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Losing a Child: The Love and Heartache

One of my greatest struggles as a mother who has lost a child is how to honor my daughter’s memory in a way that seems good enough  The problem is, no matter what I do, no matter what I think of, it never seems grand enough or poignant enough to properly show the depth of my love and loss.  How do I tell my daughter I love her when I can’t see her face or kiss her fat little cheeks?

Zoe Rose was one of my 25-weeker triplets who died four and half years ago after 9 ½ months in the NICU and 4 months at home.  She was rehospitalized and quickly succumbed to a secondary infection.  My grief is inexpressible although I’ve tried valiantly through my blog to describe how it feels to live with half of my heart in Heaven.  Her memory has never faded. In some ways I still dig in my heels and refuse to let go of her.  “Why should I have to?” I asked in my last counseling session.  My therapist replied: “For the sake of your living children and your husband who need a mother and a wife who is fully engaged in your family.”

This hurts to hear, like tiny daggers behind my eyes, I feel physically pained at the thought of letting go of Zoe.  My mind has trouble comprehending what this really means, to let go of the child I’ve lost.  How do I let go of something I’ve been trying desperately not to lose?  I’ve walked through life for the last four years with my arms outstretched trying to grab for something tangible that no longer exists on Earth.

My remembrance

My remembrance

What I’ve come to realize is that letting go does not mean forgetting.  Letting go means that her memory still floats in and out of my conscious and subconscious thoughts. But, I don’t let it stop me in my tracks on a daily basis, preventing me from focusing on the living, breathing 5 year old girls I have in front of me who need Mommy to play Candy Land one more time.  I have small mementos – my personal treasures that keep her close without flashing a sign that reads “I’m a grieving mother and it hurts!” (though some days I wish I had that sign).  I have a locket, given to me by a dear friend after Zoe died.  It is a beautiful antique brass heart with a rose engraved on the front and her name inside.  She is in there and I often rub my thumb across the smooth surface of this treasure as I whisper quietly to my daughter.

My mother created a beautiful shadow box she calls her “window where she talks to Zoe” filled with carefully chosen items that belonged to Zoe or hold some sort of symbolism for moments shared between a grandma and her granddaughter.  Avery and Lily have ladybug lockets on their backpacks with a photo of Zoe inside.  Lily recently told me that when she’s scared or nervous she looks at her locket and feels calm.

Mimi’s window for Zoe

The ways in which we choose to remember our lost babies are uniquely our own.  Although I may at times feel like the locket I wear or the tear-drop glass oil candle I light for Zoe don’t fully exhibit my love for her – I am beginning to understand and accept that they don’t have to.  The love I feel deep within me IS enough.  No outward sign could ever quantify the boundless love I feel, nor does the lack of a thousand fireworks in the sky on her Heavenly birthday mean that I didn’t love her enough.  The bond between mother and child has been described as primal. It is something many have tried to capture in a few perfectly chosen words, when the truth is there are no words. It is something created within us by a power greater than ourselves that is so awe-inspiring, it is too wonderful for words.

So, I will try each day to believe the words I write – that letting go doesn’t mean forgetting- and that I never have to convince myself or anyone else that I loved Zoe enough.  I am reminded of a line from a poem by an unknown author that reads “If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died.”  How true those words ring for a bereaved parent.

Keira Sorrells About Keira Sorrells

Keira Sorrells (MS) is the mother of triplets, Avery, Lily, and Zoe, born at 25 weeks. Avery and Lily spent four months in the NICU and Zoe was there for 9.5 months. After coming home, Zoe was rehospitalized at 14 months and died suddenly from a secondary infection. As a result of those experiences, Keira founded the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation which offers support to parents of premature infants and those who have lost an infant; as well as the Preemie Parent Alliance, which connects parent-led, preemie support organizations across the country. Her faith and connecting with preemie and bereaved parents has given her hope when it was hard to find. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook or on her personal blog.

Comments

  1. This is going to be my new mantra “letting do doesn’t mean forgetting.” The two are so closely related, but very different. So important to know the difference. Healing thoughts to you, Keira.

  2. So true Melissa – I repeat those words every day. More & more I’m beginning to believe it 🙂

    Lots of (((hugs))) to you.

    Keira

  3. Much love to you! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you- to know others are going through this is so helpful.- earlier this year after a hard 3 months we lost one of our ID twin boys. I know in my heart I gave him every ounce of love I possibly could have, and then some, and the confidence that he knew my love, is what gets me through most days with the baby and preschooler. I always want to do more to memorialize him, but I also feel that the best gift I can give my angel, Alex, is to be the best mom, possible to his brother and sister, and not let his death take away from their lives. God knows, though, it’s really hard some days.

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  1. […] Losing a Child: The Love and Heartache by Keira Sorrells […]

  2. […]  There are some very powerful stories out there that deal with the many stages of infant loss (Zoe, James and Madeline) written by parents who lifted the veil of their heartache so that others […]

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