Losing a child is said to be a mother’s worst nightmare. I have lived that nightmare – twice.
It started in 1991 when my 9-month-old daughter died in a daycare accident. It was horrible. Children are not meant to die before their parents. Talking about her became the elephant in the room. Nobody would mention her for the fear of making me hurt more. In truth, my heart ached to say her name. There were many times I cried myself to sleep.
Nearly 30 years after the death of my 9-month-old daughter, my world was shattered again with the suicide of my 24-year-old son. My dreams for his future were gone. I had sleepless nights, angry moments, and lack of focus. I went into the canyon of why. Why did he do it? Why didn’t he talk to me? Why didn’t I see it coming? Suicide is complex, complicated, and messy. I was now living my worst nightmare coupled with suicide.
My pain and suffering are not limited to the loss of children. In between their deaths, other family members passed away:
- 1999 – My father
- 2009 – My sister
- 2016 – My mother
- 2023 – My brother
When I share my story of loss, so many people tell me I have been through a lot, that the magnitude of my losses are immense. They wonder how much more I can endure and how did I survive? To me… this is normal.
When my son died, I had no idea how I was going to make it. I remember that pain and fear so vividly. It was horrible. I was moving through life as if I were a robot. I was numb yet still felt deep sadness and anguish. At some point, I do not recall exactly when it happened, I looked in the mirror and made a conscious decision that I can and will overcome my challenges. I had done it many times before. It was not despite my trauma, or tragedy, rather it is because of them that I survived. Believe me, it was not easy. I was afraid on more than one occasion. It was tough. I had moments of despair filled with tears and uncertainty.
I got through it by showing my pain, showing my grief, being vulnerable. Vulnerability required me to accept the risks that come with being open to others, especially emotionally. Vulnerability is sharing personal stories, reaching out to others, and asking for help during tough times. In the rawest moments, I was open to additional wounds. Vulnerability is a state of emotional exposure that comes with a degree of uncertainty such as possible judgement by others and self-comparison.
I have worked with a network marketing company for 12 years. Before my son’s death they offered a self-improvement course on – guess what…vulnerability. The program was initially rolled out to those who had achieved higher levels than me. When my teammates told me what the program was about, I thought, I don’t need that! That is stupid. I was just fine the way I was. As they went through the program, they shared how their perspective was changing and helping them succeed. I was now at the point I couldn’t wait until I was given the opportunity to go through the program.
October of 2018 I was given just that chance and we were scheduled to start in January 2019. If you recall, my son died in December 2018, just two weeks before my Brave Leaders program was scheduled to start. I showed up to our first class with the video turned off and listened the best I could as I cried. Instead of judgment, I received caring and understanding. Instead of comparing myself to others, I gave myself grace. I gave myself permission to grieve.
The Brave Leaders program helped me to understand the importance of showing my human side, sharing my feelings, and not hiding them. It really allowed me to share my grief, share my pain and see I could be happy, joyful, and live a productive life. My newly developed skill, vulnerability, helped me to walk the child loss journey a second time, write two books, Life After Child Loss and Survive Your Child’s Suicide, become a Grief Specialist and speak on grief, pain and resilience. In my wildest dream, I did not set out to do these. It was because I was vulnerable that other people saw my suffering and saw my healing that I was inspired to help others.
You may not want to be a speaker or write books like I did. Nevertheless, your goal may be to get rid of the pain and find a new level of normalcy. I encourage you to share your pain, share your grief and reach out for help, exposing yourself to additional wounds while also increasing the odds of your healing. It will be well worth it. I ask you to simply believe that it works.
If you need help in getting started, contact me and we can do this together. Schedule a grief consultation today, Coaching – The Grief Specialist