Friday, July 3, 2015

What I Really Hear When You Ask Me About the Loss of My Son #loss

Loss of a Child

“To know one person who has lost is to know ONE PERSON who has lost”

I’ve heard this saying a lot over the years. Interestingly, it’s never been in the context of loss but instead autism*. Over time, I’ve wondered if the same statement could apply to loss. Turns out that for me, it does.

Since losing Alexander, I’ve read many a post titled something like “What Not To Say To a Person That Has Lost” and I’ve never been able to relate to one thing they’ve said. Not one**. Unfortunately, it made me feel even more alone. Why were my feelings so different? Over time, I realized that they were not speaking for all those that had lost. They were not speaking for me.

I’ve refrained from writing a post like this because I don’t want to make people feel like they had to second guess themselves. Especially around those that have not spoken for themselves like myself. I hope that I’ve accomplished this except maybe that one post where I expressed my wonder at how people can call The Kids twins when they were born triplets.

I feel like as a culture we have limited what others can and can’t say, the terms that can and can’t be used all in the name of political correctness. Sometimes I feel like I can’t say anything at all, even to those in the Loss Community. I would hate to make someone else feel that way.

However, the time has come for me to deal with an issue. One that I don’t want to have a hold on my life anymore. I’ve known that I’ve been lying about this fact since the day Alexander died but I didn’t think that it was hurting anyone. Now I realize that moving forward it might hurt The Kids and so I want to do something about it.

It came to light recently when I heard The Kids giving the wrong answer to the most common question asked by people about the loss of Alexander and I realized that they’d gotten the answer from me…

“How old was your son when he died?”

What I hear when you ask this is: “Can you tell me how long your son lived so that I can determine if he lived long enough to justify your loss and/or his regular inclusion in your daily life”. And, I think that you’re thinking:

“If he was too young then it doesn’t hurt me, his Mother as much”,
“If he was born premature then his death was justified”,
“If he was only alive for nine days then he doesn’t really count”…

Make no mistake about it, you don’t really say any of this. Nor do you imply it. But, that’s what I hear.

So, for the past 5.5 years, I have lied. Almost all the time. I’ve given an answer that I think that you want to or need to hear in order to make you think that he lived long enough to matter. Answers like:

“long enough”,
“he wasn’t sick at all, it wasn’t supposed to end this way”,
and my most common response and the one that The Kids now say “two months”.

The truth is that he did live long enough to matter and, he wasn’t sick at all and, it wasn’t supposed to end this way but he didn’t live two months. He lived nine days.

It’s this last answer and the fact that I lie about it that I have a problem with.

I don’t know why I have feel the need to lie. I mean, anyone that reads this blog can do the math. The only people that I’m fooling are The Kids and I don’t want them to think that nine days isn’t long enough. Because, while it isn’t long enough (anything short of a lifetime is too short), Alexander’s life lasted nine days long and no matter what I or anyone else says, his life mattered.

So, from now on when I’m asked “How old was your son when he died” I’ll stand tall and proudly say “Nine beautiful days”.

Do You Ever Hear Something Else?

* Replace “who has lost” with “with autism”.
** I do agree with any questions that are intended to consciously hurt a person dealing with the loss of a child, however, I’ve only encountered that once in 5.5 years.

42 thoughts on “What I Really Hear When You Ask Me About the Loss of My Son #loss

  1. René

    The truth is always good enough, no need to lie to anyone, ever. #9beautifuldays indeed. RIP Alexander

  2. Doris Calvert

    I will never know the loss of a child, 9 days, 9 hours or 90 years but I can’t even imagine the pain, and in truth he was here for 9 months and 9 days because I am assuming the love starts from day 1 of pregnancy? I had a parrot I bought and I guess he was sick he died in a week and I was heart broken so much so when they offered me another one I declined. In no way am I comparing you son or a human being but it’s all I know, I just can’t even imagine your pain,to lose a child in a minute, an hour or 9 days the instant love and bond is there. All that matters is how you felt and honestly if some don’t think it was long enough, there opinion does not matter because what kind of person are they? Hugs to you and I am so sorry you felt that sort of pain I can’t even imagine.

  3. Christy Maurer

    Even if he had only lived 9 minutes, he is your son…you love him! I was very young when my mom lost my baby brother/sister (my mom didn’t want to know) at a little over 5 months gestation. I remember being in the car driving to the hospital and she was crying and saying that the baby was coming. It is still a loss. No one can tell you how to feel and or how to grieve or how long to grieve! You’re a great mom to 3!
    Christy Maurer recently posted…Pitch Perfect 2 & Taylor Swift: SFS Part 2My Profile

  4. Debbie S.

    The amazing Mom you are I am sure those nine days were filled with such a strong love for your son. Don’t feel you have to lie and if people judge that is their problem, and ignorance. Hugs

  5. Elva Roberts

    We lost a grandchild to SIDS at 41/2 months and the time never mattered. For many years, the pain on that day was so bad. It was our child’s little girl and she would be as precious if she had lived one day, plus the time in her Mother’s womb
    It is easier now but I see two pictures of her always; as she was then and what I think she would look like now. I find other Mothers with losses like ours relate easily and they are the only ones I discuss this pain with.

  6. Elizabeth Matthiesen

    No mother (nor father) should ever lose a child no matter how old that child is. The pain is so hard to cope with and never goes away that child will always be loved and missed. Hugs for you Sarah.

  7. Laurel

    Beautiful post S! I’m so glad that you shared this. Im hugging you right now! I want you to know that I understand. I get it.

    For years I lied about my parents not being alive as I didn’t want the attention or to make others feel bad. Also I did feel judged – not the same way- but the measurement of my situation and its impact on me judged by others.
    Huge hugs!
    Laurel recently posted…Sometimes, like todayMy Profile

  8. Jaymi

    Hugs Sarah,
    Thank you for writing this. I can relate more than I would ever want to. My son was born asleep, i never got to hold him while was alive, i never got to see his eyes open, hear his noises, or feel him warm, but I can tell you that his death ripped me apart. It dosnt matter how long our arms hold them. they are in our hearts forever, from the moment we realise that were pregnant, they are our child, and to lose that, whether it was after a minute, a week, a year, or in my case, in no time at all, is a devastating loss.

  9. Heidi c.

    The most important part is what is in your heart and you know that you loved Alexander from the moment you knew he existed. Whether he was alive outside of you for twenty seconds, a few days or a few years, he was your child and I am sure that he knew that he was wanted and cherished.

  10. Elaine Buonsante

    My heart just goes out to you…I myself wrestled with very difficult emotions for a very long time after a partial miscarriage. I apparently had a multiple pregnancy and was left with one little baby that I was able to carry to term. Today he is 29 years old and he is the light of my life!

  11. Carla

    Sarah my heart hurts for you. Loss is loss no matter how long and no matter who. There is no standard measure of grief . After several miscarriages, I have learned that my heart yearns for those babies just as much as if they had lived and I had held them. Loss and grief are a personal journey. Your beautiful child will always be a part of your family and hold a special place in your heart. HUGS xoxoxo

  12. Cheryl

    I think taking about it helps us heal. Not that one can ever fully heal for the loss of a child. Hugs to you and thanks for sharing your story.

  13. Theresa Bertuzzi

    This brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful. I just want to give you such a big hug. I don’t think there is any pain greater than losing a child and it is my personal biggest fear. Xox.


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