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7 Things I Have Learned Since the Loss of My Child

Child loss is a loss like no other. One often misunderstood by many. If you love a bereaved parent or know someone who does, remember that even his or her “good” days are harder than you could ever imagine. Compassion and love, not advice, are needed. If you’d like an inside look into why the loss of a child is a grief that lasts a lifetime, here is what I’ve learned in my seven years of trekking through the unimaginable.

1). Love never dies.
There will never come a day, hour, minute or second I stop loving or thinking about my son. Just as parents of living children unconditionally love their children always and forever, so do bereaved parents. I want to say and hear his name just the same as non-bereaved parents do. I want to speak about my deceased children as normally and naturally as you speak of your living ones.

I love my child just as much as you love yours– the only difference is mine lives in heaven and talking about about him is unfortunately quite taboo in our culture. I hope to change that. Our culture isn’t so great about hearing about children gone too soon, but that doesn’t stop me from saying my son’s name and sharing his love and light everywhere I go. Just because it might make you uncomfortable, doesn’t make him matter any less. My son’s life was cut irreversibly short, but his love lives on forever. And ever.

2). Bereaved parents share an unspeakable bond.
In my seven years navigating the world as a bereaved parent, I am continually struck by the power of the bond between bereaved parents. Strangers become kindreds in mere seconds– a look, a glance, a knowing of the heart connects us, even if we’ve never met before. No matter our circumstances, who we are, or how different we are, there is no greater bond than the connection between parents who understand the agony of enduring the death of a child. It’s a pain we suffer for a lifetime, and unfortunately only those who have walked the path of child loss understand the depth and breadth of both the pain and the love we carry.

3). I will grieve for a lifetime.
Period. The end. There is no “moving on,” or “getting over it.” There is no bow, no fix, no solution to my heartache. There is no end to the ways I will grieve and for how long I will grieve. There is no glue for my broken heart, no exilir for my pain, no going back in time. For as long as I breathe, I will grieve and ache and love my son with all my heart and soul. There will never come a time where I won’t think about who my son would be, what he would look like, and how he would be woven perfectly into the tapestry of my family. I wish people could understand that grief lasts forever because love lasts forever; that the loss of a child is not one finite event, it is a continuous loss that unfolds minute by minute over the course of a lifetime. Every missed birthday, holiday, milestone– should-be back-to-school school years and graduations; weddings that will never be; grandchildren that should have been but will never be born– an entire generation of people are irrevocably altered forever.

This is why grief lasts forever. The ripple effect lasts forever. The bleeding never stops.

4). It’s a club I can never leave, but is filled with the most shining souls I’ve ever known.
This crappy club called child loss is a club I never wanted to join, and one I can never leave, yet is filled with some of the best people I’ve ever known. And yet we all wish we could jump ship– that we could have met another way– any other way but this. Alas, these shining souls are the most beautiful, compassionate, grounded, loving, movers, shakers and healers I have ever had the honor of knowing. They are life-changers, game-changers, relentless survivors and thrivers. Warrior moms and dads who redefine the word brave.

Every day loss parents move mountains in honor of their children gone too soon. They start movements, change laws, spearhead crusades of tireless activism. Why? In the hope that even just one parent could be spared from joining the club. If you’ve ever wondered who some of the greatest world changers are, hang out with a few bereaved parents and watch how they live, see what they do in a day, a week, a lifetime. Watch how they alchemize their grief into a force to be reckoned with, watch how they turn tragedy into transformation, loss into legacy.

Love is the most powerful force on earth, and the love between a bereaved parent and his/her child is a lifeforce to behold. Get to know a bereaved parent. You’ll be thankful you did.

5). The empty chair/room/space never becomes less empty.
Empty chair, empty room, empty space in every family picture. Empty, vacant, forever gone for this lifetime. Empty spaces that should be full, everywhere we go. There is and will always be a missing space in our lives, our families, a forever-hole-in-our-hearts. Time does not make the space less empty. Neither do platitudes, clichés or well-wishes for us to “move on,” or “stop dwelling,” from well intentioned friends or family. Nothing does. No matter how you look at it, empty is still empty. Missing is still missing. Gone is still gone. The problem is nothing can fill it. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after heartbreaking year the empty space remains.

The empty space of our missing child(ren) lasts a lifetime. And so we rightfully miss them forever. Help us by holding the space of that truth for us.

6). No matter how long it’s been, holidays never become easier without my son.
Never, ever. Have you ever wondered why every holiday season is like torture for a bereaved parent? Even if it’s been 5, 10, or 25 years later? It’s because they really, truly are. Imagine if you had to live every holiday without one or more of your precious children. Imagine how that might feel for you. It would be easier to lose an arm, a leg or two– anything— than to live without your flesh and blood, without the beat of your heart. Almost anything would be easier than living without one of more of your precious children. That is why holidays are always and forever hard for bereaved parents. Don’t wonder why or even try to understand. Know you don’t have to understand in order to be a supportive presence. Consider supporting and loving some bereaved parents this holiday season. It will be the best gift you could ever give them.

7). Because I know deep sorrow, I also know unspeakable joy.
Though I will grieve the death of my son forever and then some, it does not mean my life is lacking happiness and joy. Quite the contrary, in fact, though it took awhile to get there. It is not either/or, it’s both/and. My life is more rich now. I live from a deeper place. I love deeper still. Because I grieve I also know a joy like no other. The joy I experience now is far deeper and more intense than the joy I experienced before my loss. Such is the alchemy of grief.

