Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What It’s Like to Care for a Deceased Child

amazing alexander oil and canvasIf you read the title to this post and thought, “nobody cares for a deceased child” then read on because I live it every day. Sigh.

I think I start out all of my posts about Alexander with a sigh. Almost four years on and it’s not any easier. Just different.

My grief is no longer physiological as well as psychological. I don’t need to remind myself to breath.

In case you didn’t know, Alexander was born December 11, 2009 and nine days later he was gone… from this world.

But I still care for him.

You should see the looks I get when I tell people that I “care for three children”. I mean, people can count and two doesn’t equal three any day of the week.

Once, someone even congratulated me for being pregnant with my third child.

I understand that you may think I’m crazy. I thought I was for a while too. But I’m not.

If you know someone who has lost a child, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died–you’re not reminding them. They didn’t forget they died. What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift –Elizabeth Edwards

I remember the moments right after Alexander died. He needed a bath and for whatever reason, I had to put him down for a minute. The nurse suggested the counter, which was the most logical place and where I had put Max and Artemis several times. The only problem was that there wasn’t a towel there and I didn’t want him to be uncomfortable on the cold, hard surface.

It never crossed my mind that he might not know the difference.

Alexanders Shelf
And life goes on.

The Kids share their toys with him, invite him to tea parties, tease him and put money in his piggyback. I dress his picture up in silly clothes and remind him that he too needs to share with his siblings.

And I kiss his picture every night and tell him I love him. He needs to know that he is loved.

Equally important, Max and Artemis need to know that if it had been them that had passed away, they too would have mattered.

Even in death, I still care for him.

Do You Know Someone that has Lost a Child?

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day Logo

Today is “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day”. In the past, I have written about it in 2010 and 2011.

If you have a story that you’d like to share, please leave the link below. I would love to read about your child.

Note that I do not own the rights to the above image.

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80 thoughts on “What It’s Like to Care for a Deceased Child

  1. Rene

    My story involves a dear friend and just how much she has taught me about loving and loss. Without her I wouldn’t have the same understanding or insight into what it means to lose a child and I feel that I am a better world citizen for it. We should all take more time to listen to each others stories, so the lives of others can guide our own. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Darlene Schuller

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You know my story. Unfortunately, I’m not ‘there’ yet. We are quickly approaching 1 year since SIDS took Mayson at 10 months old. The days, are a little easier, but not better.. I know YOU understand that.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Darlene,

      I do know your story and am honoured that you have chosen to share Mayson with me. Both of you are so lucky to have each other. If and when you ever “get there”, let me know what it’s like because I don’t know where I am. Except that I’m here.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
      1. Darlene Schuller

        I wish I knew where ‘there’ was. I hear its ‘peaceful” and “accepting” … “understanding” .. maybe together we can find out way..

        Reply
  3. Christy Maurer

    You are an amazing mom, Sarah! What you do for all of your kids is wonderful! I love how much you involve Max and Artemis. I’m sure they still have a deep bond with Alexander like you do! One of my dear friends lost a baby at birth about 3 years ago, and she just gave birth to a baby girl last month. I know her grief for Noah is still very real and she says Morgan is her second child. Hugs!
    Christy Maurer recently posted…Blogger Opp $500 Amazon Gift Card EventMy Profile

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Christy,

      I think it’s great that you can support your friend in her journey and really hear her when she says that this is her second child. Thanks for the kind words. I try my best.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Uncle Eric,

      Would some fresh coffee help with those tears? If not, you know we’re always good for some stale cookies.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Angie,

      Thank you for stopping by, reading and commenting. Like any parent, I never need an excuse to talk about my kids. No matter where they are.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  4. Sarah @ Living As We

    I have never experienced the loss of a child, but I do have a few friends who have, and they’ve said things along the same lines as you, about still caring. I don’t think it’s crazy at all. I truly believe that your Alexander knows he is very much loved, and will always be with you and your family. A mothers’ love is certainly unlike any other love on this earth, and it reaches far beyond life or death. Thanks for passing a long such a strong message 🙂
    Sarah @ Living As We recently posted…Where Does the Time Go?My Profile

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Sarah,

      Thanks for your words. They help during those times when you feel like no one understands, yet obviously, people do.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
      1. admin

        Dear Heather,

        Now that I think about it, the whole concept (show my kids that they matter, through Alexander) makes complete sense. Yet another reminder that life doesn’t come with a manual.

