There will never come a day, hour, minute or second I stop loving or thinking about my daughter. Just as parents of living children unconditionally love their children always and forever, so do bereaved parents. I want to say and hear her name just the same as non-bereaved parents do. I want to speak about my deceased child as normally and naturally as you speak of your living ones.
I love my child just as much as you love yours– the only difference is mine lives in heaven and talking about her is unfortunately quite taboo in our culture. I hope to change that. Our culture isn’t so great about hearing about children gone too soon, but that doesn’t stop me from saying my daughter’s name and sharing her love and light everywhere I go. Just because it might make you uncomfortable, doesn’t make her matter any less. My daughter’s life was cut irreversibly short, but her love lives on forever. And ever.
Bereaved parents share an unspeakable bond. In only 4.5 months I have been navigating the world as a bereaved parent.
I am continually struck by the power of the bond between bereaved parents. Strangers become kindreds in mere seconds– a look, a glance, a knowing of the heart connects us, even if we’ve never met before. No matter our circumstances, who we are, or how different we are, there is no greater bond than the connection between parents who understand the agony of enduring the death of a child. It’s a pain we suffer for a lifetime, and unfortunately only those who have walked the path of child loss understand the depth and breadth of both the pain and the love we carry.
I will grieve for a lifetime. Period. The end. There is no “moving on,” or “getting over it.” There is no bow, no fix, no solution to my heartache. There is no end to the ways I will grieve and for how long I will grieve. There is no glue for my broken heart, no exile for my pain, no going back in time. For as long as I breathe, I will grieve and ache and love my daughter with all my heart and soul. There will never come a time where I won’t think about who my daughter would be, what she would look like as she got older, and how she would be woven perfectly into the tapestry of my family. I wish people could understand that grief lasts forever because love lasts forever; that the loss of a child is not one finite event, it is a continuous loss that unfolds minute by minute over the course of a lifetime. Every missed birthday, holiday, milestone– should-be back-to-school school years and graduations; weddings that will never be; grandchildren that should have been but will never be born– an entire generation of people are irrevocably altered forever.
This is why grief lasts forever. The ripple effect lasts forever. The bleeding never stops.
It’s a club I can never leave but is filled with the most shining souls I’ve ever known. This crappy club called child loss is a club I never wanted to join, and one I can never leave, yet is filled with some of the best people I’ve ever known. And yet we all wish we could jump ship– that we could have met another way– any other way but this. Alas, these shining souls are the most beautiful, compassionate, grounded, loving, movers, shakers and healers I have ever had the honor of knowing. They are life-changers, game-changers, relentless survivors and thrivers. Warrior moms and dads who redefine the word brave.
Every day loss parents move mountains in honor of their children gone too soon. They start movements, change laws, spearhead crusades of tireless activism. Why? In the hope that even just one parent could be spared from joining the club. If you’ve ever wondered who some of the greatest world changers are, hang out with a few bereaved parents and watch how they live, see what they do in a day, a week, a lifetime. Watch how they alchemize their grief into a force to be reckoned with, watch how they turn tragedy into transformation, loss into legacy.
Love is the most powerful force on earth, and the love between a bereaved parent and his/her child is a lifeforce to behold. Get to know a bereaved parent. You’ll be thankful you did.