To a Parent Who Has Lost Their Child: In the First Year

To a Parent Who Has Lost Their Child It seemed as if you turned toward/somewhere else, away from all/our help, so that we are left to/ask for your help now, not in answers/but in asking all the difficult/and beautiful questions your life/bequeathed. —David Whyte

10 months ago, I lost one of my favourite people. A kindred spirit (though he’d roll his eyes at that). At 23, my son Jairus had his own best friends, but he was one of mine. He made my life better, more interesting, funnier. Harder. I loved spending time with him, and he helped me become a better human.

But when he left, I felt battered. Battered and bruised and desperately weary.

I felt like I had been run over by a freight train, my crushed lungs fought for breath and my muscles ached for reprieve. I felt like my spirit had been used as a punching bag and I was left in a state of shock; an essential piece of my own body, mind, and spirit had been violently ripped away.

Grief is visceral, not reasonable: the howling at the center of grief is raw and real. It is love in its most wild form. -Megan Devine

Loving a child who suffers is hard work. There is no guidebook for this journey which is at least top 3 in my” list of hardest things.” Loving someone who suffers means you say yes to advocating, pouring out, holding fast, putting your own needs to the side because everything you have to give is on reserve for the one who hurts most.

But you hold it all together, take another breath, and keep fighting. Because of course, you’d give your own life in exchange for his. If you could.

Help remove shame and stigma and share a message of hope around living with mental illness or simply being human in a messy world through the O’DaviDesign Art Scholarship.

Child Loss is a New Letting Go Every Morning

If there being no guidebook for the journey falls in my top 3 hardest things about loving someone who suffers, so does the reality that you’d do it all over again a million times because you love your child fiercely but you don’t get that chance. They are gone. Every morning they are gone.

Every morning and every birthday and every Mother’s Day and Christmas and anniversary of their death they are gone all over again. Every time one of their friends gets married or announces an engagement or a new career on Facebook, every time your girlfriends talk about their adult children, you are reminded anew that your precious, wanted, needed child is gone. They were real and they were loved, and they were here and now they are gone. One day their younger sisters will grow older than them.

The choices of a grieving parent feel limited: give in to your rage and despair and a sorrow so deep and threatening it could surely drown an entire town or choose to live anyway. Choosing to live anyway means saying yes to living with pain too big for you to address all at once. Choosing to look for hope when a piece of your heart has been ripped out of your body and there are days that the only thing you can do is climb back into bed early afternoon and hope for the comfort of sleep. Choosing to show up to each day for your children who remain, no matter what, because they matter too. They deserve a full, beautiful life and a mom who is present and whole for them.

Regardless of how much beauty there is in your life, how much you have to live for, it’s an agony unlike any other to shove all the raw and unruly pain and fear and grief and love for your missing child into a corner of your body so you have some room leftover for life. It is a cruel thing that the world has continued spinning instead of pausing to acknowledge your child’s absence.


Join me for the rest of this post over at Jaymie wrote a beautiful song that accompanies my writing. My post is one in a short series featuring someone who, as she writes, “has walked (or more likely crawled and clawed through) a painstaking journey with mental health afflictions and loss.”

To a parent who has lost their child – you (we) are allowed to keep living. We are strong enough to do this.

Krista xo


You're imperfect. Life is messy. Show up anyway. I'll help you figure out how.

(Ease your anxiety with my Brain Download Worksheet ↡)
Yes Please!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *