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Black Hole of Grief

Black Hole of Grief

Two months after our daughter died, I walked into my first support group for bereaved parents.  I remember thinking that all the people there looked so normal.  I’m not sure what I expected, but at the time, I believed that having your baby die happened to “Other People”.  Not people who looked like me.  I have not idea how I expected the other bereaved parents to look, but different…

As I listened to the others tell their heart breaking stories, I remember thinking: “This is NOT going to be me.  I’m not going to be sitting in this meeting 5 years from now still crying about my dead child.”  I was going to approach this grief thing just as I had the rest of my life.  Give me a book to read.  Send me to a therapist.  Tell me the steps that I needed to take.  I’d follow every piece of advice and I would get OVER this horrible pain…quickly.

I was so naive and so judgmental back then.  At first, I would comfort myself that THEIR pain was bigger than my pain.  It was the only explanation that I could find that years after their babies’ deaths they were still devastated.  As time went on and I continued to attend the support group, I revised my original hypothesis.  No, MY pain was definitely bigger than their pain.

It took me a very long time to come to the realization that there was more than enough pain to go around and that we all had more pain and sadness than we could bear.  It was only by banding together and sharing our pain that we made life more bearable.

After eight years of attending the group every month, I began facilitating that same group.  I began to introduce myself to newly bereaved parents as “the long view”.  Today, my daughter would have been 23 years old.  I am still the long view.

Here are a few of the hard learned lessons that I have learned:

  1. I have very little control over the events of my life, but I do control the grace and dignity with which I respond to those events.
  2. I have to grow my dead child just as I grow my live children.  My dead child still has birthdays, milestones and anniversaries.
  3. The pain of having a child die never goes away.  We learn to live with it and we learn to cope. We rediscover hope.Grief Renewed
  4. I am still her parent.  As her parent, I will never stop loving her and I will never forget her.

Time does not automatically heal all.  I had to put in the hard work.  I had to cry.  I had to rant.  I had to learn that life is not always fair and that I am not entitled to a pain-free, perfect life.  As time went on, my family and I round a new normal. We found hope.  We found the courage to have another baby.  We found the strength to move forward.

I learned to carry my daughter in my heart rather than in my arms.  I learned how to look for the gifts that she gave to me if only I would open my eyes to acknowledge them.

My life has been so unbelievably enriched by the experience.  Of course, I’d prefer that my baby had lived, but all in all, I’m happy.  I have hope.  I am a survivor. I am strong and capable.  And, I’d like to believe that my daughter has taught me how to live in grace and dignity and perhaps to be a little less judgmental.  After 23 years, I am your long view.



A parent in grief is like a vase that has been hurled to crash upon the concrete.  In one sudden, fluid and irretrievable motion, we are shattered into thousands of pieces in an unpredictable landing pattern.  The debris field of our souls is vast.

The base, still intact is mostly defined by jagged edges to be handled with care.  Sharp edges that will slice open those who are not cautious and even some who are.

Piece by piece the vase must be put back together.  Years of painstaking work will be needed to place back together the shards of who we are.  A vast puzzle of unfathomable  proportions, is swept up from the floor and lies in a dustpan.  Value and beauty worth saving, lying in a magnitude of destruction that seems impossible to replicate.

And it is.

Slowly and surely, with help and support, we once again begin to take form.  Reminiscent of our previous structure, but not exact.  Piece by piece is put back in place, but will never be flawless.  The glue of love helps hold us together.  Far to fragile to be set in a vise for bonding, we must sit in the open, unprotected from life, while the adhesive takes hold, in danger of being accidentally or carelessly knocked down again.

Once all the pieces are back in place, the best they ever will be, we are still fractured and chipped, yet we still are able to hold onto the potpourri of the beautiful flowers that we once held and are still  just as precious a ever.  Our imperfections bring character and showcase our history.

It may be years before we are able to build up the strength of a seal coating and even then we will occasionally leak when under pressure and need a little extra mending and tender loving care.

We always will have our chips and cracks, but will also survive to hold life’s most beautiful bouquets.

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