10 Jul 2016
I’ve been trying to put this article into words for weeks.
Since the day in May when I held my beloved kitty cat in my arms as the vet gave her a shot to help her move from this earthly life into whatever lies next.
I expected letting her go to be difficult. I expected the grief and the heartache of saying goodbye and accepting the change in our relationship.
What I didn’t expect was to hold her body as her kitty spirit left and be instantly back in the moments and memories of holding my daughter’s tiny, still, and dead body. Memories of the utter joy of being her mother and holding her body close entwined with the raging grief of knowing these moments would be the only ones I would ever have with her in physical form. I didn’t expect to hold my fuzzy kitty cat and be back in that sensation and experience of cradling my precious baby.
I was reminded that this phrase came about for a reason. Because it’s true. Dead bodies have weight.
A live being – human or animal – has a lightness about them. We have weight but it’s a different weight. The living have an energy that has a certain lightness to it. But once that life energy leaves a body, there’s a density, a heaviness – a dead weight added to it.
Holding my daughter’s dead body was both the most joyful and the most painful experience of my life. Holding my cat as she left this world brought that experience back with utter clarity.
Death gives a density and a heaviness to our physical bodies.
Grief has a weight to it as well. It gives a weight, a heaviness to our emotional being. A weight laid on a heart that will always bear the scars and stitches of having loved so deeply and lost someone so beloved.
I think we notice the weight more in the beginning, when the grief is fresh and new in our broken and battered hearts. Over time, at least for me, I’ve stopped noticing that weight as much. I don’t think about it as often or feel the heaviness of it as fully as I once did. It’s just normal now.
There was a time when I cursed this weight, this grief that has so violently changed the landscape of my life and my heart.
But, honestly, until that day in May when I said goodbye to my sweet kitty, I hadn’t given that weight of grief and loss much conscious thought in a while. It is simply part of me, part of the person I am now.
Somewhere along the way on this journey of grief and life after loss, I stopped (mostly) cursing the extra weight I carry for the loss of those I love so deeply.
It’s like those moments of holding my daughter’s body – a bittersweet blend of joy and utter sorrow. Joy because that weight means that she lived and was so completely loved and sorrow because that weight also means she is gone and I will never know her the way I want to.
There is weight to grief because life and love matters. Those we love matter, however long or short their time with us might have been. We carry that weight because love matters and because we love, we grieve.
There is a weight to grief.
And while many days I have and probably will again curse it, I am also grateful to carry it.
I carry it because I loved.
I carry it because they lived. All those I have loved so deeply.
I carry it because it matters. They matter. Love matters.
When we die, our physical bodies become heavy. When we grieve, our hearts carry that weight of love and loss.
But it’s not dead weight.
It’s life weight. It’s love weight.
It’s those we love, carried with us until the day we lay our own bodies down.
22 Apr 2016
I spent a couple hours the other night rocking someone else’s crying baby to sleep. It’s something I do fairly regularly now as part of a new job. Sweet baby smell, aching arms, and that heavy sleeping baby weight in my arms.
On the same day I also looked at pictures of a friend who had taken her teenage son to visit colleges over spring break. She talked about how proud she is of him and how she is preparing herself to let him go off into the world on his own.
Both situations made me want to lay my head down and weep.
Most of the time these days, I handle being around kids or watching other women mother pretty well. There’s always a slight pinch in my heart, but generally speaking it doesn’t rip and tear the way it once did. I’m so used to that pinch now, I barely register it. For the most part, I’ve embraced the fact that I don’t have my children here to nurture and know in this physical world. I have made my peace with being a mother without living children.
Except Mother’s Day is approaching again. Mother’s Day and Christmas are the two holidays when my heart bleeds fresh. I can’t help but feel bombarded with images and reminders of what I didn’t have, don’t have, and will never have – a baby to love and nurture, a child to raise, a teenager to see grow into independence.
Already, I’m seeing ads and commercials, cards filling up the aisles in stores, displays for Mother’s Day gifts popping up everywhere. For most of the last 13 years, my dearest wish this time of year was to be somehow get lost on some deserted island away from all technology, people, and heartbreaking reminders that I will never be a “real” mother in the eyes of the world.
I wanted to disappear and be invisible in the same way that my motherhood has been invisible and disregarded all these years.
However, this year, despite the fresh bruises on my heart from reminder of what I don’t have, I decided I wanted to reclaim Mother’s Day. The world may never see my motherhood or find it as valid and valuable as those mothers with living children, but I wanted to acknowledge it and the motherhood of others like me without their children to hold.
And so Share Your Mother Heart was born.
A 10-day journey created specifically for mothers without any living children to honor, acknowledge, and share their experience of motherhood. To bring us together to talk about our experiences of motherhood, pregnancy, and more – to share the experiences that too often others don’t wish to hear about because our babies have died.
This Mother’s Day let us come together and acknowledge each other. Let’s share our stories and honor each other as the mothers that we are. As invisible as our motherhood might seem to the world around us, we are still mothers. Let’s see each other.
Also, treat yourself for Mother’s Day (or gift another mother like you) with the Invisible Mothers: When Loves Doesn’t Die book! Order here to snag $5 off!
07 Apr 2016
I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby. I know that the pain and grief and numbness and confusion you are feeling now seem unbearable and massive. Babies aren’t supposed to die. Yet here you are. Here we both are, for I like you, had to say goodbye far far far too soon.
I know there are no words I can say to fix this or take away your pain. I can’t wake you up from this terrible nightmare. I can’t fill your empty and aching arms. I can’t bring back your precious baby.
But I can say this: You did nothing wrong. You loved your baby and cared for them as fiercely and fully as any mother – and you are a mother, now and always. If anything in this world could overcome death, it would be the deep and powerful love of a parent for their child. You are the fiercest of warrior mamas, carrying love and grief in your very bones through life without your precious child.
You are not alone. There are many of us who are walking this journey of loss. When you are ready, we are here waiting to wrap you in love. We can’t bring them back to you any more than we could have brought our own babies back. We can, however, speak their name with you, remember their lives, honor your deep mother love, and stand with you as we hold each other up.
Big Hugs + So Much Love,
Mama to Grace and Lily
It’s here! You Are Not Alone: Love Letters from Loss Mom to Loss Mom is now available in print and ebook format!! A special book for grieving mamas from other grieving mamas who get it. You are not alone – we are with you.