This photo was not taken days, weeks or months after my son died. It wasn’t taken within the first year after his death.

It was taken today. Over 2.5 years later.

This is grief.

It doesn’t expire or come with an end date. It cuts through your heart and seeps to the deepest spaces where it will reside for a lifetime.

Holding your child’s lifeless body one last time . . . your brain trying to process the unimaginable while your heart is trying to memorize every detail of their face, their hands, their scent. This moment will never be erased from the memory. This is an image carried forever. It shows up unexpectedly and unannounced. Year, after year, after year.

We all have what we call “our season”. For those who have never experienced losing a child, their season is a favorite time of year because it’s their choice weather, carries their interest of activities, they enjoy the smell in the air, or look forward to a special holiday.

When a child loss parent mentions their “season” it is much different.

Our season does not make us excited. It is something we dread instead of look forward to. It is a time period we want to skip. Put us in a coma and wake us when it’s over. Our season comes with onset anxiety and PTSD. The smells and temperature of our season remind us of birthdays that will never happen, the memories of our sweet angels when they were with us on earth and the worst day of our lives.

During our season it takes everything out of us to keep going. We are emotionally exhausted. We are distant to everyone in our lives. We do not always respond to texts, emails or answer calls because it’s too much right now. We stay in more, declining invites we would normally say yes to. We don’t have the energy to fake the smile and pretend life is great. We are forgetful and unreliable.

Our season is full of broken dreams and questions we will never have the answers to. The what ifs, what would they look like, what would they be doing now.

Each year we have hope the next one will be easier. But it isn’t. It’s always the same, it’s always hard.

When our season passes a weight is lifted and we catch our breath thankful it is over. Shocked we survived once again.

If you know someone going through this be patient and kind. Expect nothing from them. If they cancel plans at the last minute do not be angry with them. Don’t take their actions (or lack of actions) personally. It‘s not you. They are using every ounce of strength they have to find their way through the darkness and back to the light. This is exhausting and they don’t have the energy for anything else.

My season begins very soon. You could say I am in the pre-season phase . . . I feel it coming. Almost a month away from what would have been a third birthday. Thinking about it knocked me to my knees today, the anxiety suffocating.

But there is a difference between this year and last year, and the one before. This time I know it’s not going to be easier. This year I am accepting it and not fighting it. I know what’s coming. I know what it does to me. I have learned and understand what my limitations are during this timeframe of my life.

I am going to stand still allowing it to hit with full force, a tidal wave crashing into me. As I lose my balance I will fall. I‘ll let the wave of grief wash over every inch of my body and hold my breath until it’s over.

When it has passed I will rise.

I‘ll stare at the sun setting in the horizon and remind myself it hurts this much because you love him so much. I wouldn’t trade that love for anything. Not even to take away this pain.

This post originally appeared on Spaces Between You

 

You may also like:

This is Grief

You Cannot Control Seasons of Grief; You Can Only Move Through Them

To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Elisha Palmer

Elisha Palmer is the mother of four; 3 children on earth, 1 in Heaven. Her third child, Knox Owen, a perfectly healthy and happy baby took a nap at daycare and never woke up at just 3.5 months old. His death ruled as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). As her and her husband entered their new reality as child loss parents they were broken but also knew there was something they needed to do to help other families. They began the foundation, Knox Blocks Foundation, to provide families with Owlet Smart Socks, a device that tracks infants heart rate and oxygen levels while they sleep, alerting parents if something is abnormal. Elisha, a former freelance writer began her blog, Spaces Between You, as an outlet and way to process her grief. Many loss parents have found comfort in her words and relate to the raw truth she tells of what living through child loss is like. She continues to stumble through this journey, finding the light through the cracks, with her husband Mark, son Hunter, daughter Gracen and rainbow baby Maverick by her side.

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

Growing Slowly around the Grief of Losing Your Mom

In: Grief, Loss
Sad woman sitting on couch with folded arms

Everyone has heard about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Society often assumes the stages of grief happen in order, but those who encounter grief know that’s not true. Undergoing grief can feel like riding a rollercoaster blindfolded—disorienting and chaotic. There are numerous ups, downs, and twists you wouldn’t anticipate. Grief is like an ocean. When waves come crashing, it feels like you’re being swept away. Regardless of their size, waves are always rough. Despite everything, you also get pushed forward to the shore after every wave. Sometimes, you may feel like you are drowning...

Keep Reading

The Shattering Grief of Suicide

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Sad person sitting in darkened hallway, black and white image

Navigating through my second Christmas without my dad, the weight of grief seemed even heavier this year. In fact, everything felt and looked different to me. As I unwrapped the ornaments and cards he gave me over the years, a tidal wave of madness and sadness engulfed me. I know many feel sadness and grieve during these times, but let me just say . . . suicide is a different type of grief. My vibrant, happy, physically fit dad committed suicide on April 30th, 2022. There, I said it. In the aftermath, a myriad of emotions consumed me. One perplexing...

Keep Reading

Dear Dad, Maybe You’re the Bird

In: Grief, Loss
Young girl sitting on father's lap, older color photo

Maybe you’re the bird. The one I see outside my door. The one who flies so low it seems you’re somehow weighted down. Like you’re carrying more than just yourself. Like you’re carrying a message. Just for me. Maybe you’re the rain. The sound I hear that reminds me so much of home. Of you. Of driving in your car as a little girl when you looked over and asked my opinion about everything. When you made someone so small feel so very big. RELATED: Dad Left a Legacy in Fried Green Tomatoes Maybe you’re the butterfly. The one I...

Keep Reading

I Hope You Never Know What it’s Like to Forget Who You Are

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Woman staring at camera, black-and-white photo

I write best when I’m passionate. It’s always been my release. But lately, I’ve struggled to write. I’ve struggled to find purpose in my words. It’s all been twisted and choppy, not a bit poetic or beautiful. These feelings are what the struggles of loss, parenting, work, and marriage push against. It’s finding yourself over and over again and trying to make sense of the senseless. It leaves you questioning most things and leaves you feeling broken with no idea how to put yourself or others back together. I hope you never know. I hope you never know what it’s...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Know How to Live Without My Sister, But I Must

In: Grief
Sisters smiling in posed color photo

I’ve spent a year of my life living in a haze. Holding my breath, afraid to exhale. Focusing on staying in this frozen moment where there is no reality. I pressed the pause button. Pumped the brakes. I’ll stay right here and wait for my life, life as I knew it, life as I loved it, to come back around. Where there is no future to mourn, thinking about the way it should have been and no torturous past to remember, recalling the horror of that day. The special occasions that will come are now outlined in sadness. Wait, she’s...

Keep Reading

6 Ways to Be a Friend to Someone Grieving

In: Friendship, Grief, Loss
Friends hugging

Grief can truly be such a lonely experience after you lose a loved one. The loneliness isn’t necessarily because you don’t have anyone around you. It’s because only you had your relationship with the person who died, and it’s hard to find anyone to replace that. I have first-hand experience. My mom died recently and unexpectedly at the age of 62 and I at the age of 34, and it single-handedly has been one of the most painful experiences of my life. However, having support from family and friends will help you navigate this difficult time. Without it, the loneliness...

Keep Reading

These Final Gifts from My Mom Are Hard to Let Go

In: Grief, Loss
Little girls boots with worn toes, color photo

My daughter wobbled toward me in silver, square-toed go-go boots, one heel dislodged and flopping against our hallway’s faux wood floor. On her opposite foot, a striped sock peaked curiously through the growing toe hole. “Mama,” she said. Her tiny voice raised another octave, “My shoe!” I sighed, then sat on the floor. Waves of grief washed over me as I contemplated what kind of glue might capably reconstruct the shoe’s sole. Elmer’s glue? Textile glue? Maybe Krazy Glue? I knew the boots should just go into the bin. And yet, they—along with a vibrant, overbearing cat dress that would...

Keep Reading

A Daughter Is Never Ready To Let Her Dad Go

In: Grief, Loss
Grown daughter hugging older man

I wasn’t ready to let you go. When I was a little girl, one of my greatest fears was that something would happen to my parents. If they had to go somewhere, I would nervously follow their route in my mind, mentally noting where they probably were and when they should be back home. If they hadn’t returned by the time I thought they should, my imagination would get the best of me as I pictured a thousand things that could have happened. But the day I sat having a late breakfast at my kitchen table and saw an ambulance...

Keep Reading

Memories of Mom Are Everywhere

In: Grief, Motherhood
Family campsite with bikes, tents, and totes, color photo

Two weeks after my daughter was born, my dad drove from Pennsylvania to our home in Florida to stay with me for the week. I was nursing my daughter on the couch when my dad drug in four humongous plastic storage bins and staged them next to the Pack ‘N Play in the living room. The bins were full of my baby clothes, baby shower cards, a silver spoon, plastic and probably lead-infused rattles, and two cellophane balloons neatly folded. A time capsule of my babyhood. I thought of my mom’s hands being the last to touch these items. Had...

Keep Reading