Parenting After Loss: Walking the path of grief

After Joseph died, and my little rainbows joined us in quick succession, I made a promise to the four of them, and to Joseph, that we would not allow our loss to impact on our happiness as a family. And for the most part, we don’t.

Thanks to Joseph we laugh a little louder, we believe a little harder, and we love a whole lot stronger. Everything we are, and everything we do, we carry him with us and look for the positives in all he taught us in his far too short life.

And yet at times like this when one of my little doves is unwell and we are scared and uncertain of what that may mean, it is then I realise, despite my insistence our loss will not define us, that parenting after loss is infinitely harder than I ever allow myself to acknowledge it to be.

Because regardless of how much we are reassured, or how thorough the testing, and regardless of all logical thought and fact based evidence, I still find myself fighting against my most irrational fear and the never ending panic of losing another of my children.

And I guess that right there is the crux of it, the unspoken fear which I push to the back of my mind, too afraid to say out loud, too painful to even consider. Because although, before Joseph, I was very much aware that parents lost their children, I never thought for one minute that those things happened to people like me.

And I think that is why parenting after loss is so incredibly hard, learning to navigate our grief, carry our sadness, and, ultimately, battle our worst fears. Because from the moment my little rainbows were placed in my arms, so tiny and new with their eyes wide open and staring into mine, I promised each of them I would keep them safe, I would protect them, and that I would never allow anything bad happen to them as it had their big brother.

What I didn’t know then, but understand now, is that anxiety after loss is perfectly natural. Many parents, whether they are grieving a miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of an older child, often become overly consumed with the fear of losing their surviving children.

And I guess it makes sense that we would feel this way, hyper aware that bad things do happen to good people, that hearts can be broken, dreams can be crushed, and that holding a baby in our arms doesn’t necessarily mean they will be ours to keep. And although parenting is a balancing act between encouraging our children to bravely seek out what the wide world has to offer with our desire to keep them safe from harm, those of us who have lost a child know how difficult that really is.

Because with every cough and every sneeze, we are going to worry. With every bumped head or broken bone, we are going to feel as though the wind has been knocked right out of us. With every moment they disappear from view, every car ride they take without us, every door they go through and leave us behind,  we will always have those feelings of worry and panic, fighting against our natural instinct to want to wrap our arms around them and keep them safe forever.

I guess it’s a normal reaction for all parents, both those who have lost a child and those who have not, but the ability to control those fears and rationalise those thoughts is infinitely harder in a life after loss.

I read a quote last week sitting in the hospital, stroking Megan’s head and watching her chest rise and fall in just the same way I did when she was tiny, and it simply said, “All the worry in the world doesn’t prevent death; it prevents life.”

And I thought back to each of my pregnancies when I had made myself physically ill with worry, when I had lay awake for 8 months solid convincing myself that my babies would not make it home; when I refused to leave their incubators in neonatal and cried noisy tears as their machines whirred all around me, when I spent night after night watching them sleeping peacefully beside me, and I realised that if the worst was going to happen it would have happened irrespectively.

The first time they slept away from home, or stayed their first day at nursery; the first time they started school, took class trips, attended birthday parties without me; the first time Lewis played out in the garden alone, rode his bike to the end of the rode and back, the first time he stayed out after dark; the truth is, all of the worry in the world is not going to prevent something bad happening. And allowing those fears to eat away at me is simply going to impact on our happiness, on our enjoyment as a family, and on our determination to live every single day of our lives carrying Joseph and his memory forward.

And so whilst it may be inevitable that I will find myself on this path from time to time, with every bump in the road, I’ll just find a way to keep going. I’ll take it day by day, minute by minute, until one day soon, in no time at all, I will finally breathe again.

And that’s okay.

 

 

 

 

 

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62 Comments

  1. October 1, 2018 / 8:30 pm

    Your words were spot on! The sands stickers that are on our hospital notes when pregnant should be on our children’s red book. Loss does not define us but it changes us!
    Sending you warm hugs!

  2. October 1, 2018 / 11:24 pm

    This puts so much into perspective for me. You are doing a great job and you and your family will be ok.

  3. Crystal
    October 2, 2018 / 2:26 am

    It can be hard not to let grief overwhelm us, or even worse overwhelm our other children. Being a mom can be a tough job no matter what the road.

