I know right now, you feel so alone. It feels like your world is crumbling down around you, and no one understands the crippling pain stabbing through your heart. The tears come easily at the thought of your baby’s perfect face, and right now, you wouldn’t have it any other way. Because you can’t imagine feeling anything but pain at the thought of missing your baby.
I know this is hard to hear, but I know how you feel. I know, because I have been where you are. I have spent those days in bed, unwilling to move. Unable to get up and brush my teeth. Crying for days because the only image in my head was that of my son, as he took his last breath. I know the empty ache of your chest, when it feels difficult to breathe because you have been unmoving and crying for days. The weakness that envelops our bodies when we just don’t want to go on. I’ve been there. I feel you, sweet Momma. I want to hold your hand, and tell you that everything you are feeling right now, I felt too. And it is all normal. You are not alone.
When my son died, I didn’t know anyone that had experienced the loss of a baby like I had. My son was a twin, and was born at 29 weeks. He lived for 90 minutes, but never opened his eyes while he was alive. After he died, I felt so alone and full of shame. I had two living children to take care of- one of which was still in the NICU. I struggled with pretending to be strong for him and my daughter, while hiding away to cry any chance I could. So many people called me “strong” during this time, but I felt anything but. I was a shell of the person I once was, and I had no idea how to go on. After all, how does a mother keep going after losing a child? It seems like an impossible task.
It took me several years to find a way to fully understand what my purpose in life was after losing my son. And it was my sons life and death that actually led me to this knowledge.
I firmly believe that every single life has a purpose. Our babies were born to us by God for a reason, and though their lives were tragically ended too soon, that does not take away their purpose.
I like to think of our purpose like a little flame in our hearts. When we don’t acknowledge it, and don’t pursue our purpose in life, the flame can slowly flicker out and be extinguished. But when we know our purpose and fulfill it, the flame grows, and glows so bright that it lights the way for others to follow in our path. When our babies are no longer able to fulfill their own purpose, their flame is passed along to their parents. It is then our responsibility to keep their flame glowing brightly, and not let our tears and pain extinguish their light.
When I started sharing Joey’s story more openly last year, it re-lit the flame in my heart. I felt a small flicker at first, which made me a little nervous and excited at the same time. For the first time, I wasn’t scared to share my story of loss. I wasn’t terrified to stand in front of a large group of people to speak. I was writing, speaking, being filmed, and being asked to speak on a podcast. I could feel Joey’s flame, burning brightly with his purpose. He was showing me what I was meant to do. His life had meaning, and he was here to show me where I was supposed to go in life. Without him, I wouldn’t have a story to tell. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to connect and help others. Without him, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
We are allowed to grieve our loss in whatever way we need to. There is no right or wrong way to grieve your baby. Just please don’t live in your grief. You owe it to yourself and your baby to keep going, and to keep your flame glowing so you can lead others along the path of your purpose.
It has been over 5 years since I last held my sweet Joey. And there are still days where it feels like it was yesterday, and I need to sit with my grief and acknowledge it. We will always have days of sadness as long as we have love in our hearts for those we have lost. My only hope is that eventually we have more days filled with joy and purpose to keep going, and to bring meaning to our story.
And until you make it, I will be here to hold your hand along the way.