Because I’ve clawed my way from the depth of unimaginable pain, suffering and sorrow, again and again– when the joy comes, however and whenever it does– it is a joy that reverberates through every pore of my skin and every bone in my body. I feel all of it, deeply: the love, the grief, the joy, the pain. I embrace and thank every morsel of it. My life now is more rich and vibrant and full, not despite my loss, but because of it. In grief there are gifts, sometimes many. These gifts don’t in any way make it all “worth” it, but I am grateful beyond words for each and every gift that comes my way. I bow my head to each one and say thank you, thank you, thank you. Because there is nothing– and I mean absolutely nothing– I take for granted. Living life in this way gives me greater joy than I’ve ever known possible.

I have my son to thank for that. Being his mom is the best gift I’ve ever been given.
Even death can’t take that away.

~ Angela Miller

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Comments (126)

    • So True My Sons were older when they died But they were my babies My little toddlers learning to walk to talk to grow and go to school to go out into the world
      I always believed they would be here when I grow old Not necessarily hear to look after me Just to be in my life until the time. Came for me to leave this earth But they are not here they have gone before me to heaven it shouldn’t be like this but it is and I am lost
      Shane died 12 Nov 2014
      Jason died 17 Nov 2014 😥😥

      • My 18 year old son Alec was killed by a drunk driver a year and a half ago right before Christmas. I’m lost. I don’t know where to go from here.

      • I am with you Hillary. I lost my beautiful daughter Eliza 3 years ago and I’m completely broken-hearted. I am with you in spirit always. Love Barbara

      • I’m so sorry, I know the pain that you feel. I’m sending prayers and blessings 🙏, please pray for me too💧

      • My heart breaks for you. Losing a child demolishes a parent. Losing 2 is unthinkable. May god give you strength to go on in life. Don’t lose yourself. I tell myself this all the time. I lost my son Noah 1-16 -19. He completed suicide over a girl.

    • My beautiful granddaughter was murdered at 2 1/2 years old.
      Its been one year now, I go talk to someone, but I’m having a very
      tuff time. I miss her so much. There are times when I feel her next to me and
      then realize shes not with me. When I look at her photos, I’ll laugh and then the crying starts.
      Any suggestions from anyone?

      • Just know that your pain is shared by many who care deeply for your loss. I lost my child and it is unspeakable pain. Just know that you are loved and your grand daughter is shining her light on you Tina.

        Love Barbara

        • Truest words spoken Barbara. I just celebrated Christmas and it has been 30 years since my young Son died. This was the first Christmas I felt true joy and Peace around me without feeling the loss. On Christmas morning I looked across from where I was sitting and my eyes gazed at my 3 daughters and their husbands and my 3 granddaughters. I just felt so blessed. I was blessed by these men in my daughters lives. It was a shock to have a son after having 3 daughters. He was so loved. Then to lose him felt like the most wonderful gift was stolen from our arms. If he came by surprise and was such a gift then why did he have to leave? Those are the same questions we hear from others over and over. For myself I’ve come to know the answer. The answer for me isn’t why he had to die. But who am I now many years later because he did die.
          I am more empathetic to others. I care deeply about the life of a child. It has shaped me into a new version, a better version of my old self. Anyone would ask, so this had to happen by losing a child? I’d like to say no. But for me it happened this way. There’s a place for us in this life. People need us to care, empathize, guide and stand alongside them thru the difficult times. Thank you Barbara for your kind words to others 💜

      • So sorry for your loss. I found the second year after my son died the hardest. It has been six years now. Your grandchild was so young. Just know you are not alone in your pain that it’s ok to grieve and miss her.

      • My son was killed in a tragic accident that never had to happen if the lifeguard at the pool was doing his job . My situation is not like yours but the fact is we feel someone else caused it. My
        Prayers are with you. I would find it very hard not to lash out at the persons involved in your grand daughters death. I know some people will say you must forgive..well, not today!! You need to have a support group or counselor to just be there for you. Honor your anger. Break dishes against the wall. There will be some that won’t agree with this, but it does release some of the pain.
        I bought a bunch of dishes from the dollar store
        Praying that God will lift
        You up and guide you during the years to come!

      • Hello Tina, I’m so sorry for your loss. My son Jarad was in a terrible car accident. July 20, 2012 he went home to our Lord. I want to tell you after reading your post, I’m sure you are feeling your granddaughter… Look for the simplest of signs from her. My son always wore Axe cologne as he would say the Chicks dig it Mom. When I get home from work on some days I open the door to the house and I can smell it so I know he is visiting me. Or when I’m cooking I can smell Obsession perfume as my Mom and sister would wear it. Just know that she will let you know she is close by you will feel her in your Heart!! God bless you. Debby.

  • It’s been 39 years. I’m not ‘over it’. Like you say, There is no getting ‘over it’. Recently I found this Hopi prayer which became buried in my disorganized mess. A young Hopi woman was killed in one of the Iraq wars. The prayer was read at her funeral. I find it deeply touching. It’s almost as if my son is speaking to me. Do not stand at my grave and weep – I am not there I do not sleep – I am a thousand winds that blow – I am the diamond glint on snow – I am the sunlight on ripened grain – I am the gentle autumn’s rain – When you awaken in the morning hush – I am the swift uplifting rush – of quiet birds in circling flight – I am soft stars that shine at night – Do not stand at my grave and cry – I am not there – I did not die

    • A lawyer gave me a copy of that poem right after my 16year old son passed. I still keep it on my kitchen table and read it every day. It’s beautiful..

    • I love that poem…. It has been 39 years for me as well since I lost my first born daughter when she was 12. You absolutely never get over it….you learn to live with it.