  4. Helena R
    October 2, 2018 / 4:13 am

    This post really resonated with me, the part where you say “with every bump in the road, I’ll just find a way to keep going. I’ll take it day by day, minute by minute, until one day soon, in no time at all, I will finally breathe again.” So true, my dad passed away when I was a teen and I felt the same.

  5. October 2, 2018 / 6:27 am

    You’re doing a fantastic job, there’s no doubt about that at all!

  6. Cathy mini
    October 2, 2018 / 6:45 am

    You are so great and all the things you’re doing for them are treasure and they know how much you love them .keep it up you have a great loving family.

  7. October 2, 2018 / 8:50 am

    Grief really can eat you up can’t it but your doing so well Laura . Big hugs x

  8. October 2, 2018 / 11:04 am

    You are doing a great job Laura, acknowledging your fear and its impact is already a great and huge step.

  9. October 2, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    You are doing an amazing job. Thanks for sharing this it was encouraging.

  10. October 2, 2018 / 2:59 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I couldn’t even begin to imagine losing a loved one. I love your advice and outlook on taking it day by day, step by step. Sending good vibes to you!

  11. October 2, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    Grief and fear are such powerful things. Some days, you simply have to give in and that’s totally okay. It sounds to me like you are doing a wonderful job keeping things in perspective and not letting them completely run your life.

  12. October 2, 2018 / 3:24 pm

    This post is so heartfelt and full of emotion, yet resonates hope and positivity. I think you are doing an incredible job with your family, even going through such a difficult time.

  13. October 2, 2018 / 3:26 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. But I can tell that you are a very strong woman. I just lost my mom in July and I agree with you, don’t let your loss impact your happiness.

  14. October 2, 2018 / 3:41 pm

    Bless you. I can imagine how hard it is to parent after a loss. You just never get over things like that.

  15. October 2, 2018 / 3:50 pm

    I love how honest this post is. I can see where it would be hard to not worry about everything with the family members who are still alive. I definitely agree that that mentality prevents us from living. It can be hard and I just love how you write this as you are right now.

  16. Angela Wilcox
    October 2, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    Thank you for this post. It really resonated with me.

  17. Melissa
    October 2, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    So, so true!! After losing my first baby, I struggled with worry early in my next pregnancy. It did keep me from enjoying it at first until I decided to give the worry to God.

  18. October 2, 2018 / 6:07 pm

    This is so well written, and what you are feeling is only normal for a mother wanting to protect her little people. To be open about it will make others feel normal for having these worries too so I think it is so good that you do.

  19. October 2, 2018 / 6:59 pm

    You are so strong! This is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

  20. October 2, 2018 / 7:02 pm

    Just remember you are never alone. So many others have endured this; you are strong and amazing!

  21. Monidipa Dutta
    October 2, 2018 / 7:18 pm

    You are doing a great job my dear and indeed you are strong enough. Kudos. <3

  22. October 2, 2018 / 7:43 pm

    Oh Laura. Whilst I won’t pretend to understand how you must feel, I can appreciate your words.

    After my fiancé passed suddenly, I developed an absolutely fear of it happening again every time anyone close to me became poorly with so much as a cold (he died of a virus that was masked as the flu).

    I’m not sure it’ll ever fully disappear but I am reminding myself that life is for living too. Much love xx

  23. Jana
    October 2, 2018 / 8:11 pm

    Wow, what a well written post full of emotion and truth. Being a mom is tough, and I can only imagine what you were going through after experiencing the loss of your child. Just know that strength lies within you.

  24. October 2, 2018 / 8:12 pm

    It must just be so incredibly tough, particularly when you have bumps in the road as you just have. I don’t think it is something you can ever really ‘get over’ and yet you have to continue to parent your other children. It is bound to effect the way you parent or the way you just are and taking things one day at a time certainly is ok.

  25. October 2, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    I had a miscarriage last year and am expecting my rainbow baby now. Your words really resonate with me! I’ve also been consumed with worry about my toddler and the baby that is coming, counting kicks and praying. You’re such an inspiration! Thank you for this post, stay strong.

  26. October 2, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    Whilst I can’t directly relate as I haven’t experienced the heartbreaking loss you have, I have a poorly child and I am nodding away to your post re. the fear of losing a child. I can’t even imagine how many times magnified that fear would be after losing a child. You have amazing strength.

