(NOTE: This post is not about a current student/client of mine and it’s not about stillbirth or miscarriage. It’s about a Momma I know who lost her teenage son. It’s come to my attention that in my intense need to put this reflection in writing, I may have inadvertently upset some readers by not noting that the subject matter might be triggering. I deeply and sincerely apologize.)
Another mother lost her baby today.
Another woman’s life — at least the one she used to know — died right along with her child. And, although I’m not a close confidante and I cannot even call myself a friend, I wept this evening — all day, really, at the horror of it all.
I don’t know the tremendous sorrow, the absolute and piercing heartache of losing a child — but I know what it is to have to contemplate that nightmare. I know what it is to have your child receive a sudden and potentially life-threatening diagnosis.
I know what it is to go to bed, eyes raw and crusty from crying, throat sore from the silent screams accompanying the tears, a knot of hunger in a belly that needs food, but it tastes like sand, so why bother? I know what it is to finally fall into a a fitful sleep only to awaken for a moment or two disoriented, not knowing up from down, and then to have the crashing reality hit you square in the face. I know what it is to long to go back to sleep. To have the temporary solace of unconsciousness rising to meet the bone-weary exhaustion of your body, the desire to be dragged back down into oblivion, to forget that your worst nightmare as a mother has come true.
These stupid, stupid men who talk of war. Their pissing matches on the world stage for all to see. What do they know of a mother’s heart?
They know nothing of how we would lay down our own lives for our children’s sake. They don’t understand the pain that all mothers feel for the children who died under collapsed classrooms in Mexico, they can’t fathom what it is to wonder how you will feed your children after a hurricane devastates your island home, they haven’t a clue how to support women in this most sacred act of mothering the next generation.
There is Truth — capital “T” truth — in the idea that once you become a mother, all children are your children. And when one of them dies, for whatever reason, your heart breaks into a million little pieces. It breaks partly for the loss of innocent youth — a life still yet to be lived. But mostly your heart breaks for the mother who has to endure this loss. You wonder how she’ll wake up in the morning and continue on. Where will she find the strength? How will she live when a part of her has died?
The world should be run by mothers. All the world’s leaders should be women who know and care and understand how much there is to lose. We would stop this petty bullshit and get to work on crafting policy and creating a world where every mother’s child is cared for from the the cradle to the grave.
We’re lacking a very important character trait in the world today: empathy. And I know of no other group than mothers who can empathize with this level of loss. It’s every mother’s worst nightmare.
So how do we support our fellow mothers through this tragedy?
We hold space, we’re strong so they don’t have to be, we make them food, we wail in our bathrooms after our own babies are all tucked asleep in their beds, we show up, we hug our kids a little tighter and try not to feel guilty about it, we share our brokenness with one another, we write to honor them and what they’re going through.
Another mother lost her baby today — and it doesn’t matter that he was almost grown. It makes no difference. He was her baby. She was his mother. That’s all that matters.