August 1st marked three years since we said hello and goodbye to William Edward.  Sometimes it seems like it has been an eternity since we held him in our arms; other days it seems like it was just yesterday.  On his birthday, we took Noah (and, for the first time, Will’s urn) to a local beach and released roses into the Bay – it’s a tradition we started on his first birthday.  This year, as our water-loving 21-month old rainbow gleefully splashed in the water (and tried to eat sand – we’re still working on learning that not everything that we can shove in our mouth belongs there), I couldn’t help but think about how profoundly my oldest son’s life – and death – has changed *my* life.

I truly believe that I am a better person because of my late son.   I love deeper, laugh harder, fret less, and appreciate life so much more than I did before my son’s death; I am a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend – a better human being – then I was before I had to say goodbye to my child.

Will’s life may have been tragically short, but I am doing my best to live up to the promise I made him on the day he was born: That I would never, ever forget him, and that the world would know about the little boy that made me a mother.  I have invested a lot of time and energy into doing things that I would likely have never done had I not experienced child loss: I help moderate Facebook groups for women who suffer the same medical condition that caused me to deliver Will too prematurely for him to survive (I couldn’t save my son, but I can help – I *have* helped – other women save theirs by assisting them with gathering information about possible treatment protocols) and speak openly and candidly about my struggles with infertility, child loss, and pregnancy/parenting after loss.  My husband and I donate bereavement packages containing a handmade blanket, hat, and burial/cremation outfit, books on grieving for both mothers (You Are the Mother of All Mothers: A Message of Hope for the Grieving Heart by Angela Miller, which I took great comfort from in the immediate aftermath of Will’s death) and fathers (Emily Long’s From Father to Father: Letters from Loss Dad to Loss Dad by Emily Long, which my husband contributed to), and information on resources for grieving parents.  Most recently, I have enrolled in a course (through Stillbirthday) to become a Birth and Bereavement doula; I feel called to help other mothers whose pregnancies do not end the way they imagined.  The death of my son has been a guiding force in my life – while his life was tragically short, through me (and my husband and family) the impact of his life will be long-lasting.

Will’s death also changed how I mother my living child.  I am acutely aware of how blessed I am to have been given the chance to not only mother a child, but to *raise* one as well.  Even on the rough days (and there *are* rough days – he’s a toddler 😊), I cannot help but reflect on what a tremendous gift it is that we were able to conceive and successfully carry a child – neither of those things looked possible not so long ago, and they may not happen again.  I only get to remember Will – I get to *raise* Noah.  And it’s important to me that I mother both of my sons to the best of my ability.

Both of my boys at the beach as we celebrated Will’s birthday. Noah wanted to play with his rose for awhile before releasing it into the water.

 

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