Week 14

Forever In My Heart Friday. She’s my daughter and she’s dead.
I’ve never liked using terms like “passed away” or “passed” instead of died. I know lots of people much prefer those words, but I am a direct kind of person. My oldest daughter is dead. She died 14 weeks ago today. She was 18.
I don’t know what she would have become, but I know who she was. When I hear her name it makes me smile. My daughter’s name is Myesha. I love hearing people say her name; I wish they’d say it more often. I love seeing her name on her possessions, including (inexplicably) her junk mail that I continue to hoard. I even like seeing new spam sneak into her inbox, or Facebook posts on her wall from friends that miss her. Former classmates and friends often recognized me. “Are you Myesha’s mother?” Those words make my soul sing. Her name: Thank you! Reference to me as her mother: Thank you! Use of present tense: Yes, I am Myesha’s mother –- always will be. But deep down inside I can’t help but wonder….
IS THIS REALLY MY LIFE?
Only a parent understands the powerful bond you have with your child; that absolute undying love you have and that monumental desire that roars like an open fire inside you to protect that child at all costs. It is openly said that a parent will lay down their life for their child, but it is not until you have your own that you truly understand these fierce emotions. Parenting is wearing your heart on the outside of your body. Whatever you imagine it might be like to have your child die, multiply that by about a trillion and you’re probably not even close.
It doesn’t matter. I still ask myself what I should have done differently, as if there were some winning strategy I was too stupid or blind or arrogant to see. I tell myself that I did everything possible, but I feel a profound sense of failure. This is the guilt surviving parent’s bear. Why did she die? Did I not pray hard enough, or fervently enough, or offer enough of a sacrifice? How can I live with myself, knowing I failed to save her? Parents are supposed to protect their children, even at the cost of their own lives.
Society often tries to be accepting of this unbearable sadness and people are supportive and open to talking about it. However, in my situation, I also find it necessary to be able to talk and, most of all, be able to talk openly. I’ve found it’s the only thing which dispels the trauma. The truth is, the situation is so unbearably sad that it becomes incredibly emotionally draining.
I will, for the sake of all the other parents out there with empty arms, share a few things I wish people knew about the loss of a child. Maybe one of these points might make a difference to a bereaved parent’s life.
1. I still get up every day with the exact same sadness I had the day Myesha died. The only difference is I’m more skilled at hiding it and I’m much more used to the agony of my broken heart. The shock has somewhat lessened, but I do still find myself thinking I can’t believe this happened. I thought that this only happened to other people.
2. Please don’t tell me that all you want is for me to be happy again. Nobody wants that more than I do, but it’s something that can only be achieved with time. On top of that, I have to find a new happiness. The happiness I once felt, that carefree feeling, will never return in its entirety. It also helps to have the patience and understanding from loved ones.
3. Please don’t say ‘I want the old Crystal back!’ Crystal’s not coming back. This is who I am now. If you only knew the horror I witnessed and endured you would know it’s not humanly possible for me to ever be the same person again. Losing a child changes who you are. My views on the world have changed, things that were once important are not now and vice versa. By the way there is nobody that misses the “old Crystal” more than me!!! I’m mourning two deaths here; my daughter’s and my former self.
4. It’s not healthy to cry in front of the kids? You’re wrong. It is perfectly healthy that they see I’m sad their sister has died. When someone dies it’s normal to cry. What would not be normal would be for my children to grow up and think “I never even saw my Mom cry over Myesha’s death.” That would paint me in a light that would tell them it’s healthy to hide your emotions when obviously it’s not.
5. I still have 3 children, I don’t have 2. I won’t ignore Myesha as my child because she’s dead. Most people wouldn’t know that when I meet someone new I instantly become uncomfortable and filled with dread. I know at any moment when I engage in conversation the question is going to arise about my family and how many children do I have? I would love not to have to tell them. Life would be a lot easier if I could take that path. However, I do have another child. Her name is Myesha. She would now be 19, but she died when she was 18 years old. So personally for me, as much as I don’t want to tell someone I don’t personally know very well that my daughter is dead, the guilt of not acknowledging her is worse. Its pot luck what their reaction is going to be. There’s no telling what they’re going to say. 3 not 2.
6. There are still some days that I still want to hide away from the world and take a break from pretending everything is oh so wonderful and I’m all better. Please don’t think I’ve thrown in the towel, or worse, actually be so thoughtless as to wonder what’s wrong with me. I’m grieving. It’s mentally exhausting, especially raising 2 children and on top of that maintaining a life that has so drastically changed. Unbeknownst to some, I’m dealing with not just my own grief, but my other children’s as well. What I’ve endured, losing my first born, has been so unimaginably horrific that I don’t think I would survive something like it again. What I have had to give emotionally to get through it has dwindled away all my mental strength.
7. Grieving for a child lasts until you see them again. It’s a lifetime. If you’re wondering how long your friend or family member might be grieving for, the answer is forever. Don’t rush them, don’t trivialize their sadness, don’t make them feel guilty for being sad and when they talk to you, open your ears and listen, really listen to what they’re telling you.
I’m broke – not broken – I’m broke emotionally. I’m angry about that. I’m probably very close to being as angry about that as I am about her death. I wish I wasn’t angry. Lord knows I don’t need another emotion but I don’t know how to not be angry at times. You trust the medical profession to care for your family and when they fail…..
You would think there are a lot of articles that raise awareness of the awful process associated with grieving for a child, but even stories from other parents are a rarity. The sad reality is there just isn’t enough said or printed. You seldom hear through the media about grieving for a child and the impact their death has on all the various people involved.
It can destroy relationships instantly, it can leave siblings hurt, confused and angry. Often siblings are too young to understand, they’re angry that their family is not the same. Losing their sibling is bad enough, but so much more is lost for these siblings that are never recognized.
You might hear about the gory details surrounding a child’s death in the media but that’s about all. There should be so much more written about this topic, and additionally it should be talked about more openly than it is. I’m disappointed not just for me but for all the other grieving parents in society that this topic is met with so much fear and silence.
The bottom line is people are uncomfortable with the situation and I really don’t know why. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of literature around, or perhaps that people simply don’t want to read it because it’s so awful and they don’t want to know someone they love and care about it experiencing so much agony. My feelings tell me it is such a horrific thing that most people don’t want to know about it. Maybe they fear through knowing so much they might become obsessed with their own children dying. Parents worry enough about their children already. Do they really need the added worry about knowing how your child died?
Without question, my daughter Myesha dying suddenly has been the worst thing that has happened in my 40 years here on Earth. I doubt that anything in my future is going to top it. Actually, just between us, I beg and plead with God on a daily basis that nothing ever does top that experience, but the truth is I just don’t know. I’m not a mind reader nor do I have a magic pair of glasses where I can see how the rest of my life will unfold. I know without having to hold a psychology degree that having those fears is normal.
I don’t write these Friday blogs for people to feel sorry me. I do it because GRIEF IS REAL. My daughter died on a Friday and sharing her life and legacy is all I have left.
I write them in hopes that someone who has experienced their own grief can feel a sense of comfort in knowing that they are not the only ones who feel this way. But all too often one doesn’t have the words to express all the emotions and feelings that come with it. That’s okay. Sometimes words are not needed. Just an ear to listen and arms to hug you when your words fail you.
Mommy loves you Myesha! FIM <3 F