      • We are almost parallel, we lost our daughter at age 12, 35 yrs ago to cancer. I talk about her all the time, she is always in my heart & thoughts. She was our first born, her brother was 9 yrs, old when she passed. I tell my granddaughter about her Aunt Melissa who would have loved her to pieces.
        As long as I am alive she will be remembered.

    • That;s basically what my mother had put on her gravestone when she passed, she also omitted the year of her departure, only the year of passing is there. Very beautiful poem.

    • Yes. My daughter picked that poem to be read at her celebration of life. Very fitting for one that loved and enjoyed nature so much.

    • There are no words to describe the loss and burying a child, in my case children. My son, Craig, died at age 8 in 1969. My twin girls, born April 11, 1964 came a bit early and Jami and Jill died on April 13, 1964. Everyone grieves differently and everyone handles the death of a child differently. My husband died 14-years ago today April 12, 2005. So for me, I watch the green grass grow and the flowers bloom in the spring
      and know that life continues. I hurt everyday and I cry everyday after all these years. God has given me peace and faith. That is how I live. Most have no idea what it feels like to lose a child and I pray they never go this and yes it takes a lifetime. Thank You for such a beautiful piece.

      • It does take a life time,

        It does take a lifetime. My son died as an adult. It hurts as much today as it did the day he died but I have learned to live with the grief and enjoy the memories of him. He became the great husband, father and son I hoped he would be. I love him more every day and always will.
        He has a beautiful wife and daughter who love him very much, as well. We know we will join him some day, and are living the life we have left.

        my son died af

        iy

    • That poem was sent to me after my son Jimmy had been killed in a car crash 34 years ago. It is printed under his graduation picture from high school. He was a senior when he died.

  • Angela,
    This is remarkable and beautifully said.
    I’m a grandparent who lost her infant granddaughter and everything you said applies to grandparents too. We also have to grieve for and with our child(ren) who lost theirs. It’s a double whammy but there’s a lot of wisdom in your words, for us too.
    Thank you,
    Vicki T

    • My words exactly Vicki – a double whammy watching my daughter and son-in-law grieve while not knowing how to comfort them. I don’t even know how to deal with my own grief. I don’t know what to say or do to help. My sweet 5 year old granddaughter can’t understand why her baby brother went back to heaven before she even knew him. Prayers for all of us.

    • Yes! I am a grandparent and feel this , it’s a double whammy, losing your grandchild and seeing your child suffering 💙

      • I know this pain as well! My precious grandson left us almost 15 years ago at the age of just 2😢. It was the worst pain ever to lose him but to see my daughter and son-in-law suffer and I couldn’t help them was awful! Your right about the life you have is so different after this grief! You live more deeply❤️ Thank you little Alex for that gift❤️ Miss you and love you till we are together again❤️

      • We lost Our Amazing Josh on 2-12-2019….7:12. My First Born Grandson…There are No Words, Just Second after Second Broken Hearts & Broken Lives. This is one time as a Mother, I watch my Daughter Grieve Her Beautiful Son, His Sister & Brother Grieve losing Their Wonderful Older Brother & Myself Every Single Minute of Every Single Day, Dying Inside because I Can Not Help Those I Love With All My Heart Not to Hurt. This Is A Pain So Deep that No One ” Gets Over It”. We Will Never Forget Josh, His Place in Our Lives Is Forever On Our Minds, In Our Hearts, Is Our World. We Will Forever be at 2-12-2019…7:12. A Brokenhearted Grandmother, Watching my precious Daughter & Her Family So Broken, Josh will always be with us, Everything we see, every song thats sung, every word that is spoken or not spoken, every beat of our heart, Josh is here Forever, along with the Pain of losing You. My heart will cry Forever. I Love You So Our Josh & I Love You So My Broken Daughter & Wes & Brea.

  • Finally, someone who understands. We lost our 50 year old son unexpectedly on Christmas Day 2013. I love Christmas in church, but I detest it at home. He and I had the same warped sense of humor, and while I can laugh with my remaining son and daughter, it’s not quite the same. It’s good but just not the same. I can’t wait to join him, but our daughter will be devastated, so here I am. The doctor has put me on an antidepressant but I don’t know that it really helps. Of course, I haven’t tried not taking them!

    • Simply…thank you.

      Colored wings of transluscent paper
      Could lift me up and carry me to you
      To the heavens where you live among the stars
      I would kiss your sweet face over and over
      You would dry my limitless tears
      With your delicate ivory hands
      Then bring your palms together
      Around my broken heart
      To make it whole again.
      Love, Your Mom Forever

      • That’s so beautiful. I meditate in the morning and I open my heart and and my beautiful girl climbs in and I hold her there with me all day and night.

  • Your words could not be more truthful! I am listening to the children from the most recent killings and my heart is hurting even more!
    I do wish people would not dismiss my son and my granddaughter’s passings. This is a grief that never leaves. I don’t force others to be part of that grief so I do not understand why some dismiss it as if it should be ‘over’.

    Thank you for your words

    • I agree with many of the comments made already. Yes, the loss never leaves. It’s been 8 years since I loss my son. Somedays I wake up in tears missing him so deeply. And, yes, while I did want to die for the first couple of years, I came to realize what that would do to my daughter and others. It was the thinking of a coward. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. Thank you for sharing. I stopped sharing for a while. I was just overwhelmed. I recently lost my husband of almost 45 years and even that doesn’t compare. Oh my!!! But life goes on, just differently. Thanks again. Be Blessed.

