream, but it’s been a continuing nightmare! I feel like I am beginning to accept the the fact that he is gone but miss him so much! He has two siblings who are also grieving, one of them is his twin. It helps so much to know others feel the way we do. I feel like prayers are the only thing holding us up right now. Thank you for this blog!
My son was 24 when the policeman came to my door at 8 am to say he’d been found dead. That was 3 months ago now but time has lost all meaning to me. My beautiful daughter is 22 and I struggle to understand how she is feeling or what else I can do to help her ….. she has lost her brother, her father, her half brother, a grandmother, 2 close uncles and a school friend in the last 5 years. We keep going day to day because we must. I take heart from the messages on this site.
I enjoy your writing so much. You express what I feel over and over again. Although I can’t relate to the “joy” part at 3 years, and doubt I will, I have moments of relief, yes, and I cherish those moments.
thank you for writing this. I shared it with my friends on facebook. If it helps just one person, then that makes me feel good. I’m anxious right now because I’m coming up to the first anniversary of my son’s death. I’m crying more now than ever. I can never explain to someone who hasn’t been in our place what it feels like. But somehow you find the words to do just that. Thank you.
My oldest daughter died on October 10, 2017 at 1:20 am She had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on February 27, 2017. The cancer had spread to her ovaries and she also had peritoneal disease…cancer of the abdominal lining. Just this morning, I was reading her last texts to me, when she was in so much pain and I looked at her FB page and it hit me. I will never receive a new text from her and I will never see a new FB post from her. I was sucker punched at that reality. Just one more reminder.
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