Dear Angel Mama,
I see you trying to hold it together when others are looking your way, then removing your mask as you fall to pieces once again. I see you questioning your ability to survive the death of your child and I know how you feel.
Your child is gone and all that is left are what ifs and the should haves. Guilt and pain are a constant companion and your “new normal” changes every day. There is nothing normal about burying a child. Our children are supposed to outlive us. We are supposed to be able to protect them and fix everything, or so we thought.
There is an invisible string that attaches all bereaved mothers by the heart. We may not know one another at all, but we know the pain of child loss. And because of that, we are never truly alone.
Child loss changes you, but so does hope.
Hope comes from meeting and talking with other mothers and survivors on this path. Hope comes from sharing your story. Hope comes from connection.
I know it seems impossible some days, especially in the beginning but as one grieving mama to another, please know that you will survive. I remember those early days and gritting my teeth when someone said those words, but when a bereaved mother told me I would survive, I could see she spoke from her heart and with experience and I started to believe her words. I could see the journey in her eyes and hear it in her words. That's when I believed it was possible.
Three weeks after my daughter Katie died in a car accident, I saw the living proof that surviving child loss is possible.
We lost our daughter Katie 17 days before Christmas. After much consideration and uncertainty, I went to my first mom’s support group just days before Christmas. I had been invited into this group because I had lost a child. What a club to belong to I thought, but I went anyway.
Looking back now, I have no idea how I was able to go to this group so early on in my journey. I even had to drive on the roadway where my daughter Katie died to get to the meeting place. But I made up my mind that I was going to go, even if I only lasted a minute. Well, I went and stayed for four hours. I had found my people.
These moms understood me, they understood my hurt, they understood my words, and they understood my tears.
I’ll never forget being with these incredible women and realizing that they were not only coping, they were surviving, and for the most part they were doing ok. They went to work, even if they had changed careers. They had families, they were standing, and breathing and living. They were surviving. It made me realize that I would survive too.
That moment was such a gift for me. I realized that I could learn to carry my grief, continue to be a mother for my teenaged son, learn to live again and ultimately figure out my new normal. These moms gave me hope and inspiration.
The fact that you keep standing up, regardless of how many times you fall down means that you can keep getting up.
Our grief will always be with us. It never goes away. But life has a way of growing around our grief, allowing us to find peace and survive. With time comes strength and knowledge.
The other thing I realized at that gathering was that I was not alone. This group of incredible women and I shared a horrible reality: we had lost a child. Prior to meeting this group, I had felt so alone, even in a room filled with people. I felt no one else could possibly know the pain of child loss.
Now I know that I am not alone, and neither are you, Angel Mama.
Sending love and light,
PS: Click on this link to download my Grief Relief Guide and take a look at my book Journey to HEALING: A Mother's Guide to Navigating Child Loss