Grieving Child Loss

Grief is like the ocean; It comes on like waves ebbing and flowing

By Tracy Sheppard

As I sit on my back deck on this warm and humid May day, the wind is blowing in a warm muggy breeze. The trees are dancing and swaying. The sturdy white oak tree is like a mother to the leaves. Most appear to be securely attached to her core. Then a big gust blows by, and one lonely leaf has blown away, never to be held by its mother again. I am grieving the loss of a child.

I am like that tree. Sturdy and strong most of the time. Blessed to have the leaves that I so strongly have protected and nurtured. Overwhelmed with sadness and heartache over the leaf that wasn’t strong enough and blew away.
There are no words to describe what it feels like to have a piece of your soul ripped away, but this grief feels like the ocean waves.

“Grief is like the ocean; It comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison

My sweet angel physically left our earthly world, 2 ½ years ago. There isn’t a minute of the day that passes that I don’t miss her. That longing, and emptiness is so strong, it can still bring me to my knees. A part of my soul was ripped away on that August day. I will never be the same person I was before that day. How could I be?

This journey called grief

For me, this grief journey has been one of anger, heartache, sadness, uncertainty, unfairness, faith, friendship, and love just to name a few.
While at the beach, watching the sunrise, and listening to the waves crashing in, I felt a sense of peace come over me. I wrote my daughter’s name in the sand. Within seconds, the tide came in and washed it away. Like life, one day you are here in the physical world, and within an instant you are carried away from it.
The sun rising over the ocean, in a sense for me, was more than just an orb rising over the water. It is a new beginning. A new day. A day to be thankful. A day to make my daughter proud. A day to relish in. Knowing that the tide could come in any second and erase another name away.
I miss my daughter, every second of everyday. When I wrote her name in the sand, I wanted her there with me. To hold her hand. To see her smile and laugh, as she saw the pelican walking the beach. Hearing her giggle when watching the seagulls swooping down to grab a scrap of food that was left behind. To see the joy in her eyes, at the sheer beauty of the ocean. That part of my soul is always missing.

Forever, there will be a hole in my heart

Only I have the power to let that hole in my heart continue to gape or keep my promise to her that we will not live a life of complete sorrow. Some days that promise is kept. Some days the grief is so strong, that the hole gapes wide open. It’s ok! I don’t beat myself up over my feelings. They are mine. I own them. No one else does.

Societies expectations of grief

Societies expectations of what they think grief is, doesn’t weigh on my shoulders like it did in the beginning. Many days the waves are calm and peaceful. On the days the waves are stormy and strong, I allow the waves to take me. It’s ok to not be able to swim all the time. Sometimes, I have to almost drown, in order to realize how strong, I am. I can succumb to the storm, and fight the waves, and know that I won’t drown. I see her holding her hand out to me. She says “Mommy you are strong, I know you feel weak right now, but take my hand, just like I always took yours. I am your strength now.” She wants me to be happy. She wants me to live life. No matter how hard that may be some days. I will try hard to do it! I will always do it for her!

I will take on the waves. I will surf over some and come out victorious. The big ones I take on may pull me under. I may feel like I am drowning when taking on some of the waves. But, I have no doubt those big waves will always spit me back out, and my daughter will be there with her hand outstretched to pull me through. She was always my strength. Even though we are separated in body, we will forever be entwined by love and spirit. The wind will always be her whisper. The sun will always be her warmth. The ocean waves will always be her sweet kisses on my cheek, reminding me she is with me always, wherever I may go.

Life is precious and unpredictable

Tracy Sheppard & daughterRide the wave no matter how small or large it is. In a second that wave could be gone, never to be seen or heard from ever again. Embrace it, and give thanks for the precious, beautiful, thing we call life. One day we will all be just a name in the sand.

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