        P.S. Artemis told me that she doesn’t mind being called a boy 🙂

        Besos, Sarah

        Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Stephanie,

      I try to learn from everyone around me. Present company included. Thank you for your kind words. I hope your heart is okay 🙂

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Catherine,

      For a while there, I was worried that I would forget or stop caring. Now I know that I never will.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Jill,

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. Thank you so much for sharing him with me. If you ever want to chat, vent, cry or share a piece of your son, you are welcome to my ears and my blog.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  5. Ashley J

    I lost my little brother in 2005 to cystic fibrosis. He was 13. 🙁 Sometimes, I’ll cry when I think about him. Sometimes it’s a happy, remembering cry, and other times it’s a painful, loss cry. People can be so ignorant and say, it’s been so long and you don;t need to cry about it anymore. That just makes me cry more because it feels like noone cares how I feel about it….But I will never forget about my brother….even if that means I have to cry. Sigh.

    Reply
  6. Ashley J

    My mom and dad haven’t been together in many, many years…but they still share my brothers urn. My dad will have it for a year, then my mom, and so on….

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Ashley,

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your little brother. No matter what people say, he existed and he matters. No one can ever take that away from him or you.

      I absolutely love that your parents share your brothers urn. It makes me smile and is a reminder that even in death, people matter.

      I am here if you ever want to chat.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  7. Cheryl

    So beautifully written. I haven’t lost a child but there was a brief moment during delivery that the doctor told me my son may not survive. It was terrifying. From reading your posts, I can really see how much you love all three of your children. I love the quote that you shared here…and now I’m wiping tears from my face!
    Cheryl recently posted…Party Tip Tuesday with A Little PixelMy Profile

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Cheryl,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m sorry to hear about your child’s scare and hope all is fine. Life is such a gift.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  8. Kayla @ TheEclecticElement

    Sarah, you’re most definitely correct; regardless of whether you never met your child or you met them and they were taken away from you, you NEVER forget and you NEVER get over it. You may move on with your life but their presence is always there.

    Thankfully I’ve accepted the fact that my Little Angel was not meant to be at that current point in time and it does help ease the pain a little bit, but of course, not completely.

    Sending lots of love and light to you and your THREE children today!
    Kayla @ TheEclecticElement recently posted…A Lunch Date at NIU Student Run Bahama Breeze RestaurantMy Profile

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Kayla,

      I am so sorry to hear about your loss but happy that acceptance has helped to lift your sadness a bit. Things changed for me around three years when I realized that Alexander wasn’t coming back.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  9. Pamlet

    How lovely, My Sarah & thank you for sharing your story. I admire you and adore you for so many reasons but your fierce yet gentle spirit makes me love you. Besos right back xo

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Pamlet,

      If I listen closely enough, I can hear your kind words in my ears. Thanks for wanting to support me in being the best that I can be.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  10. Coffee with Julie

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I think parents need to keep caring for their deceased child in whatever way they can, or provides comfort and meaning to them. My girlfriend celebrates her deceased daughter’s birthday with her other two children … some people might think this is odd, since her daughter is not physically there. But they are celebrating her and that’s what counts. She will never be forgotten. Just like your dear son.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Julie,

      Before I lost Alexander, I would have been one of those people that thought your friend was crazy. Now I get. Thanks for sharing her story.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  11. Cheryl Grandy

    I have been fortunate enough to have never experienced the death of my child, so I can never know how you feel. But I imagine that it’s a struggle every time someone asks you how many children you have. I’m sorry you’re having to suffer this loss.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Cheryl,

      Exactly. It hurts for me to say that I have two children and it hurts for me to say that I have three. This is my reality. Thank you for your kind words.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  12. Sandy

    What an amazing mother you are, Sarah. I loved this post. I had a friend who went through something similar and it was one of the worst things I ever saw someone go through. I love how you involve Alexander with things in your daily life with your other kids. Not only will he always be a part of you, but you are ensuring he will always be a part of your kids as well. Hugs to you, Sarah.
    Sandy recently posted…Shrek: The Musical ~ Available On Blu-Ray And DVD October 15th ~ #GiveawayMy Profile

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Sandy,

      You are such a great support in so many aspects of my life. I am fortunate to call you a friend.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Amanda,

      I am so happy that I figured that part out too. Not only for Alexander, Max and Artemis but me too. I’ve given myself permission to talk about him.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  13. Nolly

    I’m positive that, next to my mother, you are the strongest woman i know. My sister died when she was 26 and how she goes on every day is nothing short of a miracle to me. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find a case of tissues …

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Nolly,

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. My aunt lost her son as an adult and I didn’t “get the things she did” until I lost Alexander. I’m sad that we both lost but happy that we had each other.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Brenda,

      I love sharing stories about all my kids. I’m pleased to hear that you appreciated that.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  14. Jo-Anne Pfoh

    You are an amazing woman and mom I really respect and admire you. Touching story and so well written for such a tough subject. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Jo-Anne,

      Thank you so much for reading my words. My motto has always been to “write about what I know” and unfortunately, I know what it’s like to care for a deceased child.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  15. Steffany @ Spit & Sparkles

    A beautiful tribute! It takes a lot of strength to acknowledge your loss everyday in front of your other children, but how wonderful for them to see their mother coping and living with such pain. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you, but you’re a great example to M & A. ((hugs))

