I am blessed to have really good friends. Many of us have known each other since childhood, and we all had our children around the same time. There are a lot of similarities among us–how we parent, how we see the world, qualities we appreciate in our spouses. But there is one thing that separates me from all of them. I have a child in Heaven.
Historically, I have never been a fan of social media. Starting with MySpace, then the origination of FaceBook, I always looked at those media as a vessel for people bragging. I didn’t think I needed to display my life or accomplishments on the worldwide web, and frankly, if I wanted to know how someone I knew was doing, I called, or texted, or emailed, or wrote a letter.
But in terms of child loss, sometimes the loneliness is the worst part. It’s hard to imagine how anyone can truly be empathetic, because in almost every case, no one wants to even pretend to imagine a life without their children in it. That is why I started this blog. As a way to heal through writing, to let those who love me know that even in my darkest moments I am looking for light, and to potentially guide other loss parents on their grief journey.
Once my blog was established, I started examining other forms of social media. I joined LinkedIn for professional reasons, and a good friend of mine uses Instagram to promote a sustainable lifestyle. In the interest of supporting her, I created an account.
At first I just read, and scrolled, and looked. It took me a little while, but I finally created a post. My first posts were themed to accompany my blog. Rainbows I photographed, symbols that reminded me of my angel in Heaven, and sometimes a good quote or a book I’d recommend.
Then something magical started to happen. I began connecting with other loss-moms. And, while many of my friends, and my sister in particular, are likely mumbling ‘I told you so’ under their breath, it feels good to hear words of encouragement from others who have experienced similar pain.
I have been told, many times over in the last five years, that I am a strong person. I have been told I’ve handled my grief incredibly, finding a new career path, successfully holding on to my marriage, and adopting a child. I hear these things and I often laugh to myself. If only the people uttering those words could hear my inner dialogue. When I have to consciously tell myself that I am ok, this is my journey, and soon enough I will see my beautiful angel again.
Not to diminish the encouragement of my biggest supporters, but it is very different coming from someone who has survived the greatest trauma on Earth. Yes, I have heard and read over and over that suffering the loss of a child is the most traumatic event one can experience. Period.
So when I read the posts of other loss-moms, I feel less alone. My son’s loss is shared by so many people close to me and beyond. But I am the only one who knows what it’s like to be his mom, and to no longer be able to hug him, and hold him, and kiss him, and smell him, and see him grow.
But those other loss moms who share their stories give me sense of community I haven’t found anywhere else. I can identify with their pain, and rejoice in their progress. They give me encouragement with their posts and quotes. And I am so thankful this support is available at my fingertips. Though some people undoubtedly use their media profiles to brag, or ‘keep up with the Joneses,’ this platform can also make connections that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
We’re in it together. And that gives us power to heal.