Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Image from here
I know a woman through a friend who lost her eight month old daughter to SIDS a number of years ago. I lived a long way from her, didn't know her well, but it was absolutely heartbreaking. I ached for her and her family. But never knew what to do;  what to say.

On the first occasion that we met up after it had happened,  many months had passed. Maybe even years. I remember that I smiled knowingly at her, showed my sorrow with a look of longing as our eyes met for slightly too long and I ignored the 'elephant in the room'.

"Surely she doesn't want me to bring it up?" I thought.

It never sat well with me. The fact that I had never acknowledged her loss properly. Had never offered my condolences. Had never offered to share some of her pain.

Life went on.

I had the joy of spending some time with her over the weekend. I was overwhelmed with this amazing woman. She is so brave and so very, very strong. She has seen the worst that life can throw at you. And survived.

We talked together. About her daughter. About her loss. About her grief. And about her healing.

I was mesmerised by her story, the re-learning she underwent to carry on and her ability to cope.

She is the mother of four children, but she is left mothering only three of them. There will always be a gaping hole in her family and in her heart, but she still finds the happiness in life. The joy in living. The strength to carry on.

I don't know if I could survive the loss of one of my children. I really don't. I sincerely hope I never have to find out. No parent should have to go through that heartache.

Tonight my thoughts are with those of you who have had to endure the death of a child. I hope that you too find the joy in life again, as my friend's friend has. She makes me feel that it must be possible to go on in life when you think you cannot and hopefully her story offers comfort to someone else.


Diminishing Lucy said...

Having suffered a late loss and knowing that pain, I find it stills my heart utterly to realise that anyone has to suffer more pain than that. And yet I know they do, and bravely so.


Miss Pink said...

I understand how you feel. It's like you feel unqualified having not been there yourself to say anything but your heart, soul and body aches for their pain, their loss and you so desperately want to wrap them in your arms and take away some of their pain.
What do you do?
What do those who have suffered loss want us to do?
Bring it up. Bring up their pain? Or to just leave it alone? Remain silent.

Kymmie said...

I think just imagining losing one of my children makes me want to cry. I can't even imagine the reality. Life sure has it's sucky moments, and I think that some have more of a share than they deserve. You're a good friend. x

Lisa said...

As someone who has suffered losses - both stillbirth and late miscarriages I have to say the lack of acknowledgement of your loss is the hardest. However people do understand that its a hard conversation for everyone and nobody wants to say the "wrong" thing and potentially cause more pain. I cannot imagine the pain that some parents live with its inspirationsl that they can function and have the strength to enjoy life again.

Photographer Mum said...

I had a lady in my prenatal class who lost her baby 4 days before she was born. They have gone through unbelievable heartbreak over the past 4 years. I have kept in touch with her, even though I don't know her very well. Every year I email her, to remember and celebrate her baby on the anniversary of her birth. She really appreciates that I remember her baby girl.
I think it depends on the person/family, but an acknowledgement, just to say you are thinking of them and remembering that their child mattered, is often appreciated. I have a few friends who have gone through the same thing, and I wish beyond words that they never had to. It is so heartbreaking.

I hope I am not overstepping the line by adding this website address, but I truly think it is an amazing service, one which I am hoping to become a part of:

If you ever know of anyone who has a baby or child who is stillborn or terminally/gravely ill, there is an organisation called Heartfelt, which gives the gift of photographic memories of their children. Professional photographers are on call any time of day (in every state in Australia), and the service is completely free of charge. They are poignant and beautifully presented memories to remember their child by.

1000 Homes of Happiness said...

Beautiful post. The talking, remembering and acknowledging the enormity of such a loss and her little one is important.

Just heartbreaking xoxox

Kellie x

Mama of 2 boys said...

You know the more time goes on, the more that horrific thought springs to mind. I fall in love with my boys more every day and I know I wouldn't survive if anything were to happen to them. I'm in awe of people like your friend, who find something deep within and pull themselves through the pit of despair. I don't think I have that kind of strength. I don't ever want to find out. A beautifully haunting post and an uplifting one in many ways. I'm sure spending time with someone as compassionate as yourself was another piece of healing for this friend xo

Toni said...

This was really timely for me. My son died from SIDS in 1996, and it's his birthday on Saturday. He should be 15.
For some reason, this year has been very hard. After all this time, grief can still take over, even when you think you're mostly doing OK.
You've done the kindest and most helpful thing of all -- to listen.
I know how much that would mean to her.

Andrea said...

So glad you made it right with her...I am the same way regarding bringing up tragedy with people. I have never wanted to bring up hurt, but once I read that it hurts the love one more not to mention it...I have made a mental note to never ignore it again.

I am right there with you on out living my would kill me. On that subject - not sure if you read on my blog about the house of a pregnant mother of 3 got hit by a masive tornado last week down the road from me. It killed her 18 month old and 3 year old boys. Her 5 year girl survive, but was severly injured. The mother was also severly injured, but did not lose the pregnancy. Anyways my heart had weighed very heavily on that family. I can not even imagine the pain they are going through. So very sad!

Kim H said...

Such a heart wrenching post. I have a friend who lost her baby to SIDS, 3 days before her {the baby's} 1st birthday. It was such a sad, sad, utterly painful time. She too, had gone on to have more children {3 more} but her heart will never, ever be filled completely.

I think talking about it, for these grieving mothers, is what they want more than anything. It was so lovely that you got to talk to your friend about her loss and about her baby.

Anonymous said...

I'm lost for words. This is too sad, and it's frightening how many families share similar stories (mine included, twice over).
We should reach out to these families, put our own worries aside and just be there to listen and to preserve the memory of their lost children. You're a good woman, MM. x

Tat said...

Saying something is so important, it invites the person who is grieving to open up. My heart goes out to your friend.

Daisy, Roo and Two said...

I completely understand the feeling of not knowing whether to bring it up. It is so hard to know what to say and how to say it and when it is appropriate.
Tat is also right - saying something, anything, can be the one thing that helps that person through their day. Just to know that their los has been acknowledged.
I'm so glad you got to reconnect with your friend and talk to her about her beautifuk daughter.

Glowless @ Where's My Glow said...

I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, my head just cannot process it.

From reading people's stories online I've been able to have a better understanding of what to say (and what not to say) to those who have, including my own parents.

My friend lost one of her twins at 2 weeks of age so our mothers group organized a memorial bracelet for her on the one year anniversary, to show her that we remembered, to acknowledge that he existed in the world, if only for a short time. I think losing one twin would be extremely difficult; having a daily reminder of what the other one would have looked like.

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