In conjunction with two beautiful therapists, Mary from Sarah’s Heart and Diane from Diane Biggs Psychotherapy, this latest post is a compilation of frequently asked questions about therapists and therapy, specific to the child loss experience.
The death of my child is an event that lives with me; his absence is palpable; his presence is missing. And this is when I truly began to understand this monster called grief. You ask how one gets past losing a baby, and my answer is still—no. You don’t.
Before Adrian died, I don’t know that I would have understood this, but it is absolutely possible to parent a child after their death. It looks a little different. It’s still very real. #SeaGlassParenting
I didn’t have much experience with death or grief prior to the death of my son, and so I’m embarrassed that I genuinely used to believe everything was “okay” right after the funeral. This is how it’s often portrayed on TV. This is wrong.
I have continually been surprised by the way my body reacts to various anniversaries surrounding Adrian and his death. Sometimes they are “important” things like his birth or due date, but sometimes they are just random Tuesdays. It reminds me that regardless of the days we consider most relevant, the body keeps a calendar of its own.
I realize, when I look back at these moments with pain, that the thing I wanted least to know, was the true value behind the relationships that seemed valuable to me. Because it wasn’t what I thought it to be. And that kind of knowledge is quite hard. The death of my son taught me who people in my life really were, and that is knowledge I would rather not know.
Hearing the news was definitely the worst part. “There is no heartbeat.” It broke me. I fell. And the “worst” pieces just kept building.
When I pictured this moment during our pregnancy, I had all the typical first birthday dreams. I thought about outfits, and cute party hats, and an elephant cake you would smash more than eat. I thought about family, and packed photo books, and maybe a few presents. But mostly just love.
I don’t know how long you were struggling. I felt your movements, I thought you were excited. I thought you were getting ready to come. I wish I had known. I wish I had saved you.
29 June 2017: The day my son died – When she couldn’t find a heartbeat with the doppler, I think the idea started to form in my head, but I wasn’t quite ready…I remember the doctor’s face as he said the words, “I’m sorry.” My next memory is of someone screaming. It was me.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can look back on my pregnancy and identify the signs both I am my providers should have seen before Adrian died. There were multiple problems that led to his preventable stillbirth.
I call it a nuclear bomb. It’s a conversation ender. You meet someone, you’re making good small talk, and then they ask about your family. I will never deny my son. He is a permanent part of me. And so it happens — I tell them, “Yes, I have a child. He died shortly before he was born.” And everything stops. It’s no longer a casual conversation.
You sheltered him for nine months. You expanded with him, kept him safe. I watched you grow stretch marks, tiger stripes. I talked to him through you. I never thought to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you for holding my son, for cradling him even in death. He only ever knew love in you.
I know what you want to talk about. I know how it pains you when others try to chase your words away. It isn’t a question of guilt. It’s fact — if you had chosen to listen, I would be alive.