Each day I wake up and I live my life without one of my children. Being a bereaved parent is hard. I live two lives. One where I pretend everything is fine and dandy and another where my heart is constantly aching and longing for my child that I have lost. I never would have imagined that this would be my reality as a mother. Today, I am able to hold one of my children in my arms, another forever in my heart, and one in my womb.
Every day is a challenge. When I am in local places with my son River, I often get the question that many bereaved parents get asked and they don’t know how to answer, “How many children do you have?” This question always stops us in our tracks. Some not wanting the stranger to feel uncomfortable will quickly answer and not mention their child in heaven and continue on their way. Others, like myself, would feel awkward for not mentioning their child in heaven and tell the stranger about them. Child loss happens often, yet it is barely discussed. I will always break the silence and speak of my daughter Millie and the effects of child loss.
Being a bereaved parent is strength. Each day we wake up and live our life without one of our precious children. Bereaved parents grieve every single day and still manage to keep going. On holidays, we go to our children’s grave and weep while we pray, for birthdays we release a balloon to heaven and wonder how our children would be at their age, we go to baby showers with a smile while staring at the expecting mother’s belly wishing it was still us, we visit newborn babies and hold them tightly and reminisce about the day we held our sweet angels, we love on our other children hard and unconditionally and panic of the thought of ever losing another child. As bereaved parents, we have developed this incredible new form of patience and love, because we simply know how short life can be and how quickly a part of your heart can be taken away from you to live eternally in heaven. We will forever speak of our children we have lost and always long for them.
Bereaved parents are all around you. They are at your local grocery stores, Sunday services, school’s open houses, local parks, favorite restaurants dining next to you, and they are walking around daily aiming to live the best life they can while missing an enormous piece of their life here on Earth. Bereaved parents come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors. There are some who have suffered a stillbirth, some who are elderly who had to say goodbye to their child before they were called home to heaven, and there are some who have no living children as they had to face many storms in their life.
As human beings, we must be kind always. Everyone you encounter has a struggle or is going through their own storm that you may not know anything about. Kindness is free and it should be sprinkled everywhere like glitter. As a bereaved mother, I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who acknowledge my loss of Millie and accept me for where I am. I have my good days and my bad days and their gift of friendship gives me the freedom to let my guard down and to feel. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but we need to feel. Allowing yourself to let it all go is healthy and a price we pay for unconditional love. If you know a bereaved parent, check on them. Even if it’s been 20 or more years since they have put one of their children in heaven, they are still longing for them. Be the friend who acknowledges, the friend who wants to speak of their name, the friend that will take them out, the friend that will wrap their arms around them and just give them a hug when they need it the most, and the friend who is simply there always.
Dear fellow Bereaved parents, I see you, I know you, I feel for you, and each night as I pray, I pray for peace for you. This club that we are in comes with many trials, yet having each other to relate to is what makes the journey a little less exhausting. God bless you today and everyday and may he bless your beautiful children in heaven always.