      • Be brave Janice and know there are others who carry your pain and would put their arms around you if they could. I certainly would. I lost my daughter 3 years ago and it’s so brutally hard to live without her

  • If I could I would put my arm around you, we would weep as one and it would be comforting. When this tragedy happened to us people with whom we had been close friends – disappeared. Other parents with whom we were not acquainted, whose children were friends with our son, came ‘out of the woodwork” in support. I have to confess that before it happened to us I didn’t know how to respond. I think that people are fearful that they might breakdown in tears. That would be the absolute best, kindest thing they could do. Hold you and shed tears with you. that would show how their hearts ached for you.

  • Thank you for these beautiful words. It’s been 27 yrs, and you have said what I wish so many would understand. Every time I mention my sons name people look at me like “aren’t you over this yet”. A few years ago someone ask me what it was like to loose a child. I thought about it for sometime and in my mind it is like a gigantic thunder storm. In the beginning there are the huge black clouds rolling and twisting every which way. As the years pass there is a little more sunshine creeping in. There will always be those black clouds on the horizon that are visible to the eye and felt in the heart.
    Thank you again for your words.

  • Reading this publication – no matter the article – makes me break down in tears. Then I want to copy to my Facebook profile so my friends and family will understand but they never will. They WANT to fix me and the advice never stops pouring ear. I have a dead ear to the world now and stay even more solitary in the empty spaces.
    If you are not on anti-depressants, I don’t see how. If there is a stigma, I don’t care. All I know is that without them, I would not be here today – I would have left a long time ago.

    • To Sherry……if you would “have left a long time ago”………it would cause to others the exact same grief that you are experiencing. Please don’t do that to someone you love.

    • My son suffered from severe depression and was being treated for it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t live with it and committed suicide. After reading the side effects of the medicines he was on which included thoughts of suicide, or suicide tendencies, I wouldn’t consider taking any anti-depression medicines.

  • Passing the Hopi Prayer along was comforting to me although I shed many tears as I typed it in. This is another tribute which I found somewhere, sometime along life’s pathway. I think the author was writing as a tribute to a friend who had died but it’s also as though the one who is gone is speaking to the living.
    I have been given to the winds – To fly forever – My soul is free of earthly cares – And I am one with the infinite God – Creator of the Universe – I am soaring on winds from the seas – The eternal skies hold me – As tenderly as life itself – Look for me in every sunset – Each awesome cloudless day – And star filled night sky – For I will be gliding – O’er the mountains with the eagles = Thank you for being my friend – I shall never forget you – You are with me – Whenever I need you – I am not alone – All is well with me – My heart is full of joy – I wish everyone peace – Follow your own path – We will surely meet again someday – And when that someday comes – We will fly together – Again.

  • I agree with most of your points, but I disagree that it cannot get better, that the pain cannot ease, and that you cannot learn to live with it better. There is tremendous help available. There are great therapists out there that can help and attend to your particular needs. We do not all grieve the same way. There is no magic formula. It’s a treacherous painful road, but you will come out a better person on the other side and you will learn to live your life with the pain. Eventually the pain will not overwhelm you as the positive memories will start to dominate. There is hope and there is much good you can still do on this Earth. So don’t ever quit. Your child is expecting great things from you don’t disappoint him!

    • Tony, thank you for embracing hope and possibility, for I, too, do believe that we all have the ability to heal our heartaches big and small, and 27 years after my son’s unexpected death following his delivery, I am so honored and proud to celebrate the time and life we had together.

  • My son, William, was mentally disabled all his 33 years so he had been constantly with us. I have grieved until I could not grieve anymore since 2015 when he died from colon cancer. Tomorrow would have been his 36th birthday! It is a hurt like no other and none can understand except those that have also walked this way. However, as the years pass, the sting of his absence lessens and my whole family can move on. Wish all that have lost a child, peace, and consolation from the LORD to face each new day.

    • We lost our Nicolas 10 months ago. He was 20 and he had severe cerebral palsy. He was such a pure, loving soul and I just can’t move on from the pain of his absence and the guilt of wandering what I should have done better. I do feel him and believe he is no longer suffering and is happy but that doesn’t stop me missing him

      • Dear Laura-
        I sometimes feel that this journey is wired for guilt and remorse. It is so upsetting to know that I will not grant myself one single consolation of having done something funny or beautiful or special with my daughter. I only have a bottomless reservoir of guilt over not having done the right thing or more of something or other. I suppose you could say that this is the measure of my love for her that I assume all this guilt. I loved her more than life itself and would gladly give my life in place of her’s.

    • We lost our Will a year ago last December. He was disabled as a result of brain tumors.
      He was the dearest young man and blessed our lives. He fought bravely for 26 years. We miss him every day.

  • Mike says, No one no’s what a parent mind goes threw after losing a child, the greif is like a fly that keeps coming back and landing on you; it never goes away like the love of the child

  • Thank you for sharing this. It has been almost six years since I lost my daughter to an accidental overdose. She had had numerous medical and emotional problems, but I know this was accidental. This was just before Narcan became a household world, and it hurts every time that word hits the news. It also hurts so much when people said to me – even before the first anniversary of her death – get over it! Now many people seem to ignore the fact she was ever here. What you have written is so well said. Thank you for it.

    • “Get over it “how rude they’ll never understand the loss of a child .it’s a worst thing in the world .people have no idea what it’s like until they’ve lost a child of their own that’s why we have a special bond between people who have lost a child. my niece asked me how I dealt with my parents funerals without freaking out it’s because I lost my child and after that you can manage anything, nothing seems mpossible, except the pain going away

  • Thank you for writing this. My beautiful son passed 2 years ago feb 15th. He was only 32. And although he did die as a result of poor lifestyle choices, it doesn’t make it any less tragic for me – the mother who loves him unconditionally and always will. You’re right; no one wants to talk about our loss – like “he is at peace and in a better place” and all that. And although that may be true, I still miss him every day – every.single.day.

