A Letter to Grieving Mothers

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Why did this have to happen?  It is the first question you ask.  It is the question you will ask yourself day after day as you grieve the loss of your child.  Welcome to the club.  It is a club that none of us join freely but once you enter, you are in and cannot escape.

You are a mother without a child.  You grieve a hurt that knows no boundaries and tears at your heart.  At times you feel it is almost impossible to breathe.  I share your grief with you.

This time of grief is confusing.  You feel unprepared.  No one in our club is ever prepared.  Your world has been turned upside down and no longer makes sense.  You are lost in pain and the world doesn’t know what to do or how to help.  Those who are closest to you stumble endlessly trying to give you the comfort you desperately need.  People will say things like, “I know how you feel” or “It is part of God’s Plan”.  They will try to comfort you by telling you that “He/she is in a better place now” or “You can have another baby”.  They will encourage you to move on by saying, “Look at what you have to be thankful for” or “Put this behind you; it’s time to move on with your life”.  Understand that they do not know what you know.  They are not in our club.

I want you to know that you are not alone.  I share your grief with youI have lost a child too.  I’ve felt pain, anger, fear and dread.  I’ve felt a sadness I didn’t know existed and have struggled to bring meaning to my son’s life and his death.  You will search endlessly for meaning too.  I want you to know that you are not alone.

As you read this, I pray you understand that losing your child is an inexplicable tragedy that should NOT have happened and is NOT your fault.  You did not lose your child because you did something wrong or because you deserve to suffer.  This did not happen because you are a bad person. It is not fair.

Why did this have to happen? I believe in a world where bad things happen for no reason at all.  I believe in a God who gives strength and courage to those who suffer the loss of a child.  I believe that God did not do this to your child and God didn’t let it happen either.  I believe that God suffers with you and wants to comfort you.  Turn to Him when you are ready.  If you are angry with Him now, that’s okay.  Talk to Him and tell Him how you feel.  Share your anger, disappointment, pain and fear with Him.  God suffers with you and wants to comfort you.  He will be there when you need Him.  You will find Him again.

It’s been over two years since I lost my son Jackson.  I’ve traveled the five stages of grief as each stage crashed upon me like waves upon the seashore.  They include (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, and (5) acceptance.  They would come and go and rearrange themselves without warning.  I too was lost and confused.  Every day was a struggle that I thought would never end.

In time, the question I asked myself changed from “why did this happen?” to “what do I do now that it has happened?”

My prayer for you is that one day you find a way to live with the pain, find sense in your loss and channel your pain and suffering to help heal others who are also suffering.  It is a requirement of our club and a way to help us heal.

You are dealing with the most intense grief a mother can experience. I pray that you will be gentle with yourself, ask for professional help when you need it and utilize the resources that you believe will make a difference.  Do what you need to do.    Allow yourself the time you need to grieve.  Your heart will heal but it is a process that will take time.  I share your grief with you.  We are in the club together!

Love and prayers,

Catherine

Catherine McNulty

More Articles Written by Catherine

After losing her infant son in 2011, Catherine embarked on a journey to do more than survive grief. The loss forever changed the trajectory of her life and sent her looking for meaning and purpose for the life she was given. She channeled the love for her son into her own healing, self-growth and personal empowerment. Today, she has created a framework to grief that disrupts conventional ways of looking at loss. She challenges her clients to step outside of a victim mindset and regain control of how they navigate grief. She teaches how to grow through grief and encourages speaking openly about grief to break down the walls of silence around grief. Catherine lives in San Diego with her family where she speaks, writes, and offers coaching to those who want to do more than just survive grief. She is a board member of Empty Cradle and volunteers at Miracle Babies and the Ronald McDonald House. Her business, Grief INSPIRED supports those who are grieving and guides them to create a new normal that honors the ones they’ve lost.

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  • Imani Ruffins says:

    Thank you!

    My 20 year old daughter Milan Arriola was shot and killed while riding in the passenger seat of a car July 3, 2015.

    I’m living a real life nightmare.

    • Imani, I am so sorry for your loss! Congratulations on surviving a full 2 years. I can only imagine how hard it is for you. Take time to celebrate the time you had and know that your daughter wants you to be happy. Speak her name and share stories about her as often as you can. Find ways to serve others as a way to honor her life and death. Much love to you.

  • TRACY SANDERSON says:

    In time, the question I asked myself changed from “why did this happen?” to “what do I do now that it has happened?”
    Thank you for this statement Catherine, this is what I’ve been searching for.
    I lost my 18 year old daughter 3 years ago to an accidental overdose. I’m almost at that stage where I can ask myself that…
    Your article really helped 💜
    Tracy

    • Hi Tracy,
      My heart is touched that my words could help you. I’m so glad. The focus of Grief INSPIRED is centered around giving up the victimhood of grief and turning the love you have for your daughter into something inspiring. Continue to celebrate her life and all she gave you while she was here. Remember, grief is about your life, not the death of your daughter. That is where the meaning lies. What can you do today that will honor her life? 🙂 She’s watching you with tears of joy as it all unfolds.