SHARED BY DAWN Waymire
A Deep Price
To the parents who have just joined this “club” of child loss, I’d welcome you to your new group, your new tribe—but honestly, we didn’t want you here. We really didn’t want anyone else to join us. Because it’s awful. I know I’m supposed to be here giving you hope and encouraging you, and we’ll get to that. But right at this moment you need to know what’s ahead of you. And it’s hard. And just when you think you’ve found that path to the light, to the healing, something will smack you back into the pit.
I’d like to tell you that it gets easier, that in a few years you’ll look back and laugh at the hot mess you are now. But you won’t. Because it will still hurt. Every day for the rest of your life. You will forever grieve not only the memories you’ve made with your child, but also all the memories you should be making. You are paying a deep price for the love you shared, and you will always feel this. Your heart, no matter how much you heal, will remain broken.
But it does change. And you will get stronger. And every now and then, you’ll find a safe place to rest that heavy burden you now carry. You’ll find projects, or tools, or people to help you. You’ll find a place to scream, cry, and rage. And a place to say your child’s name. But the biggest milestone for me has been to allow myself to recognize all the feelings that are a part of grief and accept them as part of the process.
This experience, this lifelong journey, will change you. Some of the changes will be positive. Some will be negative. I’m trying to hold on to the good—the pieces that drive me. And I’m working to let go of the negative. And I’m working to understand they are all part of the new me.
After the loss of our daughter, my husband and I attended a couples’ grief retreat. While there, we were encouraged to write each other letters based on a Hawaiian principle called Hoʻoponopono. I loved the prompts—they allowed me to say things for which I previously had found no words. And they allowed me to put into words the forgiveness I was seeking for myself.
Hoʻoponopono is defined as “mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness” (via wehewehe.org).
The practice of Ho’oponopono is based on several prompts: I’m sorry. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. I hope. After the grief retreat, I also wrote to my daughter. I’d like to share a letter with you, so you can get a little glimpse at our life with our beautiful girl, Zoey.
Baby girl. My love. My life. I’m sorry you couldn’t stay. I’m sorry if I ever caused you any pain. If I didn’t tell you enough how much I love you. I’m sorry if you were bored looking at our ceiling! I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to tell you all our stories. To bake cookies with you. Watch you in your first dance recital. Graduate. Get married. You’re probably doing so many better, amazing things with your friends, but I’m sorry I don’t get to tell you how wonderful you are. I’m sorry you have to see me cry. I try really hard not to tell you how much I miss you because I don’t want you to feel bad for me, but the truth is I do miss you. Every moment.
I have nothing to forgive you for. You were everything I could have dreamed. Strong. Brave. Sweet. Cuddly. Beautiful. I know you tried so hard for us. I’m so proud of you. I want to shout to everyone, “Look at her! I made her! And she’s incredible!”
Thank you for choosing me to be your mom. Thank you for making me a mom. For cuddling with me, and cooing for me. For kicking those sweet little feet at me. For throwing your fist in the air and scrunching your forehead. Thank you for changing hearts, and showing everyone what love is supposed to look like. You were unbelievable. I am blessed to say you were mine.
I love you. To the ends of the earth, and the depth of the sea. To the moon and back. I love you more than I thought I could ever love. You opened spaces in my heart I didn’t know existed.
I hope you know how much you were wanted. How much you are loved. How much we appreciate every moment we spent in your presence. I hope you know I was in awe of you every minute. That you took my breath away. That you still do.
I hope it’s beautiful where you are. I hope you run up to your grandpa, grinning with paint all over your little fingers after painting the sunset each night. I hope you and the girls have the best slumber parties full of fresh-baked brownies and cookie dough ice cream. I hope someone is holding your hand while you dance in a sparkly pink tutu.
And I hope I get to hold you again someday. I love you baby girl.
Until we meet again.
To Grieving Parents
Using those prompts, I have also written you a letter.
I’m so sorry. Although sorry doesn’t begin to cover it. I’d like things to be different—I’d like for you to still be on the outside and oblivious to this nightmare. I’m sorry you’ve joined our club and find yourself reading about loss. I’m sorry I can’t tell you anything that will erase the pain. I’m sorry I can’t bring your child back to you. I’m sorry you’re hurting. I’m sorry joy has been ripped from you. I’m sorry you sometimes feel like it’s your fault. I’m sorry you feel like you failed. I’m sorry your heart is broken. I’m sorry you feel broken.
I Forgive You.
While you did nothing wrong, I understand the guilt because I have it, too. You’ve handed over the most amazing part of your life, and you can’t do that without repercussions. However, in this journey, you’ll have to learn to forgive yourself. You’ll have to work toward forgiving yourself for the anger, lack of patience, fear, irrationality and jealousy. It’s all part of the process, and you have to allow yourself to feel it and to release it, even if just a little bit.
Thank you for being strong enough to read this, and to reach out to those who have been before you. Thank you for walking through the darkness in an effort to find your way.
I Love You.
I wish we were talking under different circumstances, but you’ll find a bond that you didn’t know was possible with the other people in this club. When others say they know, they don’t. But we do. As sad as it is to think about, others have come before and more will come after. None of us chose to walk this path, but we’re here now and we’re in it together. In your darkest hour, we will sit with you and allow you to just be. Right now, that may be all you have the strength to do. You are surviving and you’re breathing, and that is enough.
While we all handle these emotions differently and use various coping mechanisms, I want you to remember that you are not weird, you are not doing “worse” than anyone else, and you’re not doing this grief thing “wrong.” Whatever thoughts you have are as normal as they can be for someone who has lost so much. In those dark moments, remember that I love you and remember your bravery (even though you may think it’s ridiculous to say you’re brave), and I’m saving space for you in my heart.
I hope that even when the darkness is overwhelming, you know light is there. I hope you allow it to shine through the broken pieces of your heart. I hope you find ways to share the love you have for your child with the world around you. I hope you don’t get bitter or angry, and if you do, you don’t stay there too long. Beating yourself up won’t fix the pain, so I hope you can be gentle with yourself. Please remember all those feelings you’re having are perfectly justified, even when others will tell you to stop having them.
I hope that even though you’ll be walking a thin line forever, you lean toward the side with the light. Sometimes when you look back at the memories you’ve made, your heart will be ripped apart again, but sometimes you’ll smile. I hope that knowing there’s always a catch to your joy doesn’t stop you from trying. I hope you find a way to laugh again—deep, uncontrollable, healing laughter. I hope you’ll find joy and understand the depths of it because you also know the depths of sadness and despair.
And I hope you also hold on to hope, as I have. You must cling to it when the nights are long. Hope can present itself in many forms: maybe it's in the butterfly that flutters past as you kneel at your child's grave, in the rainbow that appears over the spot where you laid your child’s ashes to rest, in a song on the radio, or in a note from a friend. Or maybe it's just believing your lost daughter or son is somewhere beautiful now. You may have to fight for it, holding on with bleeding fingers, but it's worth it. Just as loving your child is worth the pain.
And I hope you know that love wins.