Grief changes over time, but the 'missing' never goes away when you are a grieving mother. I miss Katie just as much as ever. I don't like it, but I've accepted that this is my journey and my cross to bear.
After 6+ years, most days aren't spent in deep despair like they once were. Don't get me wrong, my heart still aches and yearns for my daughter, but now, I constantly wonder what her life, and my life, might have been like, had she not died at the age of seventeen.
No matter what age your child was when they died, you will see other children that age growing older and hitting major milestones in their life. Even if we have found peace, we will always wonder what might have been.
Katie's friends have already graduated from university and started careers. Some are in serious relationships. I'm sure in the next few years, we will see some of them get married and start families of their own.
I am grieving what might have been.
Katie might have completed her degree and might have started working as a nurse. She might have continued to date her then-boyfriend. She might have gotten married and might have had children. I might have been a grandmother to her children. She might have travelled as a 'nurse without borders' or worked for STARS Air Ambulance as she talked about so often, she might have moved around with her career or her husband's. She might have changed career paths. She might have done so many things.
Things get even more complicated when you are feeling genuine happiness for those families around you who are celebrating these milestones with their children. Yet, your child doesn't get to experience these moments, nor do you. This inner conflict may lead to anger, jealousy, and bitterness.
We think we can only feel one emotion at a time, when in reality we feel multiple feelings all at once. Let all these emotions flow and try to recognize them for what they are - feelings - not a definition of who you are. You are not angry, for example. You feel angry. Know that these feelings are a normal part of our grief journey. Recognize that feeling this way will be a part of your grief experience, as much as the hole in your heart.
I continue to walk through the grief and pain of child loss. My daughter's life was filled with promise, dreams, and hope.
We grieve the loss of those dreams that died along with our children.
We must allow ourselves time to hurt for what should have been.
I grieve a future my daughter will never have. Every day, I’m reminded of what could have been, but will never be. I grieve lost hopes and dreams, and the loss of my future friend and confidant.
As a bereaved mother, I’ll always grieve and wonder about what might have been, but I’m also learning how to find joy, despite this pain. I do my best to keep going to honour Katie, my son, and my husband.
I don't want her life and death to be in vain. I can choose to grow and be better, not bitter.
In her seventeen and a half years, Katie lived life to the fullest and it is now my goal to do the same. I know she would have wanted it that way.
I choose to look to a future where I can honour Katie, and live out some of her hopes and dreams as often as I can. I plan to travel to the destinations she dreamed of, stay connected to her friends, work toward my own hopes and dreams, and cherish those around me as she would have done.
Walking beside you,
PS: I have created a FREE video course for grieving mothers. This 5-part series address the common questions and struggles that moms experience after the loss of a child. You can request it here.