When I began sharing our story of child loss, I had a dream. A vision that one day I would help other grieving parents share their stories. That I would help provide a platform, and this blog would become more than just my voice.
It is only fitting that my first guest post be featured on October 15th, the day we recognize and remember all children gone too soon. Please help me welcome Laura.
In my more naïve and younger days, if someone would have asked me for examples of survival, I would have talked in length about people overcoming disease, cancer patients being in remission, soldiers returning home from war, or an anxiety prone student passing an impossible midterm exam. All of these scenarios focus on human beings beating the odds. Taking the proverbial bull by its horns. Or literally, if surviving the running of the bulls, in Pamplona, Spain.
I wouldn’t have once said survival is about living life. Continuing to get up every morning and stay open to the possibility of finding reasons to smile. After my son died, I was faced with figuring out how to continue to live life. I had to ask myself, how will I choose to survive? How will I choose to live?
When a loved one dies, simply put, we are left behind. We feel different (completely different), but from a superficial standpoint, we remain the same. When I walk through a grocery store, or drop off something at the post office, I don’t get pitying stares. I suppose I don’t give off a my-son-died “vibe”. Although on particularly tough days, I probably don’t look the friendliest.
From the very beginning, my husband and I were handling our grief a little bit different. I was practicing how to hold a coffee cup without dropping it, and he was determined to replace all of the bark in our backyard. With the encouragement of other family members to get out of the house, I followed his lead. The day after my son died, I went to the hardware store.
There I was. Standing in the middle of a hardware store, in my pajama pants, sporting some pretty impressive puffy eyes and watching people “living” around me. At first I was in disbelief. How could these people be walking around like the world hadn’t just stopped?
I’m pretty sure I stood in the same spot for several minutes before I realized I should probably take a step. A side shuffle. Something.
It felt like I was wearing sandbags for shoes, but I managed to take those steps. Through the hardware store, back home. It was in these first few days that I realized, if I was going to continue living, life would require me to continue taking these steps.
Taking these steps is surviving. Sometimes taking steps is the best we can do. Sometimes, when you least expect it, these steps lead to bigger steps, lead to small leaps, lead to smiles, lead to moments of joy again.
I am living my life without my oldest son. I am living my life as a member of one of the strongest group of survivors I’ve ever known. I have become my best example of survival.
Laura is a mom to two beautiful rainbow babies: Bree, 3.5 years old, and Matthew, 2 years old. Their older brother, Chase, passed away in June of 2013, at six months of age. She blogs at JugglingRainbows.com, where she writes about the challenges and humor in raising her rainbows, while continuing to navigate child loss. In her honesty, she hopes to help moms realize that we’re not just good enough, we’re great enough.
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