Following up on not being unique, I did a little research. Amazingly (sad!), as of 2017, 19%, which is almost 1 of every 5 parents, bury a child! These numbers were surprising, yet not! I reside in that club and am part of that percentage. I have joined many I already knew were in the club, though not by choice or nomination. This club does not invite you in and I didn’t get to decline my membership. And, I can never leave the club.
There are four main reasons people die: old age; an accident; illness; and intentional, either self-inflicted or at the hands of another human. I am going to put infant death, stillbirth or under SIDS, as illness. Miscarriage is another form, but I never considered myself part of the club for that, although it most definitely is a loss.
We all handled this membership differently and that is ok. Most initiations come with congratulations. This membership comes with condolences . What I am truly amazed at is the compassion of those already in the club prior to my membership! This is where I realize we are all alike more than we are different. Those outside try to empathize with you and hope they never truly know what it is like. Those of us in the club hope you never have to find out as well. The roller coaster ride you jump on at membership has tried to be explained through books, but every single situation is different. You cannot know what to expect, other than a rocky road. Moments of complete breakdowns with no warning. Triggers you didn’t even think about releasing a flood of emotions. Songs that all of a sudden, make perfect sense. No guidelines, no rules, no easy path. Period.
I still have a daughter and now I have two grandchildren. They are my driving force going forward. My husband and I deal differently but both seem to be trudging along with an appearance of strength. We know we have no choice and life goes on. This does not mean we will ever stop missing, thinking about, and loving our son. Yes, ‘loving’ is present tense! Death does not change the love a parent has for a child. Ever.
I know I am different than I was just over a year ago. I know my life going forward will not be the original image I had in my head when I brought my children into this world. I know my plans have changed along with my priorities. What I am hoping for in my future is that I make my son proud as his parent and my actions going forward are out of love for him and his sister. I hope my words bring comfort and understanding to those struggling with the “why” and “how” of life going forward.
I want peace and that comes from knowing we are more alike than we are different. There is a peace in knowing I am not alone, but that comes with sadness as well. Please be kind to strangers and understand the battles we face everyday trying to replan our path from its original blueprint takes time and compassion. It doesn’t matter if the loss was that of a child, a parent, a job, or any other hope we had for our future that had an unexpected change. It might not be the “Parent who lost a child” club but we are part of the “human race” club. Compassion and understanding required for all. We are more alike than we are different.