The Unimaginable: Losing a Child, From the Perspective of One Who Hasn’t

I want to write about this. Not to compare or to say I understand. But to imagine, so I can somehow join with those in support and care and comfort to those that have. I know the loss of a spouse.   So I will start at that disconnect and write forward.

For me and anyone who has not lost a child, the loss of a child as a parent is unimaginable. And grief is the highest level of emotional, physical, and spiritual pain there is. I can only imagine when a parent loses a child the physical pain is akin to your heart burning from the inside out. There is an emotional layer to our physical form that becomes burned, scarred, and is no longer flexible . Grief over the loss of a child affects the eyesight, the brain, the heart, the lungs for one has lost part of their living DNA.  It hurts to breathe, to see, and to move at times.  Bereaved parents often say when my child died, a part of me died.  This perhaps, is the physical level of grieving the loss of a child.

I can imagine the emotional pain comes from the lack of the ability to hear their child’s sweet voice. We as parents can pick our child’s voice easily out of a noisy crowd.  Hearing their voice is very deep emotional connection for us. It’s primal in nature and is connected to our bodily functions such as our adrenals for flight or fight response, or our mind’s nature to protect and defend, our hearts to nurture and comfort, our eyes to see and help. The void lives here too. This connection from our emotional selves to our bodily systems never dies and one who loses that child feels the aching of this unused portion of their emotions for the rest of their lives, regardless if you have other children.

The imagery I see of the spiritual pain of losing a child is tragic for a parent. We all see the love and the light within our children. We feel their happy spirits and it in turn heals us and helps us to see the beauty in this world. When a child moves from physical form into God’s hands we acknowledge they are protected and loved and divinely embraced. We know we will see them again. But I believe this doesn’t always help a parent’s earthy movement forward after loss. The soul of a bereaved parent is left with a void that has a deep pain that no person who has not experienced this personally will ever understand, nor wants to. All we can do is offer our presence in their lives. Our love. Our support. Know that this void never leaves for these injured friends. We should give them a lifetime of understanding. A lifetime of love. And a lifetime of service to support them.

My prayer today is to hopefully connect and let you know we may not fully understand, but in love, we try.

Love and Light
Holly

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41 thoughts on “The Unimaginable: Losing a Child, From the Perspective of One Who Hasn’t

  1. Holly,

    Thank you for writing this! As you know I have unfortunately experienced the greatest loss, the loss of a child. My sweet Kelsie passed away Fenruary 14, 2013. When I lost her, I not only lost a daughter, a piece of my heart, an extension of my existence, but I lost my best friend. My life hasn’t been the same since. Nor will it ever be the same again. Things that were normal are no longer. Relationships have suffered. Relationships have even dissolved for no known reason. After losing Kelsie, over a year after actually another loss. A connection. A connection with the only thing I had left of my daughter. Her son. This is a different loss but still very devastating and hurts to the core. Why? I wish I knew. I know he remembers me. But being excluded from his life is striping me of showering my grandson with the love I have for him and for Kelsie. Being alienated from him is a double whammy. You have a great insight to loss. Yes, losing a spouse has to be devastating. This is something Inhave not experienced. But our losses connect us to each other and to many others. You are a profound writer and enjoy reading your journal. Thank you for this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shannon, My son passed away 2-9-16 & he had a son. My daughter adopted her brothers son. My daughter and I no longer talk. Therefore I don’t get to see my grandson. The pain that I feel since my son Eric’s death is unbearable and on top of that not seeing Landon my grandson is another heartache. How did you keep going? I’m deeply sorry for your loss of Kelsie and her son. I was shocked that someone else has also gone through a child passing and then not seeing their grandchild. Rachel

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  2. Thank you for writing this and trying to imagine this terrible loss. I’ve lost a son and it truly is life changing in a way I never thought imaginable. I write for alifeafterloss.com. If you are ever interested, I would be happy to write a guest post on any facet of this subject. Take care, and keep writing!

