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.
Child loss and grief
Someone looked at this website the other day and commented that, if you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t know I was in the military. I never intended to keep this a “secret.” Mainly separate. But how much can you separate of your core identities?
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.
I think if we believe in fate, it can cause us to look at events in a symbolic light, and maybe take things a little more hard when they go wrong. Or maybe try to find meaning in the random tragedies of life. Was Adrian *meant* to die? I can’t believe this. It makes fate sound quite cruel.
I am a growing and evolving creature. I am a grieving mother, and I am ALSO so many other things. And this is where I am today–exactly who and where I need to be. And I am both messy and complicated and also uniquely human. And I love being able to accept that and just be okay.
I think we are all familiar with the golden rule, but one of the most powerful things I have ever heard was to follow the platinum rule: treat people how THEY prefer to be treated. The words we use matter. And if you can’t say something kind, or supportive, maybe don’t say anything, at all.
They said time heals, but they lied. Time doesn’t heal. It’s only a measure of the length of the process.
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 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.
It’s been commonly noted that the English language doesn’t currently have a word to describe a parent whose child is deceased. I choose the term, “Sea Glass Parent.” It acknowledges both the Broken and the Beauty in my life. It’s a metaphor, and also a piece of unique beauty on it’s own.
Two big influencers lost children this year. In the wake of heavy criticism of their public grief, I wrote this piece in defense of sharing photos and talking about our beloved deceased children. Today, that story was published in Scary Mommy.
I was scrolling through Instagram yesterday, and I came across a quote that really resonated. And then I realized—It was mine. Plagiarism is the one of the last things you think will happen in a mostly caring community like ours, but it happened to me.
“Positive vibes only” sounds like a great message, but it unfortunately acts as erasure of the full emotional spectrum. Authenticity is always preferable.
The death of my son changed me as a person more than any other event in my lifetime. The death of a loved one does that.
Death changes you. Permanently.
We are often asked to excuse hurtful behavior because the person had good intentions…An important corollary is that when someone has good intentions, they will want to make amends for any unintentional hurt. “Good intentions” are best revealed by changing behavior you’ve been informed is hurtful.
People like to talk about healing after loss, but “healing” from the death of my child is about as likely as regrowing a missing limb. It’s not happening.
Humans are hardwired to find points of comparison. It’s how we build community. It makes us feel less alone. In some cases, though, comparison feels minimizing. This is especially the case in loss. This is something to say instead.
Before Adrian died, I always thought of tragedy and loss as something that happened to OTHER people, but not to me. Of course I feel differently now.
How do you respond to the phrase, “You’re so strong” when you feel like you’re anything but? People tell me I’m strong, but I feel like I’m dying inside.
It feels like we are conditioned to look on the bright side of every dark situation, but sometimes there isn’t one. Sometimes, things just need to suck
After Adrian died, many people close to me offered to pray. I generally don’t find comfort in thoughts of a higher power myself, but I understand the desire to want to pray as a means to demonstrate care. If you are ask permission before offering prayer, it is generally going to be okay. I certainly appreciate the intentions behind it, especially when paired with consent.
It’s a common saying: “It’s okay to not be okay as long as you don’t stay that way.” I disagree. Why do we put a time limit on reality? It’s only when we recognize that ALL feelings are valid, that we have the space we need to make genuine change. And even then, change is optional. It has to be.
Please think, before you request a trigger warning, if the unpleasant sensation is worse for you than it is for the person speaking. You may find it “triggering” to hear about the death of my child. Imagine how much harder it is to live with it.
Sharing about my deceased child doesn’t mean that I’m stuck or broken or even that I am hurting. It simply means I am a parent.
I will forever love the sound of your name. #adrianjameshernandez