  27. October 2, 2018 / 10:08 pm

    I think you’re doing an amazing job, both as a mum and as the voice of a parent living after the loss of a child. I agree that as parents we worry about all our children do and experience but I can’t imagine how much worst it must be after the loss of a child xxx

  28. October 3, 2018 / 12:23 am

    Oh Laura, how I can relate. Not with the loss of a child, but there are some events that have happened to me and when I find myself in a similar situation, I have to catch myself. Intellectually I know my fear shouldn’t apply to the present, but my heart sure says otherwise. Big hugs, my friend. xx

  29. October 3, 2018 / 1:26 am

    I’m sorry to hear about that. My friend’s child died last month and I can feel how sad she is. I guess only time can heal those wounds. I’m praying for you.

  30. October 3, 2018 / 3:19 am

    I am sorry to hear of your loss. From reading your story, I would say that you are a very strong mum. I am not a mum yet, but losing two loved ones in a short period of time, I can somehow relate to what is going on in your life. Time heals all wounds but the memories will linger. Keep on being strong and my prayers goes out to you and your family.

  31. October 3, 2018 / 3:19 am

    Grief is one of the hardest things ever and those wounds take time to heal. I think you’re doing great and thanks for sharing!

  32. October 3, 2018 / 4:43 am

    I can not even begin to imagine your loss or even living with your loss daily, you’re inspirational

  33. October 3, 2018 / 6:39 am

    Im so sorry for your loss. Its very admirable how you’re coping with it. Big hugs.

  34. October 3, 2018 / 6:50 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautifully written piece. Your children are beautiful and you’re doing an amazing job, I’m sure Joseph would be proud

  35. October 3, 2018 / 7:36 am

    You are right, it’s ok not to be ok. You are a fighter and an amazing mum. Anxiety after loss is perfectly natural x

  36. October 3, 2018 / 9:54 am

    Sending huge hugs lovely. I can only imagine the pain that you have suffered and continue to do so. I am so sorry for your loss xx

  37. October 3, 2018 / 10:22 am

    A gulp in my throat, but good to hear your dealing s with grief and how you have worked through. Just amazing x

  38. October 3, 2018 / 10:57 am

    Your doing a fantastic job and all your little people will grow up with love around them no matter where they are. Thanks for talking about it and given comfort to others

  39. October 3, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    And it is okay! It is perfectly natural to have these moments, especially when your kids are sick. I have not lost a child but I have had similar fears that griped me so bad I fell into a deep depression over the thought of something bad happening to one of my kids and being powerless to stop it. It’s not the same as losing a child and feeling those feelings though and I admire you so much for writing about this and being so brave and strong to work towards a better life for you and for your surviving children!

  40. October 3, 2018 / 12:43 pm

    Your words are spot on and beautifully written, as usual. I haven’t lost a child, but I have lost several babies through early miscarriages. It’s certainly not the same, but I can relate to the worry during pregnancy. Luke, my first, was fine all the way through…then afterwards I had so many miscarriages that when I was pregnant with Oscar, I was crying and worrying 24/7 all the way up until about 36 weeks. I love your words, they’re so comforting to other’s who have experienced or may be experiencing baby loss.

  41. October 3, 2018 / 2:51 pm

    My dearest friend recently lost her husband, who left her alone with 2 kids. She was devastated at first but she’s one of the most resilient persona in the world and she and her husband thought the kids the meaning of happiness (as much as you can learn when you are 2 and 6). Now she’s fighting everyday to be happy again at the fullest and she believes so hard in happiness that I’m sure she will. I’ll let her read your story and I’m more than sure you’ll have a new faithful reader

  42. October 3, 2018 / 7:18 pm

    Lovely quote to consider! I’ve not yet reached parenthood, but often hear how much parents get anxiety for their children even for the little things. I’m sorry for your loss and appreciate that you took the time to open up about this subject.

  43. October 3, 2018 / 7:28 pm

    A lovely post. We very nearly lost my youngest at 8 months. I’d always been so confident in my decisions as a parent, sure that things would always be ok, but that has gone now. Like you, I try not to dwell on it and let it be part of our daily life but I think it will always be there. I’m trying to accept the change rather than resent it but that is easier said than done sometimes.