    • Dear Jill,
      I am sorry for your loss and your son’s death. Sending you wishes for comfort, Neighbor. Please know that there are people who will talk and listen and please know that the first step in healing is to honor your grief. Be kind and gentle with yourself.

    • My son aged 33 has just died on March 8th. He too made poor lifestyle choices and his death is under investigation. Sometimes people only saw the drugs he took and forgot the person the drugs were hiding. I too have been guilty of seeing an addict and not a person. Luckily I realised this before he died and had time to be with him and laugh with him, go to the theatre, share a meal, do a pub quiz, visit a sick friend. Other days were exactly the opposite of this. I am so glad I had time with him. At the moment his death seems senseless as he was having such a good week. It could be months before they release the coroner’s report. I never understood before, why it mattered so much for families to have closure and to know the facts. Now I understand. I want every little detail. I visited him and could see he was at peace. I imagined that his spirit/soul had gone to the rainbow. We have had the funeral and now the grief is kicking me in a different way. I have amazing friends and a wonderful daughter and so many offers of dinners and walks etc. It does help. I have friends who have lost children to addiction, to post natal depression, even murder. I have always talked about their children using their names because in my mind and my heart, those children exist. I miss my son terribly – he had become my best friend, and I his. I wish strength for all bereaved parents everywhere. I can still look a beautiful tree in blossom and smile. That gives me strength.

      • I know I have more words, but right now I just thank you, so much, for sharing all of that. For reaching into your heart and sharing it with us. I’m struggling. I don’t know why I’m still here, alive, often, as potentially jerky as that sounds to some. I know many of you get it.
        It is so true that LOVE doesn’t die. I guess it’s like, how your heart gets bigger so you can completely love one child, then love two, and you don’t have to divide it. Your heart just can love 100% each person who is loved, if that makes sense.
        For a while, I thought I would be ok. That I would grieve, then i would take all of this huge amount of love that … i needed to give, somehow. It’s odd how grief is not a straight line. It’s 2 steps forward, 3 back some days.
        Anyway, thank you, and thanks also to everyone who shared their (story sounds wrong, hopefully you know what i mean) I want to *feel” better so I can still maybe do some good, but I still can’t make it to the shower most days. It was me & my daughter, and my parents. I wish i had more people or something. I want to still be who I was – but I’m not.

  • Your words touch my heart. My beautiful daughter has been in Heaven for over eight years. I see and feel her through every sunrise, sunset, beautiful birds, clouds in the sky, babbling brooks, fall leaves….. Yes, we do grieve, but we do feel the beauty of God’s love very deeply. From my heart to yours, big hugs.

  • Angela, the seven things you have learned since your son died are the seven things we all have had to learn, and hard lessons they are. Number three is the hardest for me, as holidays are absolutely brutal. It is mind boggling when I am among family members who loved my daughter yet they are in a celebratory state, enjoying the festivities, while I still don’t understand why she isn’t with me. Sometimes I feel like it’s a magic trick gone bad. While everyone eats or opens their presents for birthdays or Christmas, I am waiting for my daughter to just suddenly walk in the door to join us. I often feel like I have one foot in the “here and now” and one foot on another plane.

    Thank you for writing this.

  • Thank you for this beautiful article from Angela Miller. It highlights so much what all parents feel who have lost a child. My husband and I lost our son, Joseph, 29 years ago to SIDS. We will carry our love for him each day for the rest our lives.

  • Beautifully written. Thank you. Still feel very lost and alone. Can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that I will never again hear my son’s voice or see his smile in person. I would give all my tomorrows for that. All I have now are memories. The ache just never goes away.

    • Just please know how much you are cared for by other moms and dads who are feeling this pain with you. We know what you are going through and we carry you with us on our journey every single day.

      Barbara

  • Thank you, Angela, for your words. It has been four months since my son’s death and I wake up every day feeling empty and without purpose. I often wonder if I will ever feel joy again. You have given me hope that I will once again feel joy.

    • Diane,
      I am so sorry for your loss. I’m so happy for your moment(s) of hope as I can honestly tell you that you can do this and you can one day feel light and joy, again. Honoring your grief is the first step in healing, so please remember that it’s okay to not be okay. Here if you need me, Neighbor.

  • It’s been 5 years that we lost our Andy, This truly hits home for me. We miss him every minute of every day. Love never dies.
    Thank you for sharing you thoughts with us. I would like to see if our local paper would print it, is that ok?
    Being Andy’s mom is the best gift I’ve been given also. Thank you

  • your words are so very true…i will never get over losing my precious daughter and then 3 yrs later losing her little angel that she had left behind…my comfort is in knowing i will see them again! The pain never goes away…we learn to “live with it” but grief has no time frame…it becomes part of who we are…hopefully, we can be of some help to those around us who are also on this journey…just knowing someone understands helps so much!

  • I am counting the days when my son will be thirty years old. March 1 is his birthday. How do you celebrate the birth of someone who has passed. I gave every member of my family a dragonfly necklace to wear on the day he passed and his birthday. This is our way of celebrating Dan. Two years ago on January 27 we lost my son. Every minute of every day is both painful and happy. I will not let anyone forget him. This is how I honor his life and legacy.

  • It’s ten months since my beloved son only 33, died unexpectedly in his sleep. I find myself crying at the oddest times and look for signs of him everywhere. I too, will grieve til the time I take my last breath and hopefully be reunited with him. I think I still can’t believe it some days. I babysit his two year old and worry what the future will bring with her and her mother. It’s a painful journey and I force myself to find some joy in life.
    God bless you all!

