What It Really Feels Like To Lose A Child
The air cools and the leaves change, and before I know it, it's October. While others are going on and on about Pumpkin Spice Lattes and impressive Halloween costumes, I become acutely aware that it’s National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Those who will never understand share apologies for a few inescapable moments, while I remember every aching detail.
While friends are genuinely concerned and family members are wonderfully sympathetic, it’s difficult to describe how it feels to lose a child — especially one you never had the opportunity to formally meet.
I can’t say losing a child feels like the wind has been knocked out of you.
The doctor pulls up a chair close to your bedside and expresses deep regret and concern before the agonizing words escape his or her lips. You try to swallow his syllables or her sentences, but they refuse to stay down.
Instead, they crawl back up your throat, steal pieces of your heart and gasps of your breath. You try to breathe, aching to inhale clean air and a clear understanding. Instead, you’re left with utter disbelief and unapologetic heaves.
Losing a child feels like the end of an unwritten beginning. You knew him or her. You knew the kicks, felt the hiccups and heard the heartbeats. Yet, you were robbed of the chance to get to know him or her.
The children’s books you collected in anticipation of the arrival now read backward, with “The End” plastered across every first page.
I can’t say losing a child feels like an incomprehensible betrayal. You bought the clothes and picked out the names and envisioned a forever of fullness, not absence. Your plans of family vacations and games of catch suddenly vanish with a moment of scientific treachery.
There’s so much you can’t fathom and so much to discern, yet one inescapable fact remains constant: The future you so carefully crafted ended up being based on a picture that no longer exists.
Losing a child feels like the sudden jolt responsible for ending a dream. What at one time gloriously seemed too good to be true abruptly became tragically too good to be true.
You fell headfirst into a blissful future, never realizing that the moment you fell was the beginning of this inevitable end. The harsh reality is inescapable, despite your fervent attempts to fall back asleep.
I can’t say losing a child seems like a cruel warning. From the moment of your next pregnancy (or the moment you decide to try to get pregnant), you are on edge. You walk a fictitious line, as if some mythical creature is secretly judging your every maternal move. One false step, and it, too, will be taken away from you.
Losing a child feels like your final judgment. The guilt becomes overwhelming and simultaneously staggering, as you convince yourself it was all your fault. It had to have been something you did or something you ate or the way you slept.
Perhaps, if you didn't take that walk or have a sip of that Diet Coke, you wouldn’t be holding your head in your hands as tears trickle past your shaking wrists. Perhaps, if you weren’t you, it would have had a chance to become whom it should have been.
But mostly, I can’t say losing a child feels painfully lonely. You’re suddenly on the receiving end of sympathetic nods and genuine head tilts that, while meaningful, only seem to further separate you from the rest of the world.
You retract into yourself, replaying every seemingly insignificant moment that could have potentially been responsible for the overwhelming loss of which you’re now at the mercy.
While there are many who will never fully understand, there are so many who do.
You eventually realize you are not alone; there are men and women who, instead of going on and on about Pumpkin Spice Lattes and impressive Halloween costumes, remember that it’s National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
There are so many of us who remember.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It