Parker's Place Foundation

Healing those who have lost too soon

Lessons of Life and Love After the Death of My Infant Son

Losing my infant son was something I never expected could happen to my husband and I. Nine years later, I’ve come to realize our son has taught me some of the greatest lessons of life and love.

I have learned that your heart can break in a way that can never be repaired. I’ve learned that I will never be the person I was before losing my son. I am different now. I am a mom who will forever be missing one of her children. As I look at pictures from before knowing our first child, I see innocent smiles and a seemingly untouchable happiness. Life was about as perfect as it could be. Our lives changed in the blink of an eye and it has never been the same since. There is no going back to the people we were before our loss. I've come to a place nine years later where I no longer miss the person I used to be. I now see the world through a perspective I never knew existed until our son died.

I have experienced the beauty and heartfelt love that consumes you, and the bond that deepens immensely, when your friends gather around to support you during your darkest days. And, I’ve learned that your heart can literally swell with thankfulness and a love for those friends who have remained by your side all the days, weeks, months and years after. I’ve learned that, in the quiet moments when my mind takes me back to those days following my son’s death and his funeral, I can feel the pain like it was yesterday. And, at the same time, I also feel an indescribable connectedness to those friends who literally stood by my side making sure my basic needs were being met when I was too distraught to do it myself.

I have learned that when people say to me, “You are so strong,” that I sometimes want to yell and scream that I, too, want to be like them again. I want to be unaware of the sheer pain of losing a child. I want to go back to when I, too, believed that I could never survive the unimaginable. I’ve learned that people's intentions are good and coming from a loving place. They are simply acknowledging that they notice my ability to survive the greatest of losses, the loss of a child. I have learned from my son that I possess a strength far greater than I ever imagined possible. A strength that no one knows exists until your world crumbles before you and time stands still, yet the rest of the world continues moving. Time when you are forced to either move with it or be stuck in Neverland.

I’ve learned that it’s ok to feel whatever it is I feel at any given moment of any day. I’ve learned that I don’t have to apologize for the feelings I experience. Feelings, regardless of what they are, are all ok. I’ve learned the importance of advocating for my own needs. I’ve learned the importance of finding my voice.

I’ve learned that sometimes you withdraw from your closest family members because seeing their pain is too much for you to bear on top of your own pain. I’ve learned that, over time, those relationships can be drawn back together again and become even stronger than ever.

I’ve learned that love continues far beyond the grave. I’ve learned that I can choose to let my son’s death strengthen me or break me. I’ve learned that I can honor my child’s memory by living a life that honors and remembers him. I’ve learned that there is a unique strength that develops when you choose to move forward while carrying the loss with you every step of the way.

Janelle Demaree ~ Founder & President, Parker's Place Foundation

To Share or Not to Share?

I had a friend call me today asking for advice on how to share Parker's Place information with others in her life who have experienced infant loss. She was unsure and wondering if she should reach out to them. And, if she should, how should she approach the subject? 

Are you in the same position? Maybe you are afraid to reach out to someone out of fear that it may make them sad or upset. Or, maybe you just don't know what to say or how to approach the subject. Let me share with you my perspective as a parent who has experienced infant loss. 

First, decide the best way to communicate with this person in your life. Is it someone you see often and can share the information in person? Or, maybe you don't see this person often and an email would be the best way of reaching out. Either way is fine. What I have experienced is that you really can't go wrong when bringing up resources related to infant loss when it is done out of love, compassion and the intent to provide help and support.

Be upfront and clear about what you are sharing. You might say something like, "I came across this website and couldn't help but think of you and (insert baby's name). I thought you might be interested in checking it out. It could be a really beneficial resource for you." Or, maybe you're reaching out to someone whose loss was a few years ago and you're not sure if mentioning this resource will open them up to pain they seem to have already walked through. The reality is that parents who have lost infants continue grieving no matter how recent or long ago the loss was. Your approach could be something like this. "I'm not sure where you find yourself today in your journey of grieving the loss of (insert baby's name/your baby boy/your baby girl), but I have heard that this type of loss and grief is unending. I found this great organization called Parker's Place Foundation and I thought you might benefit from it. I would like to connect you by sharing their website with you."

If you are afraid of approaching this topic out of fear that it will bring up additional pain for the parents, don't be. This pain is something that is always there. They remember their child daily and likely feel grief on some level every day. It is my experience that offering a resource that can provide help and healing will most likely be welcomed and appreciated and would not cause additional hurt or pain. 

Throughout my grieving process these past seven, almost eight, years I have experienced several different stages/phases. I went through a period of time when I withdrew from others and times when I found that I couldn't talk about Parker enough. When I reflect back on those different times, I know that I would have welcomed someone reaching out to me at any time to provide resources that would support my grieving process and connect me with others who understand my pain. 

So, if you find yourself debating whether or not to share Parker's Place Foundation with someone you know, someone who could benefit from this organization, I encourage you to go ahead. Reach out in love and show you care by introducing them to Parker's Place Foundation.

Author: Janelle Demaree

 

 

 

Healing those who have lost too soon