I had the honor of attending a memorial Mass today. The precious firstborn son of a sweet couple in our Parish was laid to rest. His birth was greatly anticipated. His death was not. Our Parish was full of loving friends and family. Tears flowed freely as his tiny little casket was wheeled into the Church. There should never, ever, be a need for a casket so small. Death is hard enough, but the death of an innocent child is almost too much for anyone to bear. And the tiny casket is like a dagger to all our hearts. As I stood there, my hands shook and my chest started to hurt like hell. The lump in my throat came on quickly, and so I closed my eyes, dropped to my knees and prayed. Lord have mercy on them. Lord have mercy.
Stricken with grief, the mother and grandmother could barely walk. I wanted to run to them and just grab both women in my arms and hug them tightly. I wanted to tell them it would be ok.
I wanted to say, just keep breathing. I know it is hard, but just breathe. Your life is full of darkness and confusion and despair. Everything is upside down. You want to just rewind and go back and fix that one thing which would make everything different, that would give you a healthy little baby in your arms. But you can’t. So just breathe. Beg God for His mercy and breath.
You are not alone. Other brave women have walked this path before you. We are here for you. The days and months to come will be very hard. You will wonder if you are going crazy, if you will ever live a normal life, if you will survive all this sadness. You will. Give yourself permission to feel sad. You aren’t crazy, you are in deep grief. It takes a long time, but it will get better. I used to look in the mirror every morning and wonder if the girl I used to be would stare back at me. I asked God to see her again. But she died with my baby. Instead, I soon saw a different and better woman in that mirror. A woman full of compassion and love. A broken woman who had suffered and survived. A woman who eventually found God’s peace. You will see these same things, but it takes time.
Keep talking to your husband. He will heal far faster than you. Love him through it. Give each other space and support. Men and women are different and handle grief differently. Be gentle with each other and don’t judge differences.
Remember your baby. Mark his anniversary months and years with times to grieve and remember. Someday it may feel like others have forgotten him, but they haven’t. In the beginning, let those supporting you know you want to remember him on special days. As time passes, do something for others on his special days. Your baby is not finished working for God’s kingdom. He will do it through you. Allow him to do so.
Time is your friend. Take things slowly, one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Sometimes, the grief will come when you least expect it. That’s ok. You are moving forward ~ one breath at a time.
In Memory of Daniel Gregory, Lucy Rose, Anastasia Rose, Vivian, Gabriel, Brendan, McKayla, Mara, Emerson, Therese Joy and all the precious babies who have left their mother’s arms too soon.