As Harper’s 4th birthday approaches I have come to realize that grieving mothers don’t “move on.” Moving on means that I have come to terms with the fact that Harper died and I have made peace with that. Moving on means that living without her is okay. Let me be very clear, I may be doing well emotionally, but it’s not because living without her is okay with me. I am not okay with any of it. There’s no moving on from the death of a child.
What we do instead is move forward. We move forward because there is no other choice. We kick and scream and beg God to bring them back. Moving forward is messy as we figure out how to possibly live with the hardest blow life could deal. We grieve. HARD. Slowly we rebuild our shattered lives, brick by brick, and we move forward. Moving forward means we begin to wrap our heads around the fact that we couldn’t save our child, they are gone, so now we need to learn to live with the memory of them, and continue to love them deeply the way you love your child. We have to learn to love them differently and honor them always. It means we have to live with their spirit instead of their physical body.
The love for a child does not die when the child dies. It grows and grows with each passing day, month, year, just like the love you have for your living child. It may be coming up on 4 years but I think of Harper as much as I did in May 2015. She never, ever leaves my mind. She is a part of my everyday thoughts, always, just as my other children are, if not more. It’s impossible to move on from someone who you love more than you love yourself.
The world has moved on. People in our lives have moved on because the significance of her life didn’t hold the weight it holds in my life, and that’s hard. That’s such a harsh reality in child loss. When you feel the world should stop, it doesn’t, it keeps moving forward. I don’t try to remind people of Harper. I don’t need to. All that truly matters to me is that Mike and I, and our children, remember her, honor her and celebrate her. The world will know about Harper because of the impact she had on me, and a huge part of my “moving forward” is feeling like I am doing my best to honor her life.
So how did you move forward, you may ask? A lot of hard work. Dealing with this tremendous loss head on. We made large investments of time and money in our mental health, which is a journey. I fight hard for joy. I also know that there are many Mamas who aren’t moving forward because they are afraid of moving on. Don’t worry, Mama, you won’t move on, but you can move forward. You don’t have to live in the darkness to honor your baby. You can instead have your baby light your path and honor them by living. Fully. With joy and love and everything you deserve. It’s what they deserve too.