What Surrender Sounds & Feels Like 9 Months after Child Loss

child loss

Inside: Child loss is excruciating. Letting go feels like creating a safe and special corner of my mind and heart in which to gather and house my memories and love for my son so that I have some room left for hope and joyful possibility.

TW: Suicide, grief, child loss

The agony was intense but I knew that something important was happening inside of me. Several times I wondered if I was losing my mind but even in my pain and wrestling it didn’t matter if I was having a nervous breakdown or my experience was psychological or spiritual, I knew I needed to stay present. To live whatever was happening.

On Tuesday, earlier this week, I experienced a profound shift in my grief journey. An unexpected letting go of sorts- not of the beauty of my son’s life or the 23 years we shared together, but of him. For him. For me too.

Child loss is excruciating. Letting go feels like creating a safe and special corner of my mind and heart in which to gather and house my memories and love for my son so that I have some room left for hope and joyful possibility.

It was a wild, uncomfortable, beautiful, horrible, necessary experience. It lasted for hours. I talked with my son and felt him with me in my kitchen. I really felt him. The first time I’ve felt him since he left.

And then I told him what I think he needed to hear. And I needed to tell him. And I meant it.

I forgive you.*

I release you, Jairus.

I honour your choice.

I want you to be free.

So go, Jairus, we will be ok.

I wish you peace. I love you.

I will love you forever.

Mom xo
Aug 4, 2000
288 days

You might also like: On Grief: Living Whole and Brave After Loss (a topical resource page)

A NOTE ON FORGIVENESS AFTER SUICIDE/CHILD LOSS: I do NOT blame my beautiful son for his illness, for how he died, or for the reality of being human in a messy world; I don’t blame him for the pain we’ve all walked through both before and after his death (I ask his forgiveness for not knowing how to do more or better to ease his suffering). He didn’t want to hurt me yet I hurt. I have never hurt before like this. So I offer my beautiful boy my forgiveness because whether he truly was here with me in my kitchen and “heard” me or not, I know he needs to hear it and I need to tell him.

It occurred to me that it takes about nine months, 40 weeks, or 280 days to birth new life into this world and it makes sense that it takes at least 9 months to begin the letting go. I imagine that this will be the hardest work of my entire life.

At 288 days since my son left this world, I was ready to release him.

Telling the truth requires incredible strength, resilience, and bravery. Telling the truth hurts. Tell the truth is my mantra for the year.

I realized that the past nine months had been largely about living rooted in the horror, the pain and intense grief, the panic of such a significant, horrible loss and about helping my girls and my husband take one step then another. It was about survival.

But on Tuesday morning, as I sat outside on a worn and weathered Adirondack chair soaking up the August sunshine, I realized I was ready to turn my face and heart forward. To begin looking ahead with hope and curiosity and even joy.

Child loss is excruciating. Surrender or letting go feels like creating a safe and special corner of my mind and heart in which to gather and house my memories and love for my son so that I have some room left for hope and joyful possibility.

I knew that my experience wasn’t so much about letting go of what was as it was about telling the truth that I am ready to turn toward what will be. Telling the truth requires incredible strength, resilience, and bravery. Telling the truth hurts.

Tell the truth is my mantra for the year.

I have no idea if other parents of child loss and suicide loss in particular experience anything like this. And I certainly don’t think there needs to be one path – I mean, I know there isn’t one path. But I also know that though the grief journey is long and hard and I’ve barely begun the work, something shifted in me earlier this week and I share this to help other grieving parents and to continue removing shame and hiding from the conversations around living with mental illness or suicide loss.

Krista xo

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12 comments on “What Surrender Sounds & Feels Like 9 Months after Child Loss

  1. Krista, you are so brave for sharing this, and I’m sure it will bring encouragement to many. You are also brave for continually choosing to keep going, even when the journey is unbelieveably rough. I am so proud and thankful that you are in my life, and continually amazed at your gift for writing.

  2. You are a beautiful, brave soul. So grateful for you and your choice to be a truth teller and to share your work. I continue to hold space for you and your family. My heart is with you. May you know grace and peace, and may you be gentle with yourself. Much love, Lea

  3. Thank you for sharing this. You are providing a survival or more a living guide to many. I noticed the same shift around a year and a month after our son left us. We are now 1 year and almost 3 months. Jake, forever 24, forever my boy.

  4. So many tears for you Krista. But so much hope in this. Thank you again for sharing your journey with us. Your vulnerability is helpful for others.

  5. My brother committed suicide 41 years ago, when I was a senior in college. After my mother passed away a few months ago, my sisters and I were cleaning out her closet and found a small box of things related to my brother and his death — a few photos, a letter, a card, a childhood drawing. Of all the things in that crowded closet, this little box was the one thing we could not throw away. The grief and the memories last a lifetime. They soften, but they never go away.

    • Dear Bette, I lost my brother Gary to suicide in April 2004. I still grieve and I still miss him. I experienced his presence a little over a year after his death and felt his enormous love for me. He was way too gentle for this earth and I know he suffered here. I wish I had known more about suicide and wish I had known how to help him. The reality is I didn’t know and knowing may not have changed his decision. I am happy for you that you found some things of his. I long for some tangible pieces of him. I do have pictures. My sister washed all his clothes and I was angry with her because I wanted to smell him. I continue to feel the sadness of his leaving. I hope I to be with him wherever I go after this. Thank you and Krista and all who share . It helps.

  6. Thank you, Krista. Reading this helped me release some tears for my boy who is out there somewhere, away from me. Maybe I can forgive him- and myself- while he’s on this side of the veil. Your words help me. And I am so glad you experienced some sun (or perhaps the other spelling) last week. Love, Ellen

  7. Just wanted to send you a hug Krista – from one grieving mother to another. I lost my daughter 10 years ago and it’s been a long (never ending) process. I’ve learned that time heals no wounds, but the pain and sorrow changes.

    My only advice for you is to let yourself grief. Everyone grieves in their own way, so do what feels right to you and reach out for the support that you think suits you best and can be most helpful at any given time.

    I started in a support group for parents and in the beginning I felt most comfortable talking to my minister, probably because she didn’t ask any questions and just let me talk as much as I needed to. Later on I’ve had sessions with a psychologist when I feel I have the need for it. Aside from that, I think running has helped me the most – my mind is always calmer when I’ve finished running <3

    xo – Maria

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