  • I, too, lost my son (well, nearly!) 7 years ago. for some reason, his birthday this year was particularly hard. But I knew what to do to start to feel better…a mile swim and a walk in the woods. That is one of the “gifts of grief” that the author mentions. I now appreciate nature (particularly walks in woods) so much more now than I ever did. I knew my spirit needed the healing wisdom of the trees on that difficult day.

    People do NOT understand what it’s like to lose a child.

    It helps to know that others also know that we will never get over this, and that we will grieve for the rest of our days.

  • I remember going to my very first Compassionate Friends Candle Lighting Ceremony. There in the row in front of my husband, daughter, mother and I were an elderly couple. I told my husband that we were going to be that couple for the rest of our lives. I felt a peace during that first service but I also felt that this is a place that I don’t want to belong. I think of my son just like you said, every day, every moment. I think those of us who have lost a child are more compassionate to those people that think we should get over it. I am sorry if they feel out of place when I talk about my son but I listen when you talk about yours. There is no difference, my son will always be a part of my life forever and I will not stop saying his name or sharing my stories, he is important to me. He made a difference.

  • I lost my 23 year old daughter 6 months ago. I am so heart broken I can barely function. I am out of my mind with grief! I am seeing a counselor and am on medicine, but the future looks so very bleak. How do I hang on?

  • Your words and thoughts are so well put together and written. I have been on this journey of grief for 8 1/2 months and everything you said resonates with me so much. Thank you for sharing from your soul to help others who need to hear those words and know in the end we can find that joy and be a light for our lost child.

  • Yes.i have that prayer too. That young woman’s death touched me very deeply and the prayer is starkly beautiful. If I can ever get myself to put up a gravestone for my Branden I’d like to get permission to put it on there. He’d get it and approve. Thank for posting

  • This is beautifully written. Thank you, your words and thoughts has touched my heart. I have been grieving for 1 year now. I lost my beautiful handsome son on 11/7/16 at 7mths old. Everything is still fresh and new to me.

  • Thank you for putting so many of my very own thoughts in one collection! You really hit the mark…and I, too am sorry we are part of this same “crappy club”. It is almost 13 years since my daughter, Carly, died in a motorcycle accident. She was 27, on her own bike, in her own lane. An oncoming driver came left of center and killed her. I am told she died instantly – the only blessing – if I had to find one. No citations or charges were filed, even after we had it investigated. I live with the loss and the injustice of it all. Worst of all, I miss her big blue eyes, shining smile and raucous laughter everyday – the physical part of her. I have to be satisfied with many great memories. The kind and loving person she was lives in my heart and mind forever. I wish your letter could be read by all of the people we have to deal with each days. I would wear it as a sign for them to read! I have become more kind and compassionate to others and more tolerant, too. You never know what someone else is dealing with.

  • I lost my daughter almost 6 months ago. I’m sick with grief. Especially at night, when everyone and everything gets quiet. That seems to be the hardest time for me recently. I hear people say, oh I lost my Mom or Granddad, uncle, etc. I’m sorry, but it does NOT even come close to the pain of losing your child. That’s just my opinion, I know. But this is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.

  • I lost my son nine years ago, to a sudden illness. I write that, but I can hardly believe it. He was 29. My only child. I loved him so, so very much. There’s a way in which I’ve gotten better – I’ve gotten better at living with the pain. And there’s a way I am forever stuck in the moment of his death – the pain is unceasing and never lessens.

    I miss him, I miss him, I miss him. I love him now as always. Here I am, nine years later, sleepless, searching for relief from the internet, just as I did those first few weeks.

    It does help, to feel understood. Thank you.

  • I lost my son 3 years ago in a fire on the farm. don’t tell me to get over it, I am the one that lost not you, you don’t understand loosing a child. Don’t tell me to not cry, instead stand back and let me cry, I need to release my feelings. don’t tell me you know how I feel when you have not lost a child. there is no feeling to compare to.

  • I lost my 34 year old son in August of 2017. His last words he mouthed was “I love you” to me. I will never forget it. I have been going to grief share and watching the video clips not I am going thru the classes again with the same videos and discussions trying to search for meaning, hope , and cope with my grief. I was a single parent for thirty years and he had no relationship with his father since he was four. Reading books, articles, going to church, trying to heal but I know I never will really ever get over it.

  • my daughter has been gone 27 years that is as long as she was with us but the hurt never goes away the 7 things you learned is so true and it is so beautifully written God bless you

  • He was my son -in-law. Drugs took him from our family and this world. ” I started smoking marijuana in high school, in the band, Mom, ” my dear son-in/law confessed as he was beyond turning back from drug balancing to try to find peace from his habits which by then had cost him his self esteem, his family and his job as well as many friends. He lied, he stole, he did everything wrong and found no comfort from his addictions. When he was dying from a motor cycle accident, he refused drugs. The doctors hoped to save him by putting him into an induced coma because of his brain injury. It was too late. He left behind two beautiful little girls. He left behind all of us who loved him and always will. That’s the thing about love. It is unconditional.

  • Perfectly stated. I hope someday to find that joy you speak of. As for now, surviving is all I can do. Putting on a fake smile & one foot in front of the other.

