Every time I turn away from someone's grief I add to its power. Turning away fuels isolation and stigma, two things grief does not need more of.
I work at not turning away from grief, whether that's someone else's or my own. I practice getting comfortable with this uncomfortable and unwieldy topic so that my son will see it's not about getting it right. It's about giving it space to be.
I invite myself to see grief, to listen to it, to invite it and the people it touches into my arms, heart and conversations. I ask myself to own my grief as I own my love.
At the exact moment when I feel myself shrink back, pull back or turn away, that's the exact moment I pause, acknowledge and listen to whatever comes next.
A Letter to my Son
Out of five, you were the one to survive.
It's a truth and not a secret, yet I am tempted to let it shame me, to spare you and the world this uncomfortable dialogue.
I want to tell you about these siblings you will never meet so that you never take that heartbeat for granted, that sweet breath for granted, and so that you know you are here for a reason.
We are all here for a reason.
I held them the same as you, in the same space as you, with love and gratitude and patience.
I let them go reluctantly, achingly and painfully, carving out a space in my heart for each one of them to rest.
It is love, not time that runs its fingers over their loss with deep gratitude for the brief time I was honored to be their mother.
I share my love and loss with you so you will learn to share your love and loss and so you won't turn away when others share theirs.
We turn away because we don't know what to say, but the salve is not in the words.
It's in the seeing, the staying, the acknowledging, the not turning away.
There is no loss of life that does not ripple through us all. Even when we are not touched directly it pulls on the thread of mankind which we are all connected through.
Remember that my love.
This life will weigh you down and it will lift you up, but it delivered you to me and it will deliver your heart to you over and over if you let it.
It will not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.