Here’s a disclaimer: I’ve been writing this article for six months. I’d start and stop. My excuses ranged from “no one wants to hear about this” to “stay silent because what if someone blames you for your son’s death?”
Grief is sneaky like that. I was so certain I had moved on and that something as simple as writing an article would be easy for me to do, but here I am literally pushing the words out of my hands in hopes I can help another momma out.
You see, child loss isn’t covered in parenting classes. They only prepare you for the terrible twos and childhood illnesses.
How does one even begin to talk about the loss of a child?
It seems as if no matter how I started, it would never do justice to the hole I sometimes feel in my heart.
I’m often at a loss for words when I think about my oldest son, sometimes it seems like he’s still here just quietly playing with his puzzles in his room. Sometimes I can hear his laughter and singing next to me.
With grief, you often feel like you’re suspended between the past and the present. On one hand, you know your loved one is no longer here. On the other hand, you oddly feel like if you just call out their name, you’ll be able to see their face again. Should you hold on tight to their memory or let it all go and move on? There seems to be no right answer or rule book when it comes to child loss.
We lost our oldest son MJ to seizures in September 2018. MJ was 14 years old with a double diagnosis of autism and epilepsy. Once he started having seizures we begin to notice his quality of life dwindle before our eyes. All the speech gains we’d celebrated previously were suddenly gone. The ability to tie his shoes and do simple tasks without reminders were gone as well. But, we had faith things would get better. We prayed, we spoke affirmations over his life, we tried natural and traditional medicine, we changed his diet, and none of it worked.
About eight years after his initial epilepsy diagnosis he died in his sleep quietly in the night.
After his death, I beat myself up even more with thoughts in my head like What kind of mom would not know her son is dead in his bedroom? So your self-care is worth more than the life of your child?
For months, I went over scenarios that could’ve saved MJ. I started to question every parenting move I ever made: the supplements, the medications, the doctors, and the therapies. Was it enough or was it too much?
Although MJ wasn’t fully verbal, like all parents, we had plans for his life. Preparing for his care when we got too old and for his adult years which were quickly approaching. We were ready to spend the rest of our life with this beautiful boy.
I had to learn how to release my beautiful boy and stand firm in the job I had done for him.
I learned how to forgive myself and move through this grief. I learned that grief isn’t linear and that it is perfectly normal to feel great one moment and like crap the next.
I had to learn how to breathe deeply during the dreaded questions, “How many kids do you have? How’s MJ doing?”
Death forces you to create a new normal. It forces you to step outside your comfort zone to lean on others and ask for support.
I learned, via my son’s death, that we had built a fabulous community of family and friends who were there to support us in our journey.
I am so grateful I got a chance to be MJ’s mom and support him through the journey called his life.
For all the other mommas out there who have lost a child, if anything, I want you to know you did all you could do, and if you could’ve bent the universe and changed the outcome, you would have. However, life had other plans. I want you to be willing to see the blessings you received and be willing to accept support during the healing process.