Hi, my name is Katie. I am 30 years old and have been happily married for 6 years. Last year, on October 1st, I became a mama to Liam and I have proudly carried that title every day since. I am a mom, but I am different than many because my sweet Liam is forever 67 days young. He passed away on December 6, 2015. I have spent this last year navigating this sea of grief, some days I swim, some days I sink. Every day, I miss my son and everything about him. I am a mother, yet I have no living children. I am a mom, a different kind of mom, but a mom nonetheless.
Sadly, there are so many moms like me. I am going to guess you know at least a few. Some of us lost our babies in infancy, some before they arrived into the world. No matter the age or gestation, the pain is the same. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. I wanted to share some helpful things to say and remember when talking to or thinking of a mom like me:
What to Say to a Mom Like Me
1. It’s okay to not know what to say. In fact, just say that. It’s honest and real and we understand. Even I don’t know what to say when I meet other moms like me. Instead of searching for the perfect words (there are none) or sentiment (there isn’t one) just hug us and tell us that you care.
2. Understand we may not feel like talking, but don’t stop calling or texting. In the first few months after Liam died, I had no desire to see or talk to most people yet I didn’t want them to stop reaching out. Confusing isn’t it? That’s grief in a nutshell, feeling conflicting emotions, simultaneously. Even if we aren’t responding, knowing you are thinking of us is comforting.
3. Remember that everyone grieves differently and the loss of a child isn’t the same as the loss of a (insert family member, friend or pet here). There is no timeline and no end date. It will look different for each Mama and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Be accepting of where we are in our own process.
4. Know that the fact that we may be able to have more children in the future is irrelevant. Having another child will not replace the one we have lost. You wouldn’t suggest to someone whose mother or father has died that they could get another mom or dad. The same is true for those of us who’s child has died. We may choose to get pregnant again and that child will be loved and cherished for who they are but the love and ache for the one who is no longer with us will always remain.
5. Don’t be afraid to mention our babies. Most moms like me WANT to talk about them! One of our greatest fears is that our children will be forgotten. We think about them all the time so when you try to not bring them up, it’s like avoiding the elephant in the room. They were real and our love for them is undeniable. You bringing them up is a comfort to our aching hearts.
6. Know that with deep sadness also comes incredible joy. The pain of losing a child is unfathomable. Yet the love that remains is greater still. I would relive Liam’s life all over again even if it also meant reliving his passing. The joy of being his mama will never be overshadowed by the sadness of his death.
Moms Like Me Need Moms Like You
Part of me died when Liam died. There is this emptiness, a space in my heart that will exist forever. I imagine most moms like me feel the same way. Yet in that place of pain and sadness, a new part of me has also emerged. A stronger, bolder and less fearful me. I don’t wish to be who I was before I became Liam’s mama. For those of you who know someone who has lost a child, you may see us as changed. That is true, we are changed, but know that we can be changed for the better despite our heartache.
Knowing I am not alone on this journey brings me both comfort and sadness. Many have walked before me and many will walk after me. The best way that you can support moms like us who have experienced the death of a child is to offer your hand (and your love) as we try to find our way.
Are You a Mom Like Me?
Please be encouraged to add your son or daughter to our Forever Loved Wall.
Katie Ward is a native to Sonoma County. Born and raised in Healdsburg, she lives in Windsor now with her husband and their dog. She’s a work from home mom of a baby in heaven (Liam who passed away from a severe congenital heart defect) who taught her more about life than any school ever could.