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Steffany,

      Thank you so much for your kind and supportive words. Interestingly, The Kids don’t miss Alexander because he’s a part of their daily life.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Julia,

      Thanks for being so understanding about my “multiples angst”. You are such a lovely person and will always be my Cindy.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  16. Tom Ds

    This is so sad. My wife lost a child in her first marriage due to a hole in his muscle. Also her grandmother had 14 kids, yet only 7 survived. Infant loss is so sad. I’m sorry to hear.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Tom Ds,

      I am so sorry to hear of your wife and Grandmother-in-laws losses. No one wants to talk about “dead babies” but it makes those of us that have lost feel so alone some times. Thanks for sharing.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  17. Nena Sinclair

    It’s wonderful that your keep Alexander’s memory alive! I went through a miscarriage and that was very difficult, but to lose a full term baby after only nine days, I can’t even imagine! Hugs.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Nena,

      I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Miscarriage, stillbirth, one day, 10 years. Anyway you slice it, loss is hard. Thank you so much for being a part of Alexander’s story.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  18. Lynn @NomadMomDiary

    Sarah – I had no idea that you lost a child. My sister lost her daughter in 2009 – just 14 weeks after she was born. We have never forgotten baby Kenzie and I know that she will love her for as long as she lives. I’ll definitely pass along your site to her so that she can comment as well. Thanks for sharing such an intimate part of your life.
    Lynn @NomadMomDiary recently posted…Struggling – what is a supermom?My Profile

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Lynn,

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your niece. Please let your sister know that I am here if she ever wants to talk, vent, cry, laugh.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  19. Jessica

    I love how you word this Sarah “I care for three children.” I hate going through the whole process of explaining I have five but one that passed away. It just takes so much emotional energy. Sometimes I say that I have four at home so that I don’t have to explain it all away.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Jessica,

      Sometimes I say I have one less child too. Doesn’t help much. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t… Thank you for being such a great support to me all these years.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
    1. admin

      Dear Angel,

      Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share a part of our story with others. I would be so proud if Alexander’s story helped even one person.

      Besos, Sarah

      Reply
  20. Elizabeth Matthiesen

    as I write this tears are streaming down my face. I really feel for all of you who have lost a child, I can’t imagine what that’s like but I do know it shouldn’t be. I have been blessed with 7 children and am lucky that they are all healthy and well, all over 21 now. My thoughts are with you.

    Reply
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  24. Jess Gockley

    Your post brought me to tears. Ive walked a similar road and understand, to the extent that anyone can understand another person’s trauma, still caring for and loving (and talking to) your child who has passed away. I only read the one post, but it sounded as though you had triplets? ( still had two to go see in the hospital). I gave birth to triplets on Dec 8, 2004 at 24 weeks, 5 days gestation. My littlest, Emma, weighed 1 lb 5 oz. She lived 8 days. We believe she caught a staph infection and was too little to handle it. The next day was almost impossible to walk back into the NICU and walk by where her isolette had been (thankfully, the spot was empty and the nurses had moved the giraffe bed out for an open bed) to see our other two babies. They are now 10 1/2 and I still talk to Emma. They know about her and she has a tiny cupcake every birthday they celebrate. It’s a heartbreaking thing to call the other two “twins” because they are, and always will be, triplets. But I began calling them that for the very reasons you stated, people looking at me crazy when the numbers don’t add up. I appreciate your courage to write about your loss and life. It’s a rough road sometimes to be a mama to 4 beautiful children, one of which will always be only 8 days old. <3

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Jess,

      Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your story. Five years ago I thought that I was alone, now I know that I’m not. I’m equally sad for both situations.

      Yes, I had triplets born at 30w3d. Alexander got NEC at 8 days old and died less than 24 hours later. Yes, it was so hard to go back in. Fortunately, they moved the other two kids into another room so I never had to (nor did I) go into his room again.

      I originally worried that I would forget him. Now I realize that I never will. Realizing that I wouldn’t forget him is sometimes as sad as losing him. The thought of not having him in my life forever is so long. Forever is a long time.

      I cringe at the use of the word “twins”. Despise it. Five letters makes me want to crawl up into a ball and hide. Fortunately, The Kids are old enough that they field the questions for me nowadays. Not because I ask but just because they do. It takes a lot of pressure off of me as a person (has yet) to dispute what they say and besides, my daughter would have none of it. Her brother rides in her pocket and if others can’t see him. well, their problem, not hers.

      I truly believe that I’m a better Mother because of Alexander’s death. It saddens me sometimes because I wish that I could have had both but I know that it wouldn’t have been. So, in the end, I wouldn’t change anything. Besides the fact that I can’t.

      I am here if you ever want to talk.

      Besos Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Changing the World — One Dollar a Day #1DollaraDayMy Profile

      Reply

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