  • I lost my son 8 months ago on August 13th, 2018. My heart goes out to all of you as I know all the feelings you have described.He was 54 yrs. old. I was 80 when he left us. I want to be with him. I miss him and love him and have a hole inside me that cannot be filled. I would not be here were it not for Jesus holding my hand and comforting me. People don’t know what to say, so they don’t say anything. They don’t say his name. I tried medication, but it made me feel strange and not myself, so I do it on my own. I never know when a meltdown will occur, but lately they are less. I have come out of the fog stage now and everything is real, and he is gone. His smile, his fabulous smile – I miss it so. God bless all of you. Don’t forget. There are those who understand. We are experiencing the same. And don’t forget. Jesus’ Mother went through this, also. She watched as her son left, just as many of us watched as our sons and daughters took their last breath. I did. How I wish I could have traded places with him. I would have in a minute. God bless all of us. And lean on Him. He understands.

  • I lost my child Naomi 3 years ago. She was 26. She would of been 30 this October 2019. Oh how i miss her. The nights are the worst. Thankyou for spreading some light and joy. We all dont want to be in this situation but we learn to live with it. I do believe one day i will see my girl again. She was my first born child and i miss her so so much. 💛

  • I’m so thankful to Angela Miller for these words. And thankful to Debra Reagan for tagging me on FB. Just now I’m writing a talk to give at church on Easter Sunday. Now I’ll be braver about sharing how hard and sad and beautiful it can be to have this experience. Above all it has made me thankful to have ever had Anthony in our life. And he’s still in our life. Love Madeline.

  • My son was 25 when he took his own life. That has been 30 years ago this June. I relive that day over and over. I can say he is on my mind all the time. My heart breaks for those who are going through the death of a child. No matter what age it is a pain that will never go away. I did the chair person in our town for Compassionate friends. For those searching for help seek out this group in your area. It is a blessing to be able to gather together with others who need the comfort and understanding. I miss my son every day of every year. His birthday is Sunday the 14th of April. Just a few days away. Love to all.

  • I know exactly how you feel Kathy I lost my only daughter to cancer she was 37yrs old & she was married with 2 small children.I get the I’ve lost my etc etc.You are right nothing comes close to the pain of losing your child.Death in it self is not a tragedy we are all going to die so if yourelderly parents die of course it’s sad but not a tragedy. To lose your child is because they haven’t had their expected life span.As in my daughters case never got to see her little boy start school or to see her little girl become a young woman.That’s the difference.

  • It is beautiful, but may I make a suggestion? Because the world is not just made up of sons, brothers, uncles, fathers, and grandfathers, could there be a forward slash so that daughters could be included too? I know that may sound sexist, or feministic or whatever “label” you want to put on it, but it’s not really. When I first started reading the comments, I thought these are beautiful words but it seemed like they were all coming from those who had lost a son (or someone of the male persuasion). I thought to myself (this was before I got to the rest of the comments), what about those of us who have lost daughters? It’s been 17 years since I lost my daughter and all of the comments above (whether pertaining to a son or daughter) are correct. It never goes away. You just sort of “learn to live with it,” because there’s nothing you can do about it. Time does not heal all wounds, it may make them easier to bear, but the hole in your heart remains. I think this is true whether you have lost a child, spouse, parent, any loved one, but yes a child is a different kind of loss because that child was literally “a part” of you. I’m rambling and I’m sorry, it’s just something I can’t control. I just wanted to ask if there could be a forward slash put in to include daughters. Thank you. God bless you all and may God grant you peace and grace.

  • So beautifully expressed. My 31 year old son Roland died by suicide in 1987. I attended Compassionate Friends for many years and at one point I was the National Secretary for Canada. Being and sharing with other parents who had had a son or daughter die was the place I needed to be because I was feeling so alone until I met others who knew the pain I was living

  • I lost my son in an accident 2 years ago. No one can understand the pain that I have gone through unless they experience it themselves. This article has opened my wounds but at the same time it is what I need from my friends and family. Thank you

  • I lost a Daughter still born that I carried dead for 6 weeks, that was 1964, never got to hold her or see her or even go to her funeral .I’ve always wondered what she looked like, I’ll always miss & love her. Had a baby girl the next year 1965, she was sooo precious , loved by all that knew her. A young man took her life as he hit her with his truck, killing her instantly(I thank GOD for her to die this way) this was in 1977. I had two grown sons & it changed each of them, also a 7 year old little girl,she has been changed by her sisters death as she, her dad & I saw all this happen. 10 years later there was a divorce , once again this changed everything. My children all were changed again. Life now has become better, I have 8 grandchildren , 9 great grand children, but I’m alone except for my 2 Cats that I love, they love me too!

  • Everything you said is spot on. I lost my daughter in 2015 and then my husband in 2016. I’ve been a happy person and taught my daughter, living with Cystic Fibrosis, that when you are born you get your cards dealt and you have to play it the best way you know how. She sure did! We wrote a book in her honor with her writings in it, There Are No Alligators in Heaven, to help others to never give up because she never did! Thanks for sharing. Love to all that lost their most precious gift!

  • This is an absolutely beautiful and very truthful, heartfelt article. My sister lost her 45 year old son in August of 2018 – one day after her birthday. As heartbroken as I feel, I can never imagine what she is going through. My heart hurts for her and her daughter and this article is beautifully written, coming from someone who has gone through this horrendous loss. God Bless you and your family!

  • I lost my son 3 years ago in August when he died all of his friends called me but since then I haven’t heard from any of them it’s like he never existed and these are the friends he grew uo with as a child , they all said they would keep in touch. I hear more frim people he has just met in his new residence in Rome, NY I’m so glad I have My good friend Camille we grew up together and she also lost her son ,so she knows what I’m going through. Thank you for listening >

  • These words have spoken every thought I have breathed over the past 3 years since I lost my wonderful son, Jerry. Thank you for putting into words the depth of our feelings, well said and bless your life!!

  • 3 1/2 years this April 21st, also would have been Matt’s 44th birthday, since Matt died. He is with me daily. He is and will always be my reason for living my life for the betterment of me and others!

