Well, this post is about to get real personal….
Nine years ago today, I became a mom. It was 16 weeks earlier than my due date and I had been in the hospital for over a week on strict bed rest with preterm labor. For some reason my body was saying it was time and Caleb was born. We tried to find a cause and will never know why.
|Caleb holds his Daddy’s hand hours after his arrival.|
Caleb’s weight and size were promising for someone born at 24 weeks, but the odds were not in his favor and he left us 9 days after his birth. He had great moments where he showed us what a fighter and how strong he was. He amazed the doctors who were surprised he made it as long as he did. I am thankful for every second we had together.
I have had said goodbye to more family members than most – Mom and sister when I was in college, grandparents, my brother, my dad, my sweet brother in law, aunts and uncles. Its not easy saying goodbye to a loved one no matter what the circumstances – but the grief of losing a child is like that of no other loss.
With Caleb, the tears of grief hurt as the fell off my cheeks and hit my chest. It was hard that no one talked about him, because it was such sad time people did not know what to do or say.
For those of us who lost someone, there is support out there. I found it via a local group SHARE Atlanta and chatted online with other moms through National Share Support for Infancy Loss and The Compassionate Friends.
This poem was shared with me by my friend Patty who lost her firstborn Jake to cancer after his fourth birthday. I thought it would be great to share since it expressed the common feelings of grieving parents. It offers some words of what friends and family CAN do – especially in that first year when things are intense and the pain and sadness are so high. Its a little long but says so much.
Bereaved Parents Wish List
I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had him back.
I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you also.
If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.
Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you now more than ever.
I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you, but I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child; my favorite topic of the day.
I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you too. I wish you would let me know these things through a phone call, a card or note, or a real big hug.
I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over. These first years are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.
I am working hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child and I will always grieve that he is dead.
I wish you wouldn’t expect me “not to think about it” or “be happy”. Neither will happen for a very long time, so don’t frustrate yourself.
I don’t want to have a “Pity party”, but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.
I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.
When I say, “I’m doing okay”, I wish you could understand that I don’t “feel” okay and that I struggle daily.
I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.
Your advice to “take it one day at a time” is excellent advice. However, a day is too much and too fast for me right now. I wish you could understand that I’m doing good to handle an hour at a time.
Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need to get off. When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet place to spend time alone.
I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died and I will never be that person again.
I wish very much that you could understand ~ understand my loss and my grief. But, I pray daily that you will never understand.
–Poem from Compassionate Friends
Since nine years have passsed, the pain and sadness are certainly much less…but the emptiness is still there. With school back in this past week I have been a little off – and I realized last week it was the fact I didn’t get to register my 3rd Grader. See – it never really leaves this grief.
I found this verse very comforting that first year….and still.
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
Happy Heavenly Birthday to my little man and to Patty’s son Super Jake.
“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.”
Until we meet again Caleb, I love you to the moon and back.
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Karen Seal says
Oh my goodness Julie…hugs a million times over are coming your way right now. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through, but I do thank you for sharing your story. ((hugs))
Amy H says
sending all the love I can muster
Julie Franklin says
Thanks so much! I really appreciate everything Amy. Hugs to you.
Amy Albers says
So sweet, Julie. God bless your little man and all of his family. He’s being cared for by all your other loved ones!
Julie Franklin says
Yep he is is great hands. Can’t wait for the family reunion. 🙂 Thanks Amy!
Sweet baby. Love you Julie!
Julie Franklin says
Thanks Patty! Right back at you!
April S says
I’m in tears with/for you and Patty right now. I’ve had several miscarriages and lost my brother in his early twenties, but I cannot fathom the pain of losing a child.
“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Thank you for such a personal and touching post and for sharing your memories and love with us.
Julie Franklin says
April you are so sweet and so welcome. thanks for the amazing quote too.