The Unbearable Weight of Loss: Overcoming the Pain of Losing a Child
My Story of Grief and Healing
Five years ago, my life changed in the most devastating way imaginable. I lost a child. This was a heartbreaking and heartbreakingly unfair event which upended my life. Nothing could have prepared me for the painful emotions that followed, and the reality of the situation only hit me when I heard the doctors words. It felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest.
In the days and weeks that followed, I struggled to make sense of my emotions and cope with the loss. There were days where I could hardly get out of bed, and other days where I felt nothing but numbness. My world had been so drastically changed, and I felt completely alone in my grief. I couldn't help but question why this had happened to me, and why I had been denied the chance to raise my child.
It was 2018 and I was excited for my corner bathroom cabinet to arrive so I could create a custom vanity that I was making for our bathroom while my then wife was on her way to her 17 week doctor’s appointment for our 5th baby. I was unable to go with her due to not arranging a babysitter in time. My four children were happily playing in their room and occasionally coming out to help me with my project when I received a devastating phone call… “I need you to come to the hospital, they couldn’t find a heartbeat…” I will never forget the painful sobbs from my ex wife on the other end of the phone.
I hung up the phone and told my children that I needed to rush the hospital to take care of their mother and that I needed them to get into the van right away. On a regular day it would take them several times and consistent prodding to get them to be on their way, but this time was entirely different. They seemed to sense the urgency of the situation and by a miracle I only had to ask them once and they all quickly got into the van nicely and helped each other, even my two year old daughter. I look back now and it was as if angels were helping me get them to where they needed to be as quickly as possible so I could manage the situation. I was able to drop my children off at a friend’s home while I was at the hospital when they did another ultrasound to double check to see if they could find a heartbeat.
As I am driving to the hospital all I can think about is that my baby is gone and wondering if my wife is going to be okay. This is uncharted territory and something that I don’t know how to handle. When I arrived at the hospital and found my wife I wrapped my arms around her and held her she and we wept with uncertainty as we contemplated what the technician would find in the ultrasound. As we sat in the lobby of the hospital my wife and I discussed what we would do if they couldn’t find a heartbeat… “Do we try again for another baby?” “If we do try again, when do we try again?” Many other questions came up as we sat there wait for the registration lady to call us up.
The time for the ultrasound came… as my then wife laid there on the hospital bed, I eagerly watched the monitor as the technician put the jelly on my wife’s stomach with the ultrasound device. When the image of the lifeless baby came up my heart sank deep into my chest… before the technician confirmed that there was no heartbeat I knew that she couldn’t see one. We had had four children before this, I felt like an expert on ultrasounds by this point. I knew what a beating heart on an ultrasound looked like and I knew this beautiful baby, now lifeless, had no heartbeat. Even still I didn’t want to worry my wife just yet, I wanted the technician to be the one to speak the horrific news.
Finally, the technician told us what we were waiting to here, confirming the death of our 5th child. We broke into terrible tears as she fell into my arms. At this moment I just didn’t know what to feel. The emptiness overcame me and I didn’t know what to think or how to feel except lonely and empty from the loss of this beautiful thing that once was living, now confirmed dead.
Losing a child is one of the most devastating things a person can experience. It changes you in ways you never thought possible and leaves a hole in your heart that can never be filled. The journey of grieving is never easy, and it's okay to feel overwhelmed by the emotions that come with it. Sharing my personal story about losing my child has been cathartic and has allowed me to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences. I hope that by sharing my story, others who are grieving will feel less alone and know that it's okay to feel the pain and to take their time healing. Grief is a journey and it's important to be patient with yourself and to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. We all heal in our own time and in our own way.