Judah Brown Project info@judahbrownproject.org

Here is What I Know About Losing a Child

By: Christi Brown

Christi Brown
Christi Brown

Here is what I know about losing a child:

I need people to pray and listen, not advise.

I need people to not give me a time limit on my grief.

I need people to let me talk about him and say his name. Just as I want to talk about my children who are still alive, I want to talk about my son who isn’t. Just as you want to talk about your living children, moms and dads who have lost a child still want to talk about their children who have passed, want to include them in the count of how many children they have, and deeply don’t want them to be forgotten.

I need you to understand that I have an intense need in me that my child not be forgotten. Say his name. Tell me things you remember about him. That doesn’t make me more sad, even though it may make me cry. I cry because of how important it is to me that you remembered him. 

Let me have my questions and feelings. They are many. They are complex. They change, sometimes from moment to moment. 

I need you to know that the stages of grief aren’t finite and they don’t have an end. They are continuous and fluid and they don’t end in total acceptance. Acceptance is one of the stages that is moved through constantly and in varying levels each time.

I need you to know that the stages happen because my human mind just can not handle the gravity and severity of the pain that losing my child has brought, all at once. I accept a tiny bit at a time and that will continue for the rest of my life.

I need you to  let me have my many, ever-changing feelings about it. Let me be angry and sad and numb and laugh and cry all in the span of five minutes. These are all normal feelings to have when you have lost your child.

This is a severe test of faith for me!

Please know that this is a severe test of faith and I will struggle with that. Be patient and pray for God to guide me, but don’t condemn me for questioning. Jacob wrestled with God. That is what I’m doing too. Our God is big enough to handle that. I have to question, to move forward. It doesn’t mean I’m disrespectful of God. It means I’m trying to make sense of losing my son and God’s purpose in what has and is happening.

I need you to know that my arms ache so badly to hold my child again and nothing can make that ache go away.

I need you to know that there is no “best” way to grieve and no right or wrong way to do it. Please don’t tell me how long it should take or how best to do it. Let me grieve in my own way and in my own time.

You need to know that just as my love for my child will never die, neither will my grief. I will not cease to have grief at any point for the rest of my life.

Please don’t ask me how I am. I am not ok but I don’t always want to feel like I have to say that or to pretend that I am ok. Instead, just tell me you care.

Christi and Judah's sister, Anna hugging at graveside

Please keep reaching out to me. Some days I won’t respond, not because I don’t like you, but because I don’t have the strength to hold things together that day. Keep trying. Don’t give up on me…even when it’s been a year, or two years, or ten years since my child died. This road is for the rest of my life. Please stay with me through it.

If you want to help, do something for me. Mow my lawn, have dinner or groceries delivered. Do my laundry. These things help more than you know because losing my child has taken every ounce of my strength and little things like laundry, grocery shopping and cooking have become mountains to me now.

Don’t tell me my child’s death happened for a reason or that God needed another angel, or that God needed him more than I do. It doesn’t help AT ALL.

Please don’t ask me to think about my other kids and focus on them or that they need me. I already do think about them all the time and I  worry constantly about their grief and being strong enough to still be mom to them while grieving my child who died. Statements like that make me feel like 1) I need to be quiet about my child who died and 2) That I’m not a good mom to my other kids because I ache for the one who is no longer with me. Which of your kids would you be ok not to have with you anymore?

Please don’t compare my child’s death to the death of your mom, grandpa, sister, dog…. There is NO loss like the loss of a child. There just isn’t.

Be patient when I have to change plans at the last minute. Grief has many, many triggers and I never know when one will happen and I won’t be strong enough to do what I thought I could just a few minutes before.

Don’t tell me I am strong and that you couldn’t be strong enough to do this. I didn’t have a choice. I am forced to do this. If your child died, you would be too.

If you don’t know what to say, then tell me you don’t know what to say and just sit in silence with me. I would rather be silent and genuine than hear things that unintentionally hurt. Accept with me that it’s unfair and let that be ok to do.