My darling daughter
It’s 8 months today since you left us, and I can find no words. I have cried more than I knew was possible in the last 11 days. Crying for the loss of you all over again, crying for the loss of your brother, crying for the loss of hope, for the shattered dreams. I found it so hard to cry those first 3 months after you died, while I was still so deep in shock. But this time, I just cry and cry. I think the shock is less, but the trauma more if that makes any sense? I am just so very very physically weak and my emotional base is so much lower than when you left us.
I was given a book this week so much of which has resonated with me. It’s called “Living on the Seabed” by Lindsay Nicholson. This passage particularly jumped out at me last night as it is so very true!
“When I think of all the people who have said to me since that they didn’t write or call because they didn’t know what to say and didn’t want to make things worse, I want to say to them you should have done it anyway. Sometimes the most stupid, clunky, cringe-making comments are the ones that help the most because they bring you back to the here and now. No one should ever be afraid of saying the wrong thing. Saying nothing at all may turn out to be so much worse.”
I borrow words today that a very dear friend gave to me, which I felt perfectly spoke to my heart.
“Dear Newly Bereaved Parent
This will likely be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Survive this. And eventually, maybe even thrive again. At times it will feel virtually impossible. You’ll wonder how a human being can survive such pain. You’ll learn you know how to defy the impossible. You did it from the moment your child’s heart stopped, and yours kept beating. You do it with every breath and step you take. You’re doing it now. And now. And now. Your fingernails will become bloodied from clawing your way from the depths of despair. Your spirit will grow weary from fighting to survive. Your eyes will cry more tears than you ever thought possible. Your arms will ache an ache for which there aren’t words. For a lifetime. Your heart will break into a million tiny pieces. You’ll wonder how it will ever mend again.
But with every morsel of unspeakable pain, there is love. An abundance of love. A love so strong, so powerful, it will buoy you. You will not drown. Others will say things that are intended to be helpful, but aren’t. Take what is, leave what isn’t. Still, you’ll meet others along the journey who will get it without ever saying a word. Kind souls who will breathe you back to life again. Let them. Years down the road you’ll tire of hearing the same advice and clichés, over and over again. Advice you don’t want or need. Everyone will try to tell you how to best “fix” your broken heart. The trouble is, you don’t need fixing. There is no fix for this.
Eventually you’ll learn how to carry the weight of this pain. At times it will crush you. At other times you’ll learn how to shoulder the burden with newfound grit and grace. Either way, you’ll learn how to bend with the weight of it. It will not break you. Not entirely. And even if you don’t believe in hope– not even a little– hope will light the way for you. At times you won’t realize your path is lit. The darkness feels all consuming when you’re in it. But know the light is there. Surrounding you now. And now. And now. Know you’re being guided, by all of us who have survived this impossible hell. You may not hear us, or see us, but we are with you. Beside you. Hand in hand, heart to heart. Always. Just like your child still is.
Above all else, know that no one can save you but yourself. You are the heroine/hero of this sad story. You are the one who gets to decide how, and if, you’ll survive this. You are the one who will figure out a way to survive the sleepless nights, and the endless days. You are the one who will decide if and when you’ll find a purpose again that means something to you. You are the one who will choose how you’ll live with the pain. You are the one who will decide what you’ll to cling to, what will make your life worth living again. You, and only you, get to decide how you’ll survive. No one else can do this for you.
People will speak of “closure,” of “moving on,” of “getting over it,” of grief coming to an end. Smile kindly, and know, anyone who says these things hasn’t lived this thing called grief. To lose a child is to lose the very heart and soul of you. It is overwhelmingly disorienting. It takes a long, long time to find yourself again. It takes a long time to grow new life around the chasm of such grave loss. It takes a long time to grow beauty from ashes.
There will always be a hole in your heart, the size and shape of your child. Your child is absolutely irreplaceable. Nothing will fill the void your child left. But your heart will grow bigger– beautifully bigger– around the empty space your child left behind. The love and pain you carry for your precious child will be woven into every thread of your being. It will fuel you to do things you never dreamed you could do. Eventually, you’ll figure out how to live for both of you. It will be beautiful, and it will be hard.
But, the love you two share will carry you through. You will spread this love everywhere you go. Eventually, you’ll be able to see again. Eventually, you’ll find your way again. Eventually, you’ll realize– you survived.”
I love you my darling daughter, with all of my heart. May you and your brother treasure each other and look down on us and send us strength…and hope.