The Truths I Wish I Had Known
Dear Fellow Bereaved Heart Parent,
Let me start off by saying, I am so incredibly sorry that you have to read this. I know by now that countless people have expressed their sympathies to you. Family, friends, people you haven’t spoken to since 4th grade, have all come out of the woodwork to tell you how sorry they are. Some will have expressed this eloquently, some awkwardly, but all with the best of intentions. A few well meaning types may even try to give you advice on how to cope with all this. Rest assured, I won’t. If there is anything that I have learned in the two years since my son passed, it’s that everyone’s grief journey is different. I am very lucky to have a fellow heart mom that I have been able to talk to though mine. She lost her son a few months before me, and she has been the kindest, most patient, and realistic person I could ever hope for. I hope I can provide you with even half of the comfort that she has given me. When Ben died, I was my own biggest critic. I pushed myself the hardest and I will admit that I had some pretty unrealistic ideas regarding how I would handle life going forward. I am going to present you with some truths that I wished I would have learned sooner.
First and foremost, you are not a superhero and no one expects you to be. Would you run a race on a broken foot? Hearts, just like feet, need time to heal. Please take care of yourself. Eat. Even if you don’t want to, and can only manage a little bit. Try to sleep, but don’t beat yourself up too much if it doesn’t come easily for awhile. Go outside. Maybe a trip to the mailbox is all you can muster for the day, or maybe you feel like getting out and driving for awhile. Whatever works for you, is perfect.
You will blame yourself, and the early morning hours when you are trying and failing to get that sleep I mentioned, will seem like the best time to do so. You will question every decision you made and didn’t make in regards to your child’s care. You will wonder if you did enough, or too much to try to keep them here with you. It’s okay to feel this way. Please know though, that you did exactly what you needed to do when it came to your child. You were strong, and wonderful and your child loved you so very much, even if they were too young to be able to tell you that.
You will cry, and it will probably be at the strangest and most random times. I am sure you will expect to cry a little on birthdays and holidays, but there will be times that tears will come when you least expect. When you see a child around the same age/ gender that your child would be, you may get teary. Maybe you see their favorite toy or hear a song that reminds you of them and you choke up. Or maybe you’re grocery shopping and tear up for seemingly no good reason. Trust me, it’ll happen, and that’s fine. Cry when you need to. Shed a tear or two, or ugly cry in a way that would make Oscar winners jealous. It may not seem like it, but sometimes a good cry can be therapeutic. There is no time limit on this.
You will smile again. You will even laugh too. Don’t feel guilty if this happens sooner or later than you thought it would. Hopefully in time, the tears will come less and the laughter and smiles will be more abundant. There is plenty of time for both. It may take time, but you will notice the beauty of life again. I promise, there is hope after loss.