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  3. Holly,
    What beautiful words you have written that speak dearly to us who have had their child die. You are so right.
    “The soul of a bereaved parent is left with a void that has a deep pain that no person who has not experienced this personally will ever understand, nor wants to.” Thank you so much for touching on this. Best wishes on your journey..

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  4. Stuck and unable to move forward is where I am 21 mos after losing my husband of almost 44 yrs. I’m hoping this group can help me and that I can somehow be of help to others! 💔

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  5. This post is amazing! The words in it are definitely a reality for me. I lost my 10 year-old daughter almost 7 months ago, and even though I can function, there is that piece of me that’s gone. I can tell myself 100 times a day that I will see her again. I thank God for giving us eternal life so that I can see her again and that she will never be sick, but there are still so many times that I just want her back now! I miss more than I can explain, and I just want to hug her so bad that it’s hard to breath at times. I know I will never “get over” her passing. While I’m on this earth I will hurt amd long for her. Thank you for writing this. There so much truth in it, and conveyed in a way that is too difficult for me to even begin to try during this season of my life.

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    • I’m glad you can feel that there are others out there that can try to at least understand your grief. It’s only imaginable to me- I’m so sorry you lost your daughter. Please stay with Grief Anonymous and hopefully we can build a community of support here for people such as ourselves.

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  6. Thanks for writing this…I lost a Son 2 years ago to Suicide and there are so many stages to grief that one min. You think you are healing and the next you are a mess
    It is groups like this that help us keep growing and keeping them with us in a healthy way, life will never be the same, nor would I want it to be!!

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  7. Molly,

    Thank you for this post. I have heard many times in the last month “but it’s been 11 years! Surely you have gotten past this!”. No, I haven’t. I still can hear his voice in my Mom’s ears, I can still see him walking down the street on the way to his friends house. My Cliff was a victim of a brutally violent murder, and I will carry his loss, and the insane lack of reason for it my whole life. There are times when taking the next breathe is so hard I have to force myself to breathe.
    My spirit has lost a piece of itself, and my body cries out for him daily. My brain cannot fathom life without him, and yes, it has been 11 years. I have lost everything to this horrible disease called grief.

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  8. Holly it is impossible for you to even imagine what it is like to lose a child. No one that has not lost a child can ever fully understand it. I also will say I never do want you to fully understand it or anyone else. Someone that has lost a child cannot find comfort in a regular grief groups. They need to be in a grief group of people that also lost children. I tried regular grief group when my 16yr old daughter died and it made me angry hearing people tell there stories of how there spouse, grand parent, or parent died………..I did not belong there.
    Losing a child is not losing your past, we lost our future. There are so many articles written by grieving moms on the internet that are helpful with learning what to do/say and what not to. When you lost a child not part of you dies, whoever the mother or father were is gone for good, we people totally different people that no one around us knows anymore, actually we dont even know ourselves anymore. On 8/16/16 it became 6yrs of my daughters death and we learn to get on, not move on. We become Oscar award winning actors in front of people, because others can not handle who we have become. A lot of us (including me) lose their faith.
    I have just re read what I have wrote, and I sound bitter…………I guess I am. My daughter died cause our medical industry rather save money than save lives. We all are bitter on how our child died, weather accident,overdose,suicide, anyway………..but we do not judge each other……….no matter what we were robbed and our child was robbed of our futures.

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    • I would never attempt to think I know. This was my best attempt to imagine and to show that I’m trying to understand. There are those of us out there who want to be there for grieving parents. And I understand your anger and honestly your bitterness. If being in a group or online with others makes you upset – there is Compassionate Friends designed specifically for parents who have lost children. Maybe they can help you. Here’s wishing you peace and hopes that you can one day be authentic around others and get the support and understanding you need.

