There are so many things that are unknown after losing a child. How will I breathe? How long will I feel this way? HOW DO I GO ON WITHOUT MY CHILD? And so many other questions. On Friday my mom’s best friend, who is like an aunt to me (she’s family) lost her son, who was also “family”. It has brought back some of the feelings I had in the early days post child loss. It has triggered my memory of those DEEPLY painful early days. I’m going to share some answers I’ve found along the way in hopes it will help someone in this horrible club. Please note that I can only speak for MYSELF, but I do know many other bereaved parents who have had similar experiences.
1. How am I supposed to breathe?
Any way you possibly can! If its crying (sobbing actually, because “crying” just sounds weak compared to what you really do) that forces you to breathe, do it. If it’s just a deep, hard breath, in between the shallow ones that make you feel like you’re going to die, allow them in. I remember walking around, in a daze really, taking these HUGE breaths that made an involuntary moaning noise when they came back out. It was the only way I could breathe. I still take deep breaths every. single. day. But they are easier to take and further apart now, plus they don’t make that awful sound anymore most of the time.
2. Does it get easier?
What..you mean easier to breathe? Yes. Or do you mean easier to live? No. You will breathe somewhat normal again, but it will not get easier to live without your child. You will just learn to live with it. You may still have days you want to die. You will find you think about your child more now than you ever did when they were living because you have to, to keep them alive in your heart.
3. What happens after the funeral? What am I supposed to do now?
After the funeral was the hardest for my husband and I both (besides the day he passed). After the funeral, all of those amazing people, who truly do love you, and surrounded you with their love for the past week, will start to disappear in a sense. They have lives. They will go back to work, their families, etc. Their world did not just get turned upside down. Yours did. Time did not stop for them like it did for you. They don’t have to force themselves to breathe like you do. They all love you, and I’m sure they think about you, but this did not happen to them. They are okay, probably sad, but you are not okay, and sad is a major understatement. Then there are the select few family members and close friends who never leave your side, hold onto them. Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
4. How do I go on without my child?
If you have a relationship with God, he will help you. He will carry you. I imagine the “Footprints in the Sand” poem which can be seen below.
I have had this poem hanging in my home for as long as I’ve lived on my own. It wasn’t until now that I really realized how powerful it would be to me. There was only 1 set of footprints “in the sand” for months after Payton passed, and they surely were not my footprints (some days there still are only a single set of footprints)!! You will learn to live with a broken heart. You will get to the point you feel grateful for the time God lent “his” child to you. This doesn’t mean the pain will go away. It will linger and follow you everywhere you go, but if you allow God along for the ride, you will survive.
5. Will I ever have true joy in my life again?
Yes, but not right away. If you’re like me, you may not allow true joy into your life because you may feel sad or guilty about enjoying life while your child cannot, or you simply cannot FIND joy in anything, as you are too broken. Eventually you may realize that your child is not jealous of you. Heaven is more joyous than we can ever understand until we get there ourselves. This earth is lame, if there’s opportunity for true joy, take it! Your child would want that for you! But again, not right away. You may be in a “fake it till you make it” state for some time.
As I said earlier, I can only speak for myself. Grief does not go away. It changes over time. I am not far enough in my journey of grief to know what changes will come for me in the future, but this is how the first year (and then some) has been for me. Everyone is different. Everyone finds different ways to push on without their child. But I do think we get 1 choice in the matter. We get to choose if we allow it to destroy us, or make us better. I have chosen that I will not allow this to destroy me. Why? Because that would be too easy. This loss is more than anyone should have to bear, it could easily destroy one, and it does some people. I think about my baby every day. I talk to him every night and periodically throughout the days. I still cry almost every day, but I’ve learned it’s good to cry. There is no shame in the love you have for your child and crying is how we show it, whether you cry alone, cry to God, or with your family or friends. I will end this with Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
If you are in need of someone to talk to, please feel free to reach out to me. I may be a stranger, but we may be able to relate and I love chatting with those who understand best❤
Photo: Payton in the sand, with his new wings. I know he just loves being an angel😇