It’s a comment many grieving parents have heard. It’s hard to fathom losing a child and to live each day without them. It’s hard to imagine what could have been, knowing that there should be children running through your home. So when people say, “I don’t know how you do it,” my response is simple:
I have no other choice.
How do you wake up every day without your child? I have no other choice. At times, the grief feels like a ton of bricks, weighing each and every piece of me down. But, I have no other choice. I wake up every day, I go to work. I go through the motions because the world never stops, even if my little corner feels empty and lonely. I have bills to pay and mouths to feed, and I have a living child and husband who rely on me.
I don’t know how you do it. I hear that comment as anniversaries arrive and holidays pass by. Those special milestones hold extra meaning, a reminder that I should have three children beside me, not just one physically here on earth. But grieving parents somehow muster up the strength to survive loss. We quickly learn that you never “get over” it, instead, grief lasts a lifetime. It becomes part of our everyday lives, creeping into conversations and showing up when we least expect it.
I don’t know how you do it, how you can be happy even in the wake of loss. I hear this comment often from people who have never experienced a miscarriage, a stillbirth or the loss of a child. There were no smiles, no laughter shortly after our losses. But, eventually bits and pieces of the “old me” appeared.
In my mind, I had no other choice.
I could fall into deep depression or I could figure out how to live again. And that’s exactly what I did. And to be honest, I’m happier than I’ve been in years. There will always be that empty space as I imagine life with all of my children, but these days, I can laugh with my husband as we imagine what our kids would be like. I can have a day of deep sadness, and moments later feel sheer joy. That’s part of being a grieving parent. I wear my heart on my sleeve.
I don’t know how you do it. It’s a comment that has taken on new meaning over the years. I used to feel like people felt pity for me, a heartbroken mother who lost two of her children. But now, that saying brings out a sense of pride and courage. My children have made me the person I am today. Because of my losses, I am stronger than I ever imagined and more compassionate because of my grief.
Yes, there are days when even I don’t know how I do it. But, we somehow find a way. I love my children who passed away just as much as I love their sister here beside me. Even though my heart is divided between heaven and earth, love never dies.