“What I Wish Everyone Understood About Child Loss”

It’s not too often that the house is this quiet on a Saturday afternoon.  Marc is away on a men’s retreat along with Paul, Joseph, his dad, and a handful of his friends.  Johanna is busy with boyfriend and work.  Catherine’s summer friend, Lacey, is here for the weekend so they’re off at the Salmon run at this very moment.   And Zoe, thankfully, is having a nap.

In this quiet moment, while struggling with one of the stories I’m trying to write, I had the odd inspiration to clean out some of my favorites bookmarks and came across one bookmark for the website “Silent Grief”.  Having totally forgot I’d even bookmarked the site, I took a peak to see what it was about.   Turns out it was a blog and the mom’s last entry from August caught my eye and within minutes tears were just pouring down my cheeks.

The post itself was hard to read, mostly because I could relate to her pain and as she spoke of her son I was also, naturally, thinking of Bernadette.  But I was also thinking of Mom losing Ron.  She was there when he died and no doubt was standing over his open casket for as long as she could.

After reading Clara’s post, I tried reading the comments below it and one of the things that so many of the mothers said was that they could have written the post themselves; she was describing their pain too.

So I’ve decided to include her post here because I too feel like she’s read my heart and mind and has expressed the battle raging inside me better than I can.

All the emphasises in bold and italics were in the original article.  I haven’t changed anything.  But I just want to add one small hope.  Where Clara says:

Never again will we, the parents of child loss, get to see or touch our child again.  We will never see life in our child’s eyes again.  We will never be able to share any laughter with our child.  We will never………….do anything with our child ever again.

I just wanted to emphasize that she’s referring to ‘life here’.   She wasn’t implying never to mean for eternity.   In this life we will never see our children again, but we have the hope of seeing them again in heaven and being with them for eternity.


“What I Wish Everyone Understood About Child Loss” by Clara Hinton

Nobody ever plans on child loss becoming part of their life, yet the sad fact is that every day children die and parents are left grieving the loss of their child.  This journey of grief is not an easy one.  In fact, this is the most difficult path a parent will ever walk.  The journey is long, lasting a lifetime.  There’s no way to get off of this road.  It is now the road that must be traveled every day for as long as a parent of child loss remains alive.

My life has been turned upside down and inside out by child loss and like so many others I was naïve enough to think it wouldn’t happen.  Yet, it did.  My son was snatched away without warning and now there are only memories to fill the huge hole that has been left in the center of my heart and soul.  Child loss is such a misunderstood loss by the majority of people.  Truthfully, I’m a bit tired of saying, “Unless you’ve walked in these shoes, you’ll never know what it feels like.”  While that’s true, others can at least get a good grasp on what this void feels like if they really sit down and try to imagine what one day would be without the life of their own child.

I wish others understood the magnitude of this loss.  I wish they understood that losing a child causes permanent changes to the very core of a parent.  I wish they understood that you can have a rock solid faith and still cry yourself to sleep every night because the hole in your heart hurts so bad.

Oh, how much I wish others could grasp what it means to know with absolute certainty that your child will never appear on this earth again.  Never again will we, the parents of child loss, get to see or touch our child again.  We will never see life in our child’s eyes again.  We will never be able to share any laughter with our child.  We will never………….do anything with our child ever again.

Our child is now a memory living within our heart and our fear is that the memory of our child will fade over time.

One of the most difficult moments I had  was seeing my son shortly before he was buried.  I know that this is the tradition we have practiced in this country for years, but in a lot of ways it is brutally cruel.

I wanted “one last time” with my son, yet there were people standing around. Why can’t people understand that a mother needs one final moment all alone with her child? 

I wish I would have screamed, “Get out.  This is MY son.  I gave birth to him, and I want to be the very last person to see him now that he’s gone!” , but I was polite instead.  Oh, how much I wish I had tossed aside my manners and climbed up close to Mike and cried for hours and hours while holding him “one last time.”

I wish others understood not to ever rush a mother at the funeral home.  The clock means nothing to a mother anymore.  She simply wants “one last time” with her child.

I ran my fingers across his face, his lips, his hair.  My son.  My beautiful son.  There was so much left that I wanted to tell him.  I wanted it to be just me and him.  A mother and her son.

My tears drenched the shirt he was wearing as he laid so stoically in the casket.  I wanted to yell out in fear and anger, “Why did you do this?  Why did you leave like this?  Didn’t you know I wanted to be with you when you died?  I’m your mother!  I wanted to be the one with you, not the EMT’s — strangers pounding on your heart trying to get your heart to beat one more time.”

I want others to know that I wanted to be the one to say, “He’s gone.” 

I’m Mike’s mother.  I want others to know that I wanted to be the one with him when he left this earth.

I want others to know that mothers have different feelings about child loss than anyone else.  We carried our child’s body inside of us.  We gave life to our child.  We felt the miracle of life happening in every cell within us. We lived and breathed with our child for nine months.  Our body sheltered our child, fed our child, nurtured our child.

I want the world to know that when a child dies, part of a mother dies, too, and that part that died cannot be revived ever again.  Oh, she can fake it, but a mother knows that part of her died the very moment her child died.  That’s what I’d like others to know.

I wish others knew how important it is to have our child remembered.  I’m finding one of my biggest fears is Mike being forgotten.  I’m so afraid his memory will fade each year until I’m the only one who remembers.

I’m so afraid my son’s life no longer counts…………… 

I want others to know that even though life goes on, it will never go on the same for a mother of child loss.  Mike is forever forty-two.  He will never grow older, and that saddens me so much.  I found some emails Mike had sent to me shortly before his death. He was planning a way to move his family “back home.”  He wanted me to keep it a secret until he could get the details worked out.  He knew he could sell his three children on the idea, but he was going to have a harder time convincing his wife to move from Tennessee to Pennsylvania.

I want others to know that my son had plans but he didn’t get to see them carried out.  His life ended far too soon. 

Life is going on all about us, and every parent of child loss realizes that.  But, we want YOU to realize that life isn’t going on for us as easily.  Every day without our child is a struggle.  Living with part of yourself gone isn’t easy.  We fight hard every day to find a reason to smile about the future and most days it’s so very difficult.

I want others to know that the pain of child loss never goes away. 

The. Pain. Never. Goes. Away.


Clara — Forever Mike’s mom

5 Replies to ““What I Wish Everyone Understood About Child Loss””

  1. Mary-Anne Neutelings

    Very well written. I understand a little more now. I can’t imagine. It was hard enough losing a parent.

  2. Tatiana Raineri

    I’m too afraid to imagine… even the thought of it is too painful, although we have almost lost Matteo so many times and, for what we understood from the doctors, will be fighting for his life for the rest of our lives…

    • pattidansereau Post author

      Tatiana, I remember being in the kitchen on our ward at Children’s before Bernadette was even diagnosed and hearing the moms talking who were going through round two of cancer with their children and I remember that desperate sinking feeling that if Bernadette survived this initial battle, it would continue to be a battle for the rest of our lives too. I was so scared to live each day, each moment on that edge of terror, watching her suffer, fearing turns for the worst, fearing those terrible words, ‘There is nothing more we can do for your child, sorry.’ You’ve been living on that edge for two years now with no end in sight. I can’t imagine how you and Roger survive except with the grace of God. Will continue to pray for you always.

      • Tati R.

        Thank you for your prayers, Patti! We reciprocate them as we also know you only survive with the grace of God as well. Blessings!


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