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      • Oh Holly I am sorry, I was not being bitter with you. Nor was I implying that you thought you knew. I understand what you wrote, and I was saying how I know a lot of us feel cause you said you wanted to understand it. Compassionate friends I know well and made so many internet friends from it and we all belong to a closed group where we help each other.
        I was trying to say I would never want you to feel the pain of it. Again I apologize if you thought the bitterness was towards you, its not it bitterness from losing her. That is another thing we say things that come out the wrong way now and we also hear things the wrong way. It also does not help that her anniversary just passed, no matter how long you always relive that horrible day that you can never fix.

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      • Darling Laura. I knew you weren’t bitter with me. You’re bitter at what life has given you after a lifetime of being a good person. And always giving back and being a good mom. Why would this happen to you? How did you deserve it? The answer is that you didn’t. You didn’t deserve the pain you are being put through right now and it’s made you lose faith. I think or hope I understand. Seek out people in your life who are empathic like me. We feel, see, and understand more than the average Joe because we pick up on people’s emotions well. They will find you. Don’t lose hope in humanity yet. There are better days ahead for you. Right now you need to feel this anger. But don’t stay there for your own health. You truly are deserving of happiness and a peace in your heart. Try to do good things for you to feel better. That’s a start.
        Nothing you said here I took personally. I want to be able to understand.
        Have a good evening!

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      • I lost my son as well – Feb. 8, 2014 ~~ It is unimaginable – Laura you did not sound bitter – your words were just the truth…there are a many groups for parents that have lost a child..that is where we need to be because our grief is worst than the bowels of hell, and there is no one else that could EVER understand that. There will never be days of not acting, people don’t want to see that the pain is still there – for some I know 20-30 years later, the pain, the acting it’s all still the same. We are not bitter at what life has given, we are bitter for what life we will never have. While grief lasts forever, people sympathy and empathy are short lived. They want the person you were back, when that person will never return again. Picking out people that are like you?? Yes you seem to have empathy, but your most vivid imagination won’t even begin to come close…. … being around people that thank god can NEVER know our pain, don’t understand the triggers, some will except it, almost all won’t so we have secondary losses. And please do not take this as being critical, but for me – so many of the things you wrote, are all the clichés we have to constantly listen to and hate hearing ….there are better days ahead…um no there are not, there are days that will not be as bad, but they will not be better – and hearing that – is like the you need to move on crap…Our own health…there is another one…we have to try to remember to just breath…there is no true happiness again, or peace in our hearts and there never will be again. It’s not part of our DNA – it’s part of pour soul, our spirit. Try to do good things…. blah blah blah blah…. same old clichés You will never be able to understand….so please just don’t try – it’s pointless. And before you go to one of the other clichés – yes I am in a support group – more than one.. he is my son…and for me, trying to live up to all those clichés is exhausting…and so belittles the love I have for him. For me this pain, this deep, intense, unimaginable pain, mirrors the love I have for him…and that will never change. So just stop trying to understand, and I pray you will never have the opportunity to.

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    • I am so sorry for your loss and sadly I CAN say I do understand completely.
      My 20 year old daughter was ran over and killed by one of her friends on 1/4/15 while goofing around at the friends birthday party. She was allegedly riding on the hood of the girls car and slid off, being ran over and then BACKED over as her friend fled the scene before authorities arrived due to not having a drivers license, car insurance and possibly alcohol consumed at the party.
      My daughter called me immediately after the accident and told me good bye and for ME not to blame nor allow anyone else to blame the friend for killing her. I spoke with her for 6 minutes and 47 seconds, the time it took for another friend to drive her to the closest hospital. She was put into a medically induced coma due to the horrendous internal injuries she sustained by being ran over TWICE by a 3000 pound automobile. What actually killed her is the fact that she began swelling from her injuries and retained 23 liters of fluid which the hospital she was at did not have the medical equipment to keep her blood oxygenated after she swelled so badly the tube in her lung’s had to be removed because the actual tube that was breathing for her began suffocating her. The closest hospital that did have the equipment is over a hundred miles from where we were and she could not have survived the trip not even by Life flight, the hospital helicopter according to the doctors. She lived for 14 hours but her 6 minute 47 second phone call, the call I can hardly remember because I want to so badly but also can never forget because it was a mother’s nightmare come true.
      There are no words to explain how it feels to lose a child and I mean HONESTLY words cannot express a feeling you never knew existed before you felt it. A combination of hurt, anger, love, hate, blazing hot but freezing to the core and a hundred others entertwined into one stinging, never ending agony.
      I will keep everyone here in my prayers

