Having a living child in the wake of losing a child is the most elating, surreal, and relieving feeling that a loss parent can experience. It feels like the impossible has been achieved. That a boundless light enters the deepest darkness. So many wonderful, and remarkable, feelings are associated with that moment. With that also comes a lot of confusion. A lot of anger, and a lot of sadness continues to exist. None of that takes away from the gratitude that you feel for the universe having brought you a healthy, happy child that you get the ultimate gift of watching grow. But there are still triggers, reminders, and feelings of panic that accompany your miracle.
Photographs are triggering. Whether it’s family or friends sharing an image of their newborn, or a family portrait. Why does their picture look so perfect? Getting swept in the swirl of negative emotions is out of your control when you’ve lost a child. It’s an exhausting experience (to endure over and over and over again). No one deserves it, no one wishes it upon anyone, but you’re stuck living with it. All of those awful thoughts (and feelings) still occur, exist, and even manifest when you have a living child in the wake of losing a child.
The holidays are what, most strongly and often, evoke this feeling for me. Seeing so many photos of families who have all their children is triggering. It’s important that I acknowledge, and honor, that feeling. I wish could just feel happy. Nothing takes away from the endless gratitude I feel for having my healthy, happy, living child here with me. And nothing takes away the sadness associated with losing my daughter, Lila. Our picture will always be missing her.