  • I can relate with everything that was said. I lost my son over 20 years ago and it feels like it just happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. There is a hole that well never be filled I’m my heart. I miss him so much each day. Praying for those who have lost a child the pain never goes away.

    .

  • I lost my 23 yr old, only daughter, Bernadette, my baby bird, 1/30/98, and can attest to all of the above, being completely true.

    Thank You for sharing this..

    • I too have lost not one but three sons. Two 6 years ago this year a few months apart and one in January last year. One never ever forgets them and I will always remember them. It is very sad I know but unfortunately we never stop thinking of what they would be doing now and when special occasions come up one can’t help missing them.

  • I understand all these points..I lost 2 sons 6 months apart..while my oldest (38yrs old )was fighting cancer my middle son (32 yrs old)went to sleep and never woke up. Both were addicts at one time or another but neither died from an overdose..people don’t understand that it does not matter to a mother..They are my sons and always will be.I have one son a live, married and a father of 2 adorable little girls..I decided upon the death of my sons to live for the one that is living and his girls who have brought happiness to a broken heart/family and helped us to began to heal..No you never get over the loss of a child you learn to live with the void..I talk about my sons as if they were here with me all the time, it keeps them a live in my heart..people are learning this about me and have begone to accept it. As a parent who has lost children to death we are in plunged into a group we never would want to be in, but its a group who can understand one another and what we are going through even tho it is different for all.

  • People do not understand that you never get over the loss of a child. You never get it, you learn that is for a life time
    but you have no idea how long the life time is. I have pulled some insight from all of these comments. He was almost 48 and I miss him more today than I did the day he died. I know it makes no difference how old your child was, you were supposed to go first. He will never meet his son-in-law or his grand children but sadder yet, they will not know him. I love you my son and always will.

    • My beautiful, adored 33 year old daughter died a little over 2 months ago. While I have been able to go back to work, I miss her more today than ever before. I still cry on many days and review her Facebook page and Instagram page just to feel a little closer to her. I have never known pain like this…ever. I hope it gets better. I would love to feel her in the wind, the sun, the moon and stars, in the hummingbirds and in beautiful flowers, in Xmas trees, in my grandsons smile…but I can’t yet. I hope this gets better with time. I hope the deep ache and holes in my heart and soul get a little better. I love the Hopi poem. It resonates with me. My heartfelt condolences to all of the parents who have lost their precious children.

  • My beautiful, much loved daughter died 2 months ago at age 33. I was so overwhelmed and in such shock that I didn’t know how to keep on living. I went back to work a month ago. I think I am feeling a little better and then I cry for an entire day… and the entire next day also. I miss her more today than I did a month ago. I feel a need to remain connected to her forevermore, so I look at her Facebook page and her Instagram posts hoping it will make me feel closer to her. I hope that I eventually will feel better about her not being here anymore, but I’m not there yet. The Hopi poem is beautiful. I know it’s a process and I’ll eventually be able to see her in the wind, the sun and moon, the hummingbirds and flowers.

  • My 7yr old bonus daughter Emma Grace was takin way to soon. Emma was a daddy’s girl 100%!! Her daddys shadow u could say. She had this laugh… this laugh tht would make u giggle no matter the mood you maybe in. A giggle tht anyone would have loved to hurry and put in a jar squeeze lid on tight and put it on shelf for rainy day
    Unfortunately she was killed in atv crash on april 10 2017. No helmets on her or the 2 adults. Both adults were under the influence of a few different types of drugs. And neither of them were physically hurt. Emma died on impact.
    Emma was her daddys 4th child the youngest and the only girl!!! Ive watched the kindest, loving humble man become someone who is plain out angry all the time. He refuses to talk about her. A couple pictures r out and her room hasnt bn touched.
    I can’t imagine the pain he feels inside exactly! And pray to gof i never do! But, i cansay there is so much pain grieving for someone who is sitting in the same room as u!

  • Thank you so much this is the best thing I’ve read I can’t write much more right now because my tears are too much I’m going to save this so I can read it tomorrow thank you

  • I agree with all of these – However have not experienced any unspeakable joy either. Every bit of happiness is closed with immense sadness of what could have been. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Loved and missed every second of every day. #MPC

  • The loss of anyone is a terrible loss. I’ve never lost a child. I have lost all grandparents, parents and many close friends. I think of them daily and probably always will with a deep hurt. I feel especially for all these people who have lost their child or children. When I am around them I want to include their children in our talks. I know how they feel as I know how I would feel. I have lost ex-husbands who I talk about to their children telling them of all my good memories. I know the hurt never goes away as does the love for them. This was a great read and I wish everyone could read it.

  • I lost my 9 month old daughter, Karen Kay, in 1969 and I still have not gotten over it. I think of her almost every night when i go to bed. Telling her I love her and I will see her someday – I can hardly wait – it won’t be long now – I am almost 80.

  • Thank you so much for this writing, Angela. My son has been gone since 2016. It is amazing how, when we open up and talk about our sons, we may be talking to someone who has experienced child loss as well, but we hadn’t known it before then. A friend and I have often said that we belong to a club we never signed up for. It made me smile when you said that same thing. And so much more of what you said resinates with me.

    I have been wanting to start up my Trauma Center Trauma-sensitive yoga classes for a time now, and I know that I have been putting it off because I wasn’t quite ready, but as of a couple of months ago, I am excited and ready to get it going. Losing a child has given me, and it sounds like you too, more compassion, more insight, and more reasons to help others because that is why we are really put on this earth, to be of service to others. I can do it much better now. Thank you.

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