To my fellow angel parent,

I hate that you are a part of the angel parent club. I would give anything for you not to be a part of this.  

You are going to cry more tears than you can imagine. You will wonder how you have any liquids left in your body.  

The screams that leave your body are sounds you didn’t know you could makewhen you realize your child really did die, and you can’t comprehend it.  

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You tell the story over and over again because you are trying to make sense of something that makes NO sense. 

You don’t know which end is up. You don’t know what you need because your brain is so discombobulated after experiencing every parent’s worst nightmare.  

You need help with everythingyou can barely formulate a sentence, let alone keep a household afloat and plan your child’s funeral. You are never prepared for planning your child’s funeral.  

People mean well and offer their help. They say, “Let me know if you need anything,” but the problem is you don’t know what you need. You realize you have to surrender because you can’t do this without help.  

Your world just got flipped upside down and you have no clue how to carry this pain. It doesn’t even feel possible because everything feels insurmountable. There is no guidebook on how to deal with the death of your child.  

Somehow, you keep breathing. Somehow, you keep putting one foot in front of the other while you walk around with half of your heart shattered in pieces.

It is ugly, and the pain is indescribable. It is a pain that can not be fixed.  

Society does not know what to do with this because we live in a fix-it world. Let’s put a bow on it and send it on its way. Child loss doesn’t work this way. Your present and your future were simultaneously demolished at once. Everything you once knew is no longer, and it is too much to face at once.  

This is a wrong that can’t be made right. It makes you question everything. Child loss is out of the natural order of things, which is why it is so painful to live with and to witness.  

You can’t find the beauty in it because it is not beautiful. “Everything happens for a reason” doesn’t work with child loss because there is no good reason for a child to die. 

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As time goes on, the death of a child does not get easier. In some ways, you get stronger and the pain is different.

You have to learn to love your child without their physical body and that takes time. 

The only advice I can impart is to be gentle with yourself. You have just endured severe trauma. Allow people to help and love you because that love can carry you when you can’t carry yourself. You don’t win any awards for doing it alone. We weren’t made to do life alone. You can truly see the beautiful side of humanity when you let people take care of you in your darkest hours. You are reminded there is beauty in the pain.  It doesn’t change what happened, but it can soften the blow.  

You will also feel an instant connection with other parents whose children have gone before them. Everyone in this club would give it all up to have their child back, but you will see parents display indescribable strength and that can guide you when your compass is awry. 

I’m sorry you are a parent to an angel, but I love you. There are people who have gone before you, and they have survived the unsurvivable. And you can, too . . . even when you feel like you can’t.  

Carrie Schmitt

Carrie Schmitt is an advocate for St. Baldricks and sibling loss. She has created a foundation called Love Like Jackson which funds art, music, and play therapy for children whose siblings have died. She is the mother of two boys, one in heaven and one on earth.