Life After Loss: Forever Changed

By |2018-02-05T16:12:58+00:00February 8th, 2018|Parenting After Loss|0 Comments

Here I am, three years and some out from my son dying in my husband’s arms.

I’ve gone through moments of thick, black, heavy darkness, and I’ve had moments where a smile creeps across my face. I’ve sobbed in front of strangers talking of my boy, and other times I’ve held back, not saying anything too specific. There are people I have met in the past three years who do not know I have a son who died. And there are other people who do know and think I’m “OK now.”

I’m not sure what that means. “OK now.”

I’m not a threat to myself or others, but I’m not sure what else I can claim at any given moment.

I remember reading articles in the early months after loss, analogies of cracks being filled with gold and hearts growing to let in more love. They made me sick. I told myself I’d never heal.

At some point I realized it isn’t about healing for me. It’s about taking life one day at a time, and finding meaning where I can. That meaning may be directly tied to Oberon, and it may not. It took a long time for me to be comfortable saying that out loud – that I could find meaning and purpose beyond my son. Just as my entire self is not tied to any one of my children, his entire existence is not tied only to me. Of course, his impact on me and his father has been the most profound. We are changed, in large and small ways, in positive and negative ways. He left an imprint on our lives, on our very ways of being.

If it were possible to never openly grieve again – to never break down in tears, to never feel jealousy at a complete family, to never resent the circumstances of my loss – I would still be forever changed. I know that grief will rear its head and knock me down – again and again.

But I don’t need it to justify my love for my son or my relationship with him. Because his impact on me is felt through more than tears and sadness.

It’s felt in how I support other loss families. It’s felt in how I listen. How I am more in tune with my needs. How I respect the needs of others. How I allow myself time to slow down. How I acknowledge things that make my skin crawl. I’m sure people who have known me before and after would have more observations.

He is my first born child, and I was going to be changed no matter what happened. When he died, those changes didn’t stop or reverse. If anything they became deeper and more ingrained. Grief will be a part of me for the rest of my life, but it isn’t the only way I carry my son with me. I have no choice but to carry him, every minute of every day. In my heart, in my breath, in every word, and every embrace. His impact, forever felt. And me, forever changed.

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Thoma
Elizabeth Thoma lives in the Bay Area, California, with her husband, Chris, and two cats, JJ and Pepper. She found out she was expecting their first child Mother’s Day weekend, 2014. With mild symptoms and no significant early warning signs, they adjusted to pregnancy and eagerly planned for their growing family. At the second trimester anatomy scan, they found out they were having a son and that he had an abdominal wall defect, an omphalocele. Ever the planners, Elizabeth and Chris prepared themselves and their families for what the omphalocele meant in a best-case scenario, and some of the possibilities that couldn’t be diagnosed in utero. Their son, Oberon, was born six weeks early and had his omphalocele surgery within his first twelve hours of life. The surgery went well, but Obie was having trouble breathing. At first, the doctors thought it was related to his large tongue, one of the many indicators that he had Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome. When Obie was one week old, the doctors told Chris and Elizabeth that somewhere along the line, Obie’s brain stopped developing. While they could control his seizures somewhat with heavy medication, Obie’s brain would never develop and he would not be able to walk, talk, or even communicate. At this point, they decided to switch Obie to comfort care and try to take him home from the NICU. They successfully broke out of the NICU and Obie rode home in an ambulance. Bringing their son home brought much comfort to their family. Obie passed away at home in his daddy’s arms at 33 days old. Elizabeth found out she was pregnant with their second child a week after Mother’s Day, 2015. Her second son, Everett, was born January 7, 2016. Elizabeth and Chris blog at about their family at Our Little Beastie.

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