**Note to the reader**This blog post is of a much more personal nature than I generally share here. I felt compelled to open up and share with you an experience that has been central in shaping my life over the last six years. My hope is that those reading it will find comfort, encouragement, and the knowledge that if you are walking a similar path to the one I have trod, you are not alone. There have been moments over the past six years that I have needed blog posts like this one. If you, like me, have come upon this post at time when your heart is broken and crying out for hope and peace, my heart goes out to yours.
Tomorrow is a day which will forever mark the “Before” and the “After” of my life. My life is divided into two sections: Before September 2, 2011 and After September 2, 2011. Six years ago—on that date—I was separated from a piece of my heart, and I have been forever changed by that.
Six years ago, on a day when the sun shone brightly upon the world, people all over went about their day-to-day lives without a thought to how someone else’s world might be turning upside down. On that day, my husband and I sat in a hospital room, surrounded by our children, holding the lifeless body of our daughter.
I, like so many others who have lived the unthinkable, am the face of child loss.
Each year, I mark September 2 as one more year gone by without my sweet little girl.
One more year of what ifs and might-have-beens.
One more year of counting the milestones that will never take place.
My daughter would officially be starting school this year. I can’t help but wonder, would she struggle to learn to read, or would it come easily for her? What would her favorite color be? Would she draw me pictures of flowers, or would it be horses?
I also wonder what sort of person I would be if I had not lost one of the things most precious in the world to me. Would I still be as naive as I once was? Would I have the same kind of gut-wrenching empathy I have now? Scars, even ugly, heartrending ones, can be beautiful when allowed to be healed by the loving touch of a compassionate God, a Father who Himself knows all too well the pain of child loss.
Statics say the exact kind of loss I have experienced is 1 out of 100. Does that make the loss any easier? In the case of my daughter’s life, her loss was 1 out of 1.
Being a statistic is never an easy fate. This calling God has placed on my life to walk this road of loss and grief is hard one—a “severe mercy” as C.S. Lewis once said.
Even six years later, though the raw emotions have settled into a quiet acceptance and the grief has given way to joy, there is still an empty spot at our dinner table. When I count my children, I always feel as thought I am missing someone…because I am.
The saying goes “time heals all wounds,” which I suppose is true in most cases. There are many trials in life that, when they have passed, you move on from and are stronger because of, and healing comes and you know you are better for having gone through them. While child loss is similar in some of those ways—you do experience a kind of healing and it can make you a stronger person—it is one trial that you never, ever “get over.”
Walking the road of a bereaved parent is a life long journey. A part of who you are is closely tied to what you have lost.
Our living children are a little piece of our hearts walking around in this world. When a parent has lost a child, a piece of our hearts is missing from this world. And no matter how old that child was at the time of loss, all bereaved parents know exactly how old our child would be now.
There is hope in child loss. There is healing and rebuilding of a life beyond the loss. But nothing is ever the same, nor would we want it to be. We can move on and continue to live, knowing we are honoring our child’s life by fully embracing our own and living it to it’s fullest.
Yet, always in the depths of our heart, we will have an empty place only our child could fill. Always in the back our our minds, we will wonder what life might have been like if they were still here.
I trust a sovereign, righteous, and loving God. I know without a doubt that He does what He deems best for His children. There is great peace in knowing that even though I wish my little girl were still alive, He has a perfect plan I can’t see or understand yet.
There is also great hope in knowing there is a place of beauty and perfection where my daughter waits for me and her daddy. She’s gone on ahead of us, but we’ll catch up soon enough.
Irrevocably, I have become the person I am because of what I have lost.
That is a part of His plan as well, and I am grateful.