A few months back, I wrote a piece on here announcing our joyful expectation of our eighth child, entitled “What to Expect…When You’re Expecting for the Eighth Time.” It was fun, a little silly, and a touch snarky. We were thrilled, and could not wait to share our joy with, well, everyone. What can I say? Happiness is something that wants to be shared.
Since that time, I’ve been pretty much off the grid. All of my loyal readers (all 1 of you — Hi Tim!) will have noticed that I hadn’t posted on here (or anywhere else) since some time in December. There are several reasons for my absence. For one, my computer died. Seriously. It was here one day and gone the next. For another, I’ve been busily homeschooling my little brood. It takes a lot of focus on four different grades and six different subjects. Oh, and then there’s the snow. There’s something about a snowpocalypse that just makes one want to give up on things like a blog. Plus, Downtown came back, so…
While these small things add up to a lot on an already full plate, they’re not the real reason I took a break (or not the main reason at least, because it is pretty hard to write a blog post without a computer). What happened to keep me from writing, here and elsewhere, is something that is almost impossible to write about, even now (nine weeks later). You see, in December, our baby who I had so happily typed away about only a few weeks earlier, passed away.
I’ll leave that there for a moment.
Yes, our baby, a boy, passed away. Here are some things I’ve learned about what to expect when you’re no longer expecting:
1) Losing a child is terrible. It doesn’t matter if the child was born or in utero. Facing the fact that your child is gone is like staring into a void and knowing you must fill it somehow but feeling as well that nothing can fill it. In short, it sucks.
2) You are still a parent. Even though that child is gone home to God, you are still his or her mother or father.
3) The baby hasn’t ceased to exist; he has in fact reached the highest level of existence any human can reach.
4) Speaking of which, you are now the parent of a saint (little “s”), so go you!
5) Not everyone will understand this, and no, you cannot punch those people who don’t. Trust me. Unless you experience the loss, you can’t understand it, and anyone who has lost a child, through miscarriage, illness, accident, or any of the other horrific ways there are to lose a child, knows this. Instead of letting yourself get angry at other people’s ignorance, be thankful that not everyone has to go through this.
6) You have a right to bury your pre-born child. You have a right to not bury your pre-born child. It all depends on how old said child was. You have many rights as a parent, and it is up to you to express your concern over the treatment of your child, because, as I said in number five, not everyone will understand that he is in fact still a child.
7) Burying your child does not make you a better Catholic than people who choose not to, and vice versa.
8) Just because your child died before he was born does not mean that you have no right to grieve. You have the same right to your grief as any other parent who has lost a child.
9) Just because your child died before she was born does not mean that you cannot laugh or enjoy life again, even the same day. Trust me, I speak from experience. Our God is a God who, as the Baltimore Catechism teaches us, created us specifically, “To be happy with Him in Heaven.” If He wants us to be happy then, I don’t see why He wouldn’t want us to be happy here. The beauty of life is that it is rarely wholly one thing at a time. To be clearer, even in the middle of terrible tragedy, when your heart is breaking, there is almost always still something to be happy about. We were sad to be losing our son, but joyful that we would see him again in heaven, and happy to know that our other children were being well cared for by our loving family.
10) You will get through this, with faith, prayer, and God’s grace. In fact, that is the only way to truly get through something like this. When it comes down to it, God gave you the child and God has taken the child away. It only makes sense that you must turn to Him to accept the entire situation.
11) You may feel terribly, terribly alone, even when you are surrounded by friends and family and even knowing that God is with you. Don’t give in to the loneliness. That is the surest way to not heal.
It’s hard to write about losing a baby. It’s hard to talk about it. But, the way I see it is this: If my writing about it here can help someone else who has suffered through the same situation in silence, then it becomes a little bit easier. In sharing my sufferings, I feel as if I’m sharing in Christ’s sufferings, and isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing, as Christians? Sharing each other’s sufferings and helping each other along the way of holiness?