A friend recently commented that not all of my blog posts are about child loss. It was a casual remark in the middle of a conversation and not really the topic at hand, so I didn’t dwell on it. But, in thinking about what she said, it’s true and yet it’s not.
I’ve written about my parents, my grandchildren, our blended and extended family, where I live, old friends, new friends, neighbors, life, death, faith . . . well, a lot of things. And while not every post mentions my daughter or losing her, all of these things – every aspect of my life – has been affected by child loss.
If you are a parent, whether by birth, adoption, or marriage to someone who brought children to the relationship, the moment that child entered your life, your life was changed. Everything about your life was changed. Your responsibilities; your emotions; your relationship with your spouse, other family members, friends, and colleagues. And, if you have more than one child, each child brought new complexities and changes. That’s life, right?
So, when the earthly presence of one of your children ceases to be, all of those changes are changed again. But, not in a way that we can prepare for. We know when a baby’s coming. We can read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” As our children grow and go through various stages, we can talk to other moms about how they handled tantrums, or potty training, or three kids playing three different sports at the same time.
Child loss is not supposed to happen. We are never prepared for it, even parents whose child had a terminal illness. Sometimes the changes brought by child loss feel like physical blows.
For the first couple of years after Rachel died, I felt like I was walking through fog. My emotions would swing between intense sorrow, anger, and numbness. After a while, though, I started to recognize how I was changing. How much I needed God. I looked at my relationships with family members, friends, casual acquaintances, and that maybe I should pay more attention to how I spent my time with them. It made me wish I had done some things differently and had better appreciated the lessons I learned from people who are no longer here. But, mostly it made me realize what’s precious in this life. So, I started writing some of this stuff down.
Writing about all of this makes me reflect and focus. It makes me see how I’ve changed and where I need to improve. My posts and journal entries and texts that I send to myself with fledgling ideas are breadcrumbs on my path. They help me look back and know where I’ve been. The Light up ahead lets me know where I’m going.
I pray that what I write about encourages other grieving parents that there is hope and light and life still, even as we are changed. And, even if I’m a little ahead of you on the path, we’re both going in the same direction.
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