  44. October 3, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    I feel your grief my dear. I am sure God has blessed tremendously on how the kids are growing right now. I am proud of you!

  45. Marjie Mare
    October 4, 2018 / 1:37 am

    Unfortunately, a loss is an inevitable part of life. It seems you are doing a great job dealing with that loss. You have a beautiful family, keep being strong for them.

  46. Kristine Nicole Alessandra
    October 4, 2018 / 2:23 am

    This is such a very heartfelt article that I’ve read. I know how hard it is for you but I want you to know that you are doing an amazing job and I am sure they know how you loved them. You are such an inspiration for all of us.

  47. October 4, 2018 / 3:07 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but bless you for sharing such a heart wrenching story. My youngest sister has lost a baby (stillborn) and a friend’s son and daughter-in-law lost a little one who only lived a few months, because he couldn’t overcome a heart condition. I also remember the comment my hubby’s grandfather said years ago when one of his adult sons died after suffering complications from a serious injury. He said, with tears in his eyes, “A parent shouldn’t have to bury a child.” How true!

  48. October 4, 2018 / 3:16 am

    Sorry for your loss. It’s really heartbreaking. But to have that courage to move forward and be strong for your kids, that’s totally amazing.

  49. October 4, 2018 / 9:31 am

    Loss of a child is something no parent can get over from. And the way you lost your child wasn’t normal, so all we can do is pray for you of all the strength you need to take care of your children. It won’t be easier but time is the biggest healer.

  50. October 4, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    I am so sorry about your losses. It can definitely be hard not to let grief overcome us, the deaths of my cousins several years ago literally tour apart my entire extended family because the grief ate away at everyone differently. This is a powerful message this morning that is really touching on my feelings.

  51. October 4, 2018 / 5:20 pm

    It can be hard to deal with a loss whilst trying to keep the family afloat and deal with what they are going through too. You have coped so well

  52. October 4, 2018 / 6:30 pm

    It’s always hard when your kids get sick , it’s natural to worry that’s what all parents do . You are doing a great job and have a loving family.

  53. Whitney Kutch
    October 4, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    What a beautiful, heartfelt post. Thank you for baring your soul to us! “All the worry in the world doesn’t prevent death; it prevents life.” – that’s such a moving quote and something I won’t quickly forget.

  54. David Elliott
    October 5, 2018 / 1:00 am

    Though I cannot feel what you have been through but you are really courageous. Proud of you.

  55. October 5, 2018 / 2:06 am

    Your courage is an inspiration to everyone. Thank you for sharing your story.

  56. Elle (CleverlyChanging)
    October 5, 2018 / 11:59 am

    As a parent of a child with a chronic illness, I have to catch my thoughts. I sometimes drift into thoughts of how one day she can be gone because her illnesses are unpredictable. Thank you for your encouraging words, and I wish you and your family peace and comfort.

  57. October 5, 2018 / 1:47 pm

    Losing a loved one is one of the most heartbreaking and shocking experiences that we could have. I’m sorry for you loss. It’s good to know that you’re handing this situation with all your might. What a very inspirational read. Thanks for sharing your story.

  58. Christina Pilat
    October 5, 2018 / 3:33 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Even though I just read it, it’s still so hard for me to fully comprehend what you must have gone through and still be going through. I’ve never had a child but my sister had my nephew and as an aunt idk know how I’d deal with a loss like that. I can’t ecen think about it.

  59. Elizabeth O
    October 6, 2018 / 10:03 am

    It was brave to share your story with us. I am so very sorry for your loss and the grief you and your family must experience everyday.

  60. October 7, 2018 / 12:10 pm

    I cannot say that I understand how you feel and how you find the strength to continue fighting for your children. This post brought tears to my eyes especially now while we are trying to conceive but without a success for a while now.

  61. October 13, 2018 / 9:28 am

    Great promise and i must say those are such a lovely lovely family pics. God bless you

  62. October 26, 2018 / 10:33 am

    Me and my husband are trying for a child and struggling, like a few here I see, and that’s a bad enough feeling. The pain of not feeling ‘good enough’ even though you know it’s all a load of… is bad enough, I can’t begin to comprehend the pain of losing a child. My thoughts are with you and your family

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