When Did Grief Become All About Searching for Rainbows and Butterflies?


After my son died, I began to search for child loss blogs to read. Shattered beyond repair, I needed to know I wasn’t alone in the overwhelming things I thought and felt.

Everything I found was related to miscarriage and baby loss. While it was nice to know I wasn’t alone, the words didn’t necessarily resonate for me. My son was 7-years old.

The other thing I noticed was an abundance of posts written for people trying to support a griever. Great information, but not what I was searching for. I also found posts written from the other side of grief. While they gave me hope I could survive, they did nothing to validate the hell I was living. I grew to hate those posts.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… surviving child loss is not all sunshine, hearts, and rainbows. You don’t simply see hope in everything that exists and search for the beauty.

My fog was so thick I didn’t have the capacity to be thankful or stop and smell the roses. Looking for the silver lining just made me want to throat punch someone. I had no interest in forgiving people their wrongs and making amends with people in my life. There wasn’t even a desire to hug those I loved tighter.

Yep, I said it! Loss has never given me greater appreciation for life. Just one more thing to add to my guilt… like I needed another.

I felt like a bad person. Surely I wasn’t the only one feeling this way?!

The phrase “This is going to sound bad” became part of my vocabulary. Everyone around me shook their head. Great, but I was still alone in how I felt.

So, I wrote it. I began to share it. You told me I wasn’t alone. I don’t want others to feel alone like I did. We need more people willing to talk about the uncomfortable, ugly side of grief.

I don’t share for pity, to one up someone else’s hardship, or because I’m a desperately grieving mother. I share to give an authentic voice to child loss… at all ages. To connect with others out there walking this path alone. To validate the complexities of life after loss.

We were forced into this club. Let’s at least help each other survive it.


26 Comments on “When Did Grief Become All About Searching for Rainbows and Butterflies?”

  1. Wow. I was ashamed to say these things. I thought there was something wrong with me (other than the fact that my child was dead). Your blog is one of the few that I actually returned too. I felt like an outsider when I went to miscarriages or infant loss blogs. The ones that told me that I would survive and find joy again frankly pissed me off. Didn’t they understand that was my fear?

    1. EXACTLY!! I felt the same way. I am always terrified of finding joy and not having that sad undertone…or feeling like I have forgotten to think of him or include him. My hope is I never do that. I just want to learn how to continue living and remembering my child. As for the shame…exactly how I have always felt. Then it hit me, if I am feeling this way someone else has to be too! We aren’t doing any justice to child loss awareness by talking about everything through rose colored glasses. It’s just not the reality of it. I always thought there was something wrong with me. But in all reality, there is no shame in grief! We feel what we feel. Hugs!!

  2. Yes to this! It’s OK That You’re Not OK does a really good job of explaining how broken and afraid our culture is of ugly, unadulterated grief and how that leads many bereaved people to underplay the torrential pain of their loss, or qualify it with some version of “but don’t worry, I still have hope!” Anyways, here’s a mini-review of that book: https://ltop.blog/2018/03/14/its-ok-that-youre-not-ok-by-megan-devine/ It’s helped empower me to speak up and try to tell it like it is…

    1. I LOVE your stuff. You are doing exactly what we need out there…telling it like it is. Ugly and all. I believe it really forms deeper connections for those of us that are experiencing it. Loss is such a lonely thing. We all need to support each other and eventually the rest of the world will start to get it.

  3. I couldn’t have read this at a better time… it was like you verbalized the exact feelings i have. And throat punch is one of my much used terms in dealing with others that have NO clue what we go through on a daily basis. I’ve never been an angry or impatient person but before I wasn’t missing my daughter Skylar…or trying to handle the traumatic instance in which she was taken…at hands of those who chose to drive impaired at the same time my daughter was on her way home. I tend to speak my mind openly when it comes to hearing of others that have put lives in danger…i get angry because those responsible will be able to go on and have families.. get married… go to college.. while my daughter doesn’t. Nope, it’s not at all butterflies and rainbows…it for lack of a better word.. sucks. Hugs and love to you and all the other moms forced to join this club. #flyhighsky

    1. It does suck!! That is a word I like to use for it all, but so many people get offended by that word. Still working on the not caring what other people think and speaking my mind part (I admire those that can). 😉

  4. I have a hard time writing how I feel but I see others feel the same way. You are an amazing person Emily. It’s definatley not rainbows and butterflies. It does suck

  5. My daughter died when she was 6 weeks old. My youngest son died at 26, just 4 months ago.
    The grief and the grieving are very different. After Jennifer, I bit my tongue and didn’t want to upset others. Having learned the hard way, I tell it like it is since Jeff died. Your child dying SUCKS and I will tell you how I really feel when asked

    1. Good for you! I so admire anyone that can speak their mind. It’s important for our grieving process to make people understand it’s OK that we aren’t OK. How could we be ever again? Hugs!

  6. It is so very true! I was finding the baby loss blogs you mention and I was thinking that these mothers were grieving the idea of motherhood, not a real, living child that you used to talk and braid her hair and hug…. A real person who had her own grins and favorite phrases and bad habits…… And this made me feel worse because I was feeling like a bad person.
    And also listening to other parents planning the future….. Saying stories about some daily incident of their kids… Kids of my daughter’s age, who were in the same classroom until a couple of days ago….
    I do not have other kids. She was my one and only. So I do not feel guilty or fear losing an other child . I have already lost the future. Any “normal” life, a parent is entitled to expect. Graduations, first dance, achievements, relationships, marriage, grandchildren …… everything. I knew that life was unfair, but this ….. So yes, no roses and rainbows, loving life or finding joy or even being a better person……. My world is painted black ( I used to be an artist) , and has space of only the darkest of greys! Thank you again, for giving me a place to be the self I am after my Irinna died!

