Even therapists get it wrong sometimes.
Especially therapists that only know what child loss is supposed to look like from books and lectures.
I understand how logical it seems that a parent should be able to accept his or her child is no longer alive. After all, most of us saw our child’s lifeless body and performed whatever rituals our hearts find most comforting.
We haven’t received a phone call, text, message or new photograph. Weeks, months and years pass and no word.
Of course this child is gone.
But a mama’s heart still hopes. Somewhere deep down there is a part of me that longs for connection to this child I carried, nurtured and loved.
So sometimes my heart will play tricks on me.
It started just after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
I was the one who had to make phone calls and inform the family of his passing, repeating the awful words over and over and over. So my head got it right away.
Dominic was dead. He was not coming back. There was nothing I could do about it.
Still, I found that for the first year or year and a half, every time I went somewhere we usually went together or attended a family function or celebration where we’d all be in one room, I looked for him.
- If someone came around the corner and I caught a glimpse of a shoulder-could that be him?
- If voices drifted upstairs-maybe that’s Dom’s laugh down there?
- A whiff of soap or shampoo on the grocery aisle-was he just ahead of me?
Ridiculous. Maybe. But very, very real.
Now these six years later that hardly ever happens. Once or twice a year, when the family is together and especially if we are together in a crowd of other people, I’ll kind of “look” for him-on the fringes, around the edges, his voice maybe mixed in with others.
I do still sit silent in the dark hours of early morning shaking my head and saying aloud, “How can Dominic really be dead?”.
But that’s not denial of the fact he is gone.
It’s acknowledgement of how hard it is to live with that truth.