This is the face a grieving mother. The sadness in my eyes, met with uncontrollable sobs.
Even eight years later.
It doesn’t matter whether you have living children, or reasons to smile and celebrate, the loss of a child is part of you forever.
I’m not showing this picture for sympathy. It’s not a “woe is me” moment.
I’m showing you this unfiltered, raw picture because chances are, you know someone like me.
You see, when you lose a child, a piece of you disappears. There will always be a hole in your heart. After the initial loss, that period of grief, people assume life goes back to normal.
But it is never normal again for a parent of loss. The world keeps on going, while the days standstill for those of us forced to navigate life after loss.
I’m showing you this picture because so many others are just like me. For the past week, I’ve held it together. I’ve smiled and laughed with my colluegues, I’ve tumbled with my toddler at gymnastics.
But deep down I’ve been hurting; the grief so difficult that the sobs couldn’t even wait for the sleepless nights. They showed up at work, in the grocery store, even as I took the dog for a walk.
This is a picture of a grieving mother. But behind the anguish is gratitude and love. As I spent most of my children’s birthday alone, in a solitude of tears, my phone kept pinging with alerts.
Friends and strangers wishing my children Happy Birthday. Not just my living children, but my two babies who will never blow out the candles on their cake.
I’m lucky. I have a support system that spans the world, filled with people who love my children like their own, who aren’t afraid to say my children’s names. And that’s what helps me smile each day.
As you look at this picture of me, deep in the throes of grief, I hope you think of others who may be walking a similar path. You may see smiling pictures on Facebook, at your child’s baseball game, or even a smiling anchor on the news. But most of the time, our grief is invisible, tucked far away from society.
This is the face of a grieving mother. Behind those tears is a strong woman who survived the yearly triggers of loss, breathing a sigh of relief at the end of the day.