Read as I take you through the emotions you may feel after suffering the loss of a child.
It’s Thursday, April 19th.
Today marks one year since Tristan has been gone. They say going through the holidays during the first year is always the hardest. They were right. The last year has been hard. I thought that being in the NICU was hard but truth be told, I’d rather still be there. Quite honestly, being anywhere with Tristan would be better than him not being here at all.
We celebrated Tristan’s first birthday in October. I’ve been holding on to these photos ever since then because I couldn’t bring myself to write this post. The emotions after experiencing the loss of a child are real, as real as emotions get. I experienced so many emotions that I never even knew was possible.
8 Emotions You Feel After Suffering the Loss of a Child
Anger was the first emotion I experienced just moments after losing Tristan. I was angry at myself for not advocating harder for my son, angry for not getting a doctor in the room sooner, angry at the staff for not knowing that Tristan wasn’t okay that day. It made me angry that Tatiana and my husband weren’t able to see Tristan before he took his last breathe. The anger still sits with me today but isn’t as strong as it once was. With time and learning a few techniques I’ve learned how to redirect my anger. Hopefully one day it will go away completely.
After losing Tristan I felt so alone. I only wanted to be with my husband and Tatiana because everyone else was so unbearably annoying, trying to overcompensate by constantly calling and saying the wrong things. I get it. As friends and family, you want to do something that you think will help. Saying the wrong things doesn’t help. In fact, it makes things worse. As a griever, it makes you want to isolate yourself because you no longer want to hear the opinions of someone else who hasn’t been in your shoes.
For those first two weeks or so after losing Tristan, my life stood still. I didn’t know what to do anymore. My NICU days were over. I no longer had to take daily drives to the place I called my second home for 6 months. I had to figure out how to move forward.
A year later the loneliness still comes and goes but I know it’s one emotion that will never leave me. Loneliness is one emotion I can’t run away from no matter how many people are surrounding me.
They say that you’ll experience 5 stages of grief after a loss. As a kid, I lost loved ones but I never experienced anything like this. Grief is the shittiest thing ever. No one said it was easy but no one ever said that it was so hard either. It comes in waves and sometimes unexpectedly. Grief is the one thing that will make you think you’re going crazy real quick. One moment you’re doing fine and the next moment you’re losing your shit in the carpool line or a public restroom.
No matter how much time goes by my grief will always be there. I’ll always hold the title of a grieving mother. Grief is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The pain that comes after the loss of a child is indescribable.
I remember the night we lost Tristan and the days that would follow. I had this intense pain in my chest that would stay with me no matter what I did. My heart was literally broken. If I had to give a shot at describing it, I would say it’s like someone slowly ripping your heart out of your body piece by piece. It hurts. Bad.
I had to make a decision after Tristan’s end of life celebration. My only choice was to move forward in life but I needed to decide how. Would I allow my self to be depressed and angry every day or would I try to live a happy life the way Tristan would want me to?
I decided that I needed to pull myself together the best way that I knew how. I needed to continue to live a happy life not only for me but for my beautiful son. With a little help from friends who’ve been in my shoes, I figured out a few healthy ways to grieve that were healthy for me. My life and any of my successes would now be not only for me but for Tristan.
As if the heartbreak, loneliness, anger, and frustration aren’t enough – wait until the guilt settles in. As a parent our jobs are to protect our kids. I felt like I couldn’t do that. I don’t talk about what happened the day Tristan died or how it happened because it’s something that’s private to us but I do feel guilty about it.
Had I followed my instincts and spoken up sooner, things may have been different that day. The guilt followed me for months. I was finally able to let it go but some days if I let myself go down that rabbit hole of what-ifs, it comes back.
Something happens after the loss of a child, maybe after the loss of any loved one. You really start to just not give a shit about anything after a while or at least I did. I mean of course I still cared about trying to be happy, being a good mom to Tatiana, and being a good wife but everything else literally just didn’t matter anymore.
I began to cut off all of the toxic people in my life or at least I tried. Some people just try to hold on no matter what. But I realized after losing Tristan that the negativity wasn’t welcome in my life anymore. I wanted to move forward with nothing but positivity in life and good influences.
My life changed. I changed. My parenting style changed. I began to not sweat the little stuff anymore. There’s something freeing about not having a care in the world. I began to live how Tristan wanted me to live all along, happy and carefree.
The possibilities for the future are endless but I’ve learned in the last year that the what-ifs will consume you if you let them.
After a year, I’ve done tremendous work. Healing is something that comes with time. I’ve had a lot of lightbulb moments and a lot of late night convos with God and Tristan. There are still some days that I struggle more than I’d like but most days I feel at peace. Maybe because I no longer have to watch him fight for his life every day, breathe by breathe. He’s at peace now so my only option is to find peace in that too.
Losing a child isn’t easy. It isn’t something that anyone should have to experience. The emotional rollercoaster that comes after your loss is intense but you can work your way through it. At first you might have to start by doing it for someone else whether it’s your other kids who are still alive or the child that you loss. One day you’ll come to the point where you’ll want to begin living again for yourself. It takes time but that’s okay. Allow yourself to grieve, in healthy ways of course, but allow yourself to go on the rollercoaster ride. When it comes to an end, you’ll feel at peace or I hope you will.
Peace and healing are possible.