October is here, the leaves are beautiful, and there’s a big aching pit in my stomach. On October 28th, it’ll be 3 years since Jared died. 3 years? It feels impossible, yet here we are, and I know we are far from alone. In August I went to a retreat with 8 other moms from my mom’s grief group. It was healing to be in the presence of so much wisdom and courage, each story so hard, so tender, all unique, but so many feelings the same.
So how do you survive losing a kid?
It’s different for all of us, but here are a few things that come to mind for me today—
You keep breathing.
You get used to intermittent crying in stores, restaurants, meetings, parking lots, bathrooms, airplanes.
You learn how to crawl instead of walk.
You tell their stories.
You integrate WTF into your vocabulary.
You hug your living kids and loved ones longer.
You allow yourself moments where it is all still a dream and couldn’t possibly be real.
You randomly (and in the oddest moments) travel to a time where you remember what it was like to hold them in your arms, to feed them cheerios, to read them bedtime stories, to sit in the snow at their games, to throw their birthday parties, ground them, and buy them slurpees.
You stand in front of their pictures on the wall.
You sometimes look away when you walk by the same pictures because it hurts too much.
You make a lot of therapy appointments.
You quickly learn there’s no such thing as “getting through grief”, only embracing its rhythms as part of forever.
You find others who know the feeling.
You brace yourself for death anniversaries & birthdays & holidays.
You find comfort in nature because it speaks without words.
You discover how many other people are surviving, too.
You let yourself feel feelings you thought would kill you but actually don’t.
You hear their voice cheering you on.
You re-remember every single day “oh, yeah, grief has no rules.”
You learn the art of practicing paradox.
You don’t wait to do things you really want to do.
You pray with your feet.
You begin to own this is part of your story–but not the only story.
You remember what a gift it is, was, and will always be to get to be their mom.
You keep breathing.