There’s a saying that goes “If a wife loses a husband, she’s a widow; if a child loses his parents, he’s an orphan. But, what do you call a parent who loses a son or daughter?” Bereaved? Devastated? Lost? Empty? These words scrape only the surface of the emotions felt by a mother when her child dies.
Thirteen years ago this past weekend, my daughter, Emily Irene, passed away from birth defects. She lived for eight hours on life support. When she was born, she was whisked away so quickly that I never got to touch or hold her. In fact, I never even saw her eyes open or heard her cry. Thinking back to this day brings tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart. All these years later as I think about celebrating her birthday, my grief is still as fresh as it was back then.
And that’s OK.
Because mothers have a lifelong attachment to their children, they always hold them close, no matter where they reside, what their age or if they are alive or dead. It’s just human nature, and most times, it is a bond that is never broken.
This past Saturday, as I entered the cemetery with my family to leave flowers at Emily’s grave, I saw another child’s funeral being performed. It wasn’t hard to spot the smaller white casket; granted it wasn’t a baby who died, but it was someone’s son or daughter. Despite the grief I experienced, I knew of the helplessness and desperation that child’s mother was feeling, and I know that in one month, one year, or even 10 years, there will be days or instances when that grief will come flooding back.
You see, the pain never goes away. Ever. The grief a mother feels when her child dies is so deep and so raw that no amount of closure, support, and even living will take away the memory someone so precious and so dear. So, don’t think that just because a certain amount of time has passed, that a mother is fine on her child’s birthday. No one should define the amount of time a person grieves a loved one. Grief has no timeline.
About the author: Mary Beth Adomaitis is a freelance writer living in Southern California with her husband and two living children. After her daughter’s death, she began writing about Death and Dying topics as a way helping others going through the tragic loss of a child. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.