Infant Loss Grief | Missing a Lifetime of Little Moments

Infant Loss Grief | Missing a Lifetime of Little Moments

Grief is such a tricky thing.  It’s always in the back of my mind, which is fine because that means that Hope, Jonah, and January are always in my mind too.  But sometimes, unexpected moments can trigger grief to come roaring back to the surface.  Those moments catch me off-guard because they usually come with no warning.  This past Saturday, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, when I saw several cute videos of a dance recital: a perfectly normal, adorable dance recital with several 3 year old girls in fluffy tutus and big bows.  Now, I have seen many videos of children dancing or performing in the years since Hope died, so why was this one special?  These little girls were from my hometown, and I knew that they were born right around the same time as Hope.  I remember crying when I saw their birth announcements, wishing that Hope could be alive like them.  So to see them all together, dancing and twirling for their proud parents, absolutely broke my heart in two.

I was hit with the reality that Hope should be with them; she should be in dance recitals now, giggling and leaping as she tries to keep up with the routine.  I should have a drawer full of bows that she would wear, and there should be tutus all over the house.  I should be video taping her first recital, wiping back tears as I watch my baby transform into a little girl.  I should be handing her flowers, telling her how proud I am of her performance.  We should be going out for ice cream to celebrate.  There are so many things that we “should” be doing.

I tried to ignore how I was feeling for a few hours, but eventually, I broke down in my husband’s arms, sobbing over the future that could not be.  There will never be a dance recital for me, and that reality hurts more than I can describe.  When you lose a baby, you lose a lifetime of little moments.  And for me, that first dance recital was one of the big moments that I lost.  I know that more of these moments are coming: first day of school, first loose tooth, first time riding a bike without training wheels.  Then one day, the moments will be first dance, first car, prom, graduation, and ultimately, marriage and grandchildren.  I lost all of these when I lost Hope.  The ones that hurt the most are knowing that I will not get to plan her wedding, help pick out her dress, or cry as I give my little girl to her forever mate.  I will not get to attend the birth of her children or watch with awe as my baby girl turns into a mother.  All of these thoughts weigh so heavily on my heart.  I miss her, but I also miss what our relationship would have been.  I miss her entire life.

If you know someone who has lost a child, their grief will fade with time, but it never goes away.  And there will be times when it comes back with a vengeance, making it hard to breathe.  Remember those parents on the memorable, big days; don’t be afraid to mention the child that is missing and that should be a part of those moments.  Saying the child’s name and remembering him/her is truly the greatest gift you can give a bereaved parent.  It will lessen their load on the days when grief is threatening to crush them again.  Most of all, please don’t be surprised when their grief comes to the surface; don’t ever make a bereaved parent feel embarrassed for continuing to love and remember their child.  Do not whisper behind their backs, wondering why they haven’t “gotten over it”.  Try to put yourself in their shoes; if your own child died, would you get over it?  Or would you carry them in your heart forever?

After I cried with my husband, I was able to fall asleep.  The next morning, my heart felt lighter and the storm of grief had faded again.  Sometimes, I just need to express how I’m feeling and grieve the moment that I lost.  If you are a bereaved parent and also experience these random storms of grief, don’t try to push them down like I did.  Embrace them as they come, cry over what you have lost, and continue moving forward in your grief journey.  The best way to deal with grief is to face it head-on and feel the pain; I believe it is the only way to truly heal. 

 Lauren Young is a wife to Will and mom to two beautiful boys on earth (Matti and Sammy) and three precious babies in heaven (Hope, Jonah, and January).  She is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing, reading good books, cooking new recipes, and playing piano.  She lives in central Texas now but was born and raised in Georgia.  She and her husband are now in the adoption process and can't wait to see what God has in store for their family. 

 

Catherine Hartel

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