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      • Thank you for sharing. It’s very important that we talk about these subjects because there are those who like myself try very hard to understand in order to share empathy with you. We know we will never reach the same level of understanding. As well as those who lose a true soulmate. There is true profound loss in so many levels. The best we can do is do our best to empathize and care.

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  9. My son Matt drank himself to death a little over 2 years ago and the pain and grief are often as great now as when I got that awful phone call. My sense of the world changed that day and I am forever different. It is, as someone else said, sometimes hard to breathe or just to get out of bed. The best friends are the ones that stay close and don’t try to “fix” me. I cannot be fixed. Time does not lessen the grief. If fact, I think the second year has been harder than the first. I have one text from Matt that he sent me 3 days before he died that I cherish. He was happy and optimistic but his demons were too great and they won the struggle he lived with for a long time. The last words we said to each other were “I love you” and I’m grateful for that. I still cry without warning and physically ache from this great loss. I try to live life because I don’t want his death to define me but it is a constant struggle.

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  10. Thank you for your piece. I feel emotional upon reading this..its true my life will never be the same again after my 14 years old daughter left me 2 years ago. Trying to move on because i still have my 2 children to look after to..i come to realize i havent move on ..im still griefing …still painful.. LOrd help me to. I cant function well wherever i go whatever i do i breakdown.. please help me..

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    • Ruth – I am so very sorry for your loss. You will always be grieving and that’s ok…a great group online is Helping Parents Heal, they have meetings online and nation wide…don’t think about moving on – I know I haven’t – but I have moved a little bit forward.

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  11. I lost my 36 year old daughter to cancer 5 years ago. It seems like yesterday. My grief is always with me. I hurt as much today as I did the day she died. I have two granddaughters that are not allowed to talk about her at home because their father has married the woman he was seeing as his wife was dying. They ask so many questions that I feel I can’t answer honestly.
    Grief does not have a time limit and seeing your child dying in front of your eyes is so hard. She fought this battle for over 3 years. She was my only child and I will forever grieve for the life she might have had. The life with her daughters.

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  12. I believe you understand. There are a lot who do not. I have been asked. Well do you have other children. Yes I do. I treated them all as individuals. They weren’t born as one. I can’t even understand that question. They think since you have other children it lessens the pain of losing that child? Good grief. We are becoming so disconnected with our spiritual emotions.

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    • I’m doing all that I can so that we all reconnect spiritually. And really- no one who has never experienced grief can even understand it much less losing a child. I am only a little closer because I know grief. And I have a son who’s grieving his father. So I try. And thank you for saying I understand. I really want to.

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  13. Thousands of other parents are appreciative that someone it’s trying. I find your anger off base. You cannot live on an island with just other parents. You have to live in the real world. Try not to be so nasty.

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    • Holly….I don’t know if this blog is still being monitored…just found it today and want to say thank you…I am in my second year of losing my only child to an overdose and it has only gotten harder but I refuse to be a victim of grief….I understand where this woman is …but it is a choice I have 5sadlyseen many on groups for ‘parents who have lost children’ .. make….I call it ‘taking one for the team’ the team of one who is left behind and the other who has gone on.
      It takes a lot of courage to do the work to heal…thats why its called ‘grief work’
      She is flying her banner of grief high for all to see…do not take it personnally…hopefully she will choose at some point to move through her grief to a healtheir place…we NEVER get over the pain of losing a child …but we can learn to live life on life’s terms again and find some joy
      Thank you for all you do

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