It’s popular in books, self-help articles and even in some grief groups for people to declare , “Child loss does not (will not, should not) define me”.
And while I will defend to the end another parent’s right to walk this path however seems best and most healing to him or her, to that statement I say, “Bah! Humbug!”
Child loss DOES define me.
It defines me in the same way that motherhood and marriage define me. It defines me as much as any other major milestone, event, choice or experience defines me.
How could it not define me and inform the person I am today?
But it does NOT circumscribe me.
Listen carefully to these next words: Child loss is a huge part of who I am but it does not draw a circle around who I am becoming. It is not a line in the sand I cannot cross. It is not a ball and chain weighing me down and preventing my forward motion.
It is not the ONLY thing I am, but it is an important part of who I am.
In many ways it has made life harder-especially in the first three years after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven. But in other ways it has made my life more open, larger, expansive and inclusive. Child loss has opened my eyes to other hurting hearts in ways I doubt I would have noticed if my own had not been broken. Child loss has taught me the language of compassion and the necessity of listening well to other people. Child loss has rearranged my schedule and my priorities.
It most certainly helps to define the woman I am today.
Would I have chosen it? Absolutely not!
But I won’t waste it.
I choose to enfold it into who I am and what I do and how I live.
I cannot set it aside and ignore it any more than I could set aside my son.