Grieving the loss of a child is a grief that is unique. It is a loss that is still largely considered taboo, and when someone experiences the tragic loss of losing a child, there are very few societal norms that can guide family and friends when their loved one finds themselves in the path of an unfathomable loss. I lost my daughter a year and half ago, and I still consider my grief to be very new. But it surprises me every time I meet up with a friend or see family, and their reactions to my pain. Here, I've compiled the six things I wish people understood about grieving the loss of a child:
One: Grief and Love are the same.
Please don't think that because I am still grieving for my child even after all this time that there is something wrong me, or that I need to get over it. I grieve deeply for the loss of my child because I also love her deeply. Love never dies, therefore neither will grief.
Two: I will never get over it.
I may look like I finally got my life back together, I may have even gone on to have more children or embarked on a new career, but my child and the trauma of losing her is always one step behind. My tears may have dried, and I can probably utter my child's name without breaking apart, but please know that I will never, ever get over the fact that she is gone.
Three: Silence is deafening.
I know it must be very difficult and confusing to know what to say to someone who has lost a child. I know how uncomfortable and unfathomable it must be to you, but please know that wrongly worded sentiments are easier to forgive than your silence. My world has forever been shattered, a simple "I'm sorry" will do.
Four: My child is irreplaceable.
It doesn't matter when my loss may have occurred, whether it was an early miscarriage, or if I had the chance to spend a few moments with my child before she died. Babies are not interchangeable and any subsequent child born after is not replacement.
Five: I'll always live in a parallel universe.
No matter how much time has gone by, when an important holiday or occasion occurs, my mind is going to retreat into another universe where my child would have been present. I will calculate how old they would be and how they would look. This whole entire universe is something I hold on my own, so if you find me retreating inward during a significant day, please know that I am in that place that I share uniquely with my child and my imagination. It's just how things are always going to be.
Six: I am forever changed.
The day my child died is the same day a big part of me died too. I won't go back to being my usual innocent and carefree self again. It will take time for me to find myself, and return back home. But when I've figured out a way to put together all the broken pieces, I won't look the same. Please understand that.
If you have experienced the loss of a child or pregnancy, what do you wish other people would understand about it?
This post originally appeared on Still Standing Magazine
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.