    1. I too felt like loss made me a bad person. In reality, I finally began to put myself first and take care of my needs…what used to feel selfish before. I just care very little about how my actions and reactions impact others (bad…maybe). The pain of the what ifs never go away. Seeing children your child’s age or those they knew and were in class together continue on is hard. I understand why your world is painted black. Hugs!

  7. Oh my goodness yes, I’m so tired of trying to make the loss of my daughter into making a difference that I sometimes allow the falseness of that statement hide what I’m truly feeling. Yes I’m trying to raise awareness, yes I’m sharing her story and yes I have adopted a new son but none of them actually take away from the fact that my whole bring craves for my daughter.

    I don’t want to say I’m sorry that my tears still fall 9 years old. I don’t want to pretend I’m ok when I can never be fully ok again again I mean how could I be.

    1. I understand that statement. When we share our stories there is this false sense of “they must have it all figured out…they must be OK now”. We will never be OK. Sharing the ugly side of child loss to balance the hope side is all I have found to compensate for that falseness. Hugs to you!! And thank you for sharing your story and raising awareness…and dealing with the challenges that go along with it. Our words and stories make a difference.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. You are very brave for doing so. It is comforting to read stories I relate to. I lost my daughter when she was 5 yrs old. I am lost, lonely, angry, jellous, and exhausted alot of days. I don’t feel fun to be around. Joy.. what is that? Our youngest daughter is what keeps my husband and I going. She is 4 yrs old now and misses her older sister. She is grieving and that is heartbreaking to watch her go through that. This sucks!

    1. This does suck!! My daughters are what keep my husband and I going as well. My oldest misses her brother (they were best friends). My youngest won’t remember him (she was 6-months old when it happened). That makes me incredibly sad. It is such unfair circumstances are forced to live with. Hugs!

  9. I agree with everything all of you have written! It does suck. I learned that life is short and anything can happen at anytime. Looking on the brighter side means nothing to me. My daughter will be gone 7 years soon and I am not happy all the time or fun to be with either. There is a huge part of me missing and I am ok with that. When I am down or grieving that is when I feel the closest to my daughter. I too looked for every website, fb page and book to be able to relate to others.

    1. It really can happen at anytime, to anyone! Like you, I will always feel closest to my son when I am down and grieving. It seems so strange, but it is so true. Hugs!

    2. Thank goodness someone doesn’t want me to be a better person because my son died that there has to be a greater good. because there isnt my son died and its the worst feeling in the world. I am bitter and resentful and I live in a world of could haves and would haves. I do know i will feel better and this feeling will lessen as i grieve but i cant bear the hope stories. I read stories so i know other people are grieving, as bad as it sounds it does help to know your not the only 1. thank you for being honest

      1. I believe honesty is so important in grief. People need to know they aren’t alone and what they are thinking/feeling isn’t crazy. This is your own journey so you get to choose how you do it. Hugs to you!

  10. Great point! We really do need to support each other and help all parents who lose a child no matter what the age of the child. We have 2 older boys and we lost our baby girl 3 months ago at 13 days old. The problem I have found at this point (being 3 months out), is that my support system of friends and some family have gone on with their lives and you are left to try and figure out who you are again…alone. Makes a person feel isolated. Trying to be strong for everyone in your life is hard enough. Support is very important!
    I think losing a child of any age is so hard. I have done a lot of reading and it seems parents who have a lost a baby, child, teen, or adult child have such a hard time. It is because of my older children that I see what I’m missing out on. I see who they are becoming and it’s not fair that I will never experience that with the child I lost. She was a part of our family. A missing piece. And I think dealing with your other children grieving is difficult too. My oldest son had to grieve. Hard enough when you don’t understand your own grief. Trying to explain to a 9 year old what happened and understand their grief is really awful. Just a horrible experience all around.

    1. Seeing your children grieve is so hard! We are in our 3rd year and I still don’t understand how to help my oldest daughter. It’s hard enough to try and figure out our own grief. As for your support system leaving, we felt that too. I get it, their lives go on and while they may remember and want to help their lives weren’t impacted the way ours were. That doesn’t change. I was lucky enough to have a couple of people that have really tried to understand and still insert themselves. However, I believe that support may be rare. Connecting online with other bereaved parents has helped me a lot! If for nothing else than to validate the things I think/feel/go through. Seek that out. I’m in the process of launching a Facebook group (literally brand new), if you’re interested in joining. I want to help provide a place for other bereaved parents to find those connections… help offer a different kind of grief support. One that focuses on connecting people that understand child loss and can support each other in how to live again. Grief and child loss is a horrible thing to have to live with. Sending lots of love as you navigate your loss. https://www.facebook.com/groups/livingafterchildloss/

  11. Thank you for your honesty. I thought I was the only one. So many other things I’d like to say but I’m too exhausted. I thanks those of you who can find the energy to type the words my heart feels. Love and prayers to everyone on this journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *