My name is Sarah, and I am Koa’s mamaa title I feel privileged to hold. 

My precious Koa was a bright light in the world, and he was a force, truly. He was wild and independent and adventurous and joyful and totally confident in himself. I never once worried about his future because he was such a capable and self-sufficient little guy. Even at the age of two, he embodied the meaning of his name: warrior. He had the biggest personality and he made friends wherever we went, he was so extroverted and friendly. I was always in awe of him, and I could see how special he made people feel. He made ME feel special to be his mom.

Koa died 10 months ago on February 10, 2019 when he fell through the ice at our lake. He was nine days shy of two-and-a-half years old.

He spoke into the deepest part of my being twice that day. The first time was when I knew something was wrong and he was not OK, and the second time was during the hours of CPR they performed on him at the hospital. He said so clearly into my soul, “It’s OK, Mama, I will visit you,” and a wave of warm peace washed over me. That’s when I knew he was gone. 

The experience of losing my precious child has been more horrible and excruciating than I could have ever imagined, but it has also been more beautiful than I would have ever expected.

The hours my husband and I spent with him in the ER while we waited for the coroner were the most sacred and beautiful hours of my life. Koa was never more exquisitely beautiful to me than he was as he lay in front of me, dead on a hospital bed. It doesn’t make any sense.

And it doesn’t make sense that on the day my heart shattered into dust it also grew. Exponential amounts of love burst from my broken heart in that room, like a million doves suddenly released from a cage, something else that doesn’t make any sense. But that is something I’m finding about death: in so many ways its power is inexplicable . . . and in some ways, it’s very beautiful. It doesn’t make any sense.

I learned the secret to life the day we lost our Koa, and that secret is simply love.

I love more deeply because of this little life we created, and I love more fully because of this little life we lost. Nothing else matters. Literally nothing else. 

I am not the same me I was 10 months ago. Ten months ago, I was reborn. My life continues to be excruciating, unbearable, and painful, but it’s also beautiful and sacred in that inexplicable way. I see the world entirely differently now from how I did before. I hardly know who I am now or how to manage my grief, but I’m being gentle with myself.

I’m an infant; I’m only 10 months old.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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

Order Now

Sarah Elle Norman

Sarah Elle Norman holds many titles in life, but her favorite is that of mom. When she conceived her first son, Koa, naturally, he was a true miracle after 3 years of fertility treatments. Her second miracle, Ash, came into the world 17 months after his brother, and Sarah had everything she ever wanted in the world. That world shattered when Koa died tragically and unexpectedly at the age of 2.5. Sarah is piecing it back together by sharing her experiences of grief and by gifting other bereaved families with memorial casts of their child's hand through the non-profit foundation she's starting called, "Koa's Hands."

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

Don’t Forget the Heartbroken Mothers

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman sad sitting on couch

The loss I recently experienced hit differently than others I’ve experienced. I thought that with three kids already in tow, it wouldn’t ache quite this bad. But it has. I don’t know if it’s because I was further along or because my entire household was over-the-top giddy and excited for this precious new life to enter the world. Perhaps it was the trauma of how everything happened or because I actually gave birth to him and held him. RELATED: We Lost Our Baby at 17 Weeks Pregnant Attending my first appointment to confirm the loss was brutal. I was surrounded...

Keep Reading