You’ve heard a lot about what it’s like when it happens. It’s devastating, it’s painful and it’s life changing. You’ve also heard about what it’s like when people find the strength to move on. But do you know what life after losing a child is really like?
Life after losing a child is different; completely, utterly and profoundly. And it never ever goes back to what it was before you lost the child. Some people find themselves in a deep, dark tunnel that they never quite see the light at the end of. Others are more fortunate to move on.
But even though you move on, your life will never be the same. No amount of moving on can erase or change the fact that you’ve lost a part of yourself, your heart and your soul.
You will find the strength to get back on your feet and carry on with your life but deep inside, you will feel conflicted. Your heart and mind will often be at odds with each other.
Life after losing a child leaves you questioning everything. It’s as if every single thing that you knew and believed about life was taken away and shaken up, leaving you with no choice but to start from scratch again.
On some days you make peace with the fact that some questions just have no answers and on other days you question the very core of your existence. You lose faith in faith and wonder if you were born on a blighted star.
Losing a child leaves you wounded and scarred but you try so hard to find the strength to wipe away your tears and fight away your fears. At some point you search for reasons to dispel the clouds of doom and allow sunlight into your life again.
You want to allow the rays of the sun to illuminate your otherwise dark and dismal life.
But suddenly, something that reminds you of your child appears and hurls you back into that abyss, where you feel suffocated by the air of melancholy that surrounds you. You feel helpless.
Losing a child leaves you teetering between starting afresh and falling into an existential crisis.
Losing a child makes you love differently. You hold back a part of yourself, even to your other children, because you are afraid. You don’t want to give all of you to end up having your heart ripped apart.
But while a part of you holds back, another part of you holds on tighter to what you have because you are afraid. The universe had taken your child into its hungry, ruthless maw, and you fear that it will take more from you.
You want to treasure what you have more. You want to count your blessings but when you do, a tiny voice at the back of your head reminds you that life is transient, inconsistent and unpredictable.
Holding on tight paves the way to hurt harder. You feel torn apart between protecting your heart and living your life.
Losing a child makes you reclusive. You feel angry at the world and sometimes you just want to be alone. You are tired of explaining what happened and you have had enough of listening to everyone’s advice, let alone opinions. At some point you make a decision not to talk about it anymore.
Yet you stare blankly when someone asks you how many children you have because you don’t know how to answer that question. You don’t want to share your story but you feel you’re doing injustice to the child you lost by pretending that he never happened.
Losing a child makes you want to get it all right with your other children. You want to make sure that they don’t bear the brunt of the loss. You try to provide for them in ways that you never previously did. You continue planning for their future to ensure that they make the most of their lives because life is so fragile yet so precious.
Losing a child makes you want to ensure that you give your other children the best that life has to offer.
But at some point you wonder what’s the point in planning when sometimes we plan a trip to one place but something takes us to another. You stop looking ahead and you start to embrace the moment more – carpe diem.
Losing a child teaches you in the hardest, most unimaginable way, the importance of slowing down. It reminds you to marvel at the beauty in simplicity.
If you looked the beauty of the sunset, and knew it was to be the last sunset you would ever see, would it make you want to stay lost in that moment a little longer? Would it change the way you looked at it?
So that’s what life is like after losing a child. Some days will be ok, some days will be better and some days will be excruciatingly painful. Every year on your child’s birthday, or death day, or both, a part of your heart, or all of it will break, and the wound will feel raw again. But you pick yourself up and learn to live with the pain.
There will always be something or the other that triggers memories of the child you lost and some memories will make you weep a little harder than others. Some days you will be strong and some days you will be a heap of emotional mush, and that’s ok.
I guess the hardest part will be those nights when you just can’t sleep, and at three am, you look out of the window and search desperately for your child’s face in every star that twinkles against the black of the night.
A part of you will always remain broken.
You pray fervently and vehemently for your child to come back even though you know it’s just not possible. And it dawns on you that although you have all the support in the world, losing your child and moving on is a personal journey. There are parts of it that you have to traverse on your own. And someday, you will learn how to get by. It doesn’t matter how long you take because there is no timeline for healing.
There comes a time when you do get better and you seem better but a part of you remains broken. Forever. And you have a right to remain broken. No one should force you to mend that one broken piece of you for that scar honours your child.
Losing a child makes you understand that grief doesn’t have a face but it has a place of its own.
You will learn to be happy and positive but there will be things that hurt and continue to hurt. Sometimes the best medicine for the heart is to allow it to hurt when it has to hurt. And you find peace in knowing that grief and happiness have their own places in your heart. They can co-exist.
Losing a child is something that you don’t get over. You get through it. Sometimes it gets better and sometimes it just feels different.
And lastly, losing a child means that every time the wind caresses your face, every time you see a rainbow, every time you see the sun’s rays, or just where there is beauty, you will see or at the very least, feel your child smiling back at you.