Matt, I’m having such a hard time believing that we are coming up on 50 months. The 3rd of March marks another month added to the long list of the months that have passed since your death. I find myself feeling guilty and anxious that I’ve not been able to follow that so called grief path. Society continues to believe that grief comes with an expiration date. I find this disturbing as it makes me feel like there really is something wrong with me.
I’m tired of trying to talk myself into feeling “better”. Like I should be able to adjust to life without my youngest son like someone adjusts to a change in the weather. As if enough time will ever pass to make me less vulnerable to those grief waves.
Those who have never experienced child loss have no idea how life altering and complicated our grief truly is. I’ve seen the look on peoples faces when I tell your story and begin to choke up. I’ve heard, ‘Oh, I thought it just happened recently, not four years ago”. As if a mother should put on the stiff upper lip as she speaks about her dead child.
I tell those who have never buried a child that this experience resembles childbirth. One can tell you how it feels and what might be expected, but until you experience it on a personal level you will never come close to imagining how those contractions can take you to a place of excruciating pain almost unimaginable to the human mind. The pain of child loss does the same.
As child birth comes with hopes and dreams for the future, child loss comes with the demolition of those dreams. That’s the worst part of a parents grief. Not only have we lost our child, we’ve also lost their future. In losing that future we have lost a large part of ourselves.
That’s the biggest misconception society will never understand. When a parent buries their child they bury so much more. Child loss goes against what society deems as normal. Children are supposed to bury their parents not the other way around. That is the so called “norm” we are taught to believe from childhood. I stressed about how you would survive after I died. Never once did I think I would be the one struggling to survive after your death.
You will be forever 37. Your future cut brutally short. The dreams of what I desperately wanted for you died with you and left me struggling to accept that your future was never meant to be. Those dreams of watching you take a bride. Of receiving a call that your son or daughter had arrived. Watching you experience fatherhood. Or watching you grow old, get gray and still want to walk on the beach with your mom.
Child loss is like non other. Parents like me remain unnamed. We are not widows, nor are we orphans. The English language has yet to identify a word to describe us. Losing a child is absolutely undescribable.
The length of time after child loss makes no difference. It’s new each day as parents wake and reality hits. Our brains and bodies have the grueling task of moving into the future as we leave a part of our hearts behind.