Have you ever sat in the mortician’s office?

I have.

I never planned on it. Nobody does.

But then you lose a child. And there you are.

Choosing an urn and figuring out some sort of ceremony to honor the little one you barely got a chance to know.

None of it is fair. It will never, ever be fair.

You will do your best. What else can you do? You will be depressed beyond anything you could have imagined. You will sink so low you think you never will rise again.

This I know.

I’m looking at my daughter’s urn on our fireplace right now. The space it occupies should be filled with her pictures instead. Photos of she and her surviving twin sister. Running, playing, smiling. But that space is not what I want it to be. Not what I planned it to be. So, every day, every night, I look up at my fireplace, when everything around me is chaotic and stressful. When my children who reside on this earth are being crazy and my husband and I are just trying to stay afloat.

And I am sad. And I cry. More than I ever thought I would or could cry.

And I remember sitting in the mortician’s office. I remember his somber face and tone. I have to believe he didn’t want to be there any more than we wanted to be.

He asked us questions about what we wanted to do to remember our daughter. He showed us pictures of urns and wrote down our daughter’s full name. He helped us pen our daughter’s obituary for the local newspaper.

I pity that man.

For all his studies, for all his professional preparation, did he know what he was getting himself into?

Did he know what it would be like to look a grieving mother in the eye and help her plan a memorial service for her 3-week-old child?

I will never know. And I will forever be grateful for the compassion and grace the mortician showed my family during the darkest time of our life.

I would never, ever wish what we endured on anyone in the world. Not a soul. Because the hurt—the agony a grieving parent experiences—is too much. It’s brutal.

Almost seven years after losing my daughter, the pain of losing the child who grew inside me keeps me up at night and makes me cry into my pillow on a regular basis. I think of her every second of every day.

When I am happy and joyous, it is genuine. Life has gone on, and I am blessed with my wonderful spouse and the amazing, beautiful children we have gone on to have in this world.

And yet . . . there is a darkness inside of me. Something is missing. Perhaps it is cliché to say that, but it is the truth. My beautiful family is incomplete. We always will be.

I wonder what the mortician does at night. Is he sad after all he sees and hears? Is he numb to the pain? I don’t judge or begrudge him if that’s the case. Maybe that’s the only way to survive that kind of business.

I hope you never have to sit in the mortician’s office. I wish I had never been there myself. And yet, I can’t change my story or journey. I will continue to wake up every day and vow to take care of my earthly daughters and be the best possible mother I can be.

I will do that, and I will simultaneously miss my daughter, Hannah, who left this earth too early. Who I believe visits us in the form of exquisite rainbows and multi-colored butterflies.

If I’m being honest, it is a tiny consolation. It’s not enough. But here we are.

If you have lost a child, if you have visited the mortician’s office, I am truly sorry, from the bottom of my broken heart. I send you love and light.

Yours truly,
A grieving mama

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Leslie Froelich

 Leslie Froelich is a freelance writer and co-founder and facilitator of a postpartum depression support group in the Cleveland, Ohio, area, run through the organization POEM (Perinatal Outreach and Encouragement for Moms). Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, The Huffington Post, American Greetings, Postpartum Progress, Motherly, Hot Moms Club, and The Purrington Post. Leslie is a former full-time reporter and current freelance writer and translator for Mundo Hispanico newspaper, a Spanish-language affiliate of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Currently, she stays home with her two daughters, Elizabeth and Maggie, her cat, Liberty, and she has been married to her spouse, Nick, since 2007.