Battling Grief After the Loss of a Child

Mother grieving after the death of a childFrom my life’s experience, I believe that there is depression and that there is grief. While you certainly can have both at the same time, the two are not interchangeable. I am grieving.

For many years, I struggled with depression and on many occasions, found myself no longer having the will to live. At two distinct points in my life, those emotions were so strong that I attempted to end my life, thankfully to no avail.

I had lived through some of life’s greatest struggles. From difficult break-ups to being cheated on while pregnant, from sexual assaults to nasty custody battles, I had experienced heartache, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion that challenged my very existence.

It wasn’t until the birth of my daughters that I realized that life was so much bigger than me and my day-to-day problems. I understood that my existence here on earth was so much larger than the hardships I faced. I fought to heal myself though a combination of counseling services, medications, and the realization that my success rate for making it through difficult days was 100 percent. While depression and anxiety still sneak up on me from time to time, as they do to everyone, I am much better equipped with the tools, resources, and mindset to find the good in my life and to move forward in a positive, productive way.

But more recently, I was introduced to the most raw form of grief–the loss of a child– and its presence has shaken me to the core. I am not depressed. I am heartbroken and emotionally devastated.

Even just the simple act of crying has changed for me. In the past, my mind would fill with negative thoughts and anxiousness and subsequently, I would begin to cry as I felt sorry for myself and whatever was happening in my life. With my grief, even that process is different. Sometimes I will be laying in bed and out of nowhere, my stomach will just start convulsing and not long after, the tears come flowing–as if the hurt was literally the result of a physical heartache or from pain originating at my very core. Other times my mind can be blank, in an attempt to disassociate from reality, and yet the tears start coming a mile a minute and will not stop.

I thought back about all the times I experienced depression and tried to recall how I survived them, but then realized, this is inherently different. Your heart may be broken when you end a relationship. It is natural to feel anxiety and fear about custody issues and your changing family dynamics. When you’ve been traumatized, things become more difficult, but even still, there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” that reminds you that your feelings are only temporary. You will find a new partner. You will adjust to changing family dynamics. You will be able to move on.

When you experience the grief of losing a child, that hope for future relief is nonexistent. You know that no matter what else shifts in your life, you cannot regain what you lost. You understand that this type of loss is not temporary, but rather, your grief will reside within you for a lifetime. Each missed milestone will be a constant reminder of what could have been.

You can overcome depression, or at least control it with right combination of treatment, but you cannot overcome the grief of losing a child. Instead, you just have to learn to live with it–and that notion terrifies me beyond belief. This time around, there is no hope that “time will heal.” Unlike the comforting words of the phrase “this too shall pass,” a parent’s grief will never subside and it is absolutely frightening to think that the pain I feel will never go away.

I keep being reminded that the grief will continue to shift, to metamorphosize over time. I hope with all my heart that the philosophy that grief tends to transition over time is true because for now, no amount of treatment can help me regain what I have lost. I am not depressed, but rather I am mourning–and to me, those are two very different processes. I have zero choices about how to handle this, nor will I ever be able to gain control over what happened. I will never be able to change the circumstances. He is gone.

The day my son was born, my heart tripled in size. The day he died, he took a third of it to heaven with him. Nothing I do here can fix that. For the time being, I just have to live one day at a time and hope that someday, I can find the strength to channel my grief into something positive.

#Grief #Lossofchild #Death #Grieving #Trisomy18 #EdwardsSyndrome

2 Comments on “Battling Grief After the Loss of a Child

  1. I lost my son to T18 5 months ago. Your post is spot on. It is exactly how I feel. Grief is differen than depresison, though you can be experiencing both at the same time. Grief is like waves, carshing over you, over and over again. There are moments of relief for me, but it is heavy. Nothing can fix or return your dead child to you. Yes, I’ve heard that grief will morph over time, but for now I don’t want it to. Right now it’s a little bit comforting knowing that I’m grieving.

    • Thank you so much for reaching out, Dawn. It means a lot to know that I am not alone in this and that there are people out there that truly understand. I am so sorry you and your family had a similar experience, though—it is awful and no one should have to go through it. I really liked what you said about grief being like “waves crashing over you, over and over again.” There is so much truth to that. I feel like one moment I am fine and the next, I am just flooded by emotions. I completely understand what you mean about being comforted by the grief. To the outside world, that might not make sense but to us, it feels like the limited memories and the grief are all we have left. When looking at it that way, I, too, am grateful for my grief and will try to embrace it more.

What are your thoughts?

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