it’s hard to have faith


I can’t imagine anything worse than surviving your own children. It must always be with you, every day of your life. And when you find you’re enjoying yourself, I imagine you feel guilty, even though you know you shouldn’t. I hate that hurt in life, those events that throw your world up in your face and you wonder if you’ll ever return to normal. You don’t even miss happy, just normal. So much of life is terrifying. I hate pain and uncertainty, which are often two in the same but shouldn’t be. "Uncertainty" should be embraced, it should be spelled "opportunity." You should see the unknown as an adventure. Intellectually, you know these things. Emotionally, you want what you want. And it’s so hard to see the possibility that what you want is actually keeping you from something better. It’s hard to have faith.

A YEAR AGO: A Year of Montage
3 YEARS AGO: Austin, Alone Feels More Than Together
5 YEARS AGO: Who or What is Your Muse?



  1. My husband's oldest son died of a tumor on his brain stem when he was 10. You never "get over" it, but life does go on and it is possible to laugh again without guilt.

  2. I had twins in Feb. 2004. Halfway through, we found out our daughter would not live long after birth, nothing to be done. But our son was healthy. It was an emotionally confusing time, excited and scared. I felt guilty for being excited about my son. I felt guilty for being sad about my daughter. I had to plan a baby shower and a funeral. I see him and think of what is missing. I have a wonderful reminder of her in him, and sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not. But I had to go on for him. I couldn't let him feel my saddness all the time. They were born 6 1/2 weeks early. She lived for 52 hours. He was in the NICU for 23 days. If I wanted to see my children I either had to go to the hospital or the cemetary. I will never get over her, but I laugh with him, and love them both. Grace Elizabeth taught me to love unconditionally, even though she would not be in my arms for long, I didn't hold back on loving her. Ethan Michael taught me to live and love through the heartache. They are both with me everyday.

  3. Veronica, I cried at your story. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I'm so glad for the love you have for each of your children. How beautiful and bittersweet.

  4. Wow Veronica. To have all of those emotions at one time. Wow. My nephew died at 14. He was electrocuted. People always say to my sister, "I'd just die if something like that ever happened to my child." Her response is always a somber, "No, you don't die." Which is heartbreaking to hear her say because I know she's living with the pain. It is hers to carry now. I do what I can, but I know that pain isn't going away.

  5. I think this is every parents nightmare. And even if I´m not religious, here`s what I always pray for: that this may never happen to my family.

    Veronica, your story made me cry. All the best to you and yours.

  6. Wow, bizarre timing. I went to a funeral home for a child's visitation last night. There is nothing to say to my coworker or the rest of the family other than "I'm sorry." These things should not happen, but they do, and now all survivors have to find a way to live with it. Awful.

    PS – though there is nothing one can say or do in these horrible moments, I really wish the religious would keep their dumb comments to themselves. Last night I heard "well, I guess God wanted another angel." Know what? His parents wanted him as a live child even more.

  7. My only and younger brother died in 2002 in a car crash. He was 23. It was devastating for my parents. It was also devastating for me. I had to handle all the arrangements from identifying the body to arranging the funeral to telling his insurance company and student loan lenders what had happened. My parents just couldn't, not at the time. And things move so fast when someone dies suddenly.

    You get through it. I've watched my parents work through it as I've worked through it. You resent, for awhile, how normal everyone else's lives seem and you wonder how it is that they can just glide on by without knowing your pain. But eventually you go back to normalcy. It's never the same, but you can't just stop. There are too many others who need and love you to just shut down and give up.

    MJ–I agree with the whole Hallmark platitude shit. I couldn't stand hearing people say "It was your brother's time. It was God's will." How the fuck would they know that? But you can't tell your 3rd grade teacher to sod off, now can you?

  8. Saying "I'm Sorry" is better than saying nothing at all. When you advert your eyes and ignore the situation, because you don't want to bring up a painful subject, that hurts even more. Parents need their living and non-living children acknowledged. And comments about they are in a better place, or god wanting an angel or even "god would not give you what you couldn't handle" is like a knife in the heart. Just say your are sorry for their loss. It's all the parent need. Just an acknowledgement of their pain.

  9. I have just started a job working with families who have lost children to heart disease. It is unbelievably heart-breaking (no pun intended), but the strength of the people and families I have the honor to work with, is awe-inspiring.

    Veronica – so sorry for your loss.

  10. Your post hits close to home for me. That's so true… It's hard to have faith, and keep positive, when you want to be normal. Just to have a moment where everything is as it was, before your world turned upside down. Friends and family don't know what to say, and sometimes, all you want to do is talk about your child. In a matter of 6 months, I had friends who lost their children in the OKC Bombing, my god child was murdered at the age of 2, all this I endured while I was pregnant. Then, my precious son passed away at 16 days old. He passed away of S.I.D.S. — there were no signs, no symptoms, no warnings, no way of stopping it. And though it will be 14 years in May, there are days, that it feels like it happened yesterday.

    Sorry.. didn't mean to ramble. Just felt close to this post. It is, very hard, to have faith sometimes.

  11. MJ – I'm religious and I agree with you 100%. It is horrifying that someone would think to offer such pat "answers" as any kind of comfort. Some people, religious or otherwise, are just severely lacking in tact. To say the least.

  12. I'm so sorry Veronica.
    If I may relate my story.
    I too was pregnant with twins in 2004. I found out at 18 weeks along that I was having twins and there was a 'concern' about the boy. A week later, during a level 2 ultra-sound, it was confirmed immediately that my son would be born with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate. My daughter appeared to be fine. I cried and cried on the table in front of everyone devastated I 'did' something so my boy wouldn't be born with his face whole. I imagine the next hardest thing the doctor had to do was allow me to digest the information so she could then inform me an amnio should be done as a cleft lip/palate can be indicative of over 300 syndromes. Two of them deadly, Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 18. My thinking shifted in that split second to hoping a cleft lip/palate would be all that was wrong.

    It was the longest few weeks of my life. I tried to imagine exactly all those things you are living with on a daily basis. How I would do it. How would I cope. I was numb. I wondered if God really did give more then can be handled.

    At our last perinatologist visit, the doctor said it appeared as if at most of his nose, maxilla and jaw were missing. His amnio showed he was otherwise healthy. I was so relieved about the otherwise normal tests. We didn't even pick out a name until I was well into my 7th month of pregnancy. My daughter's name we picked out, my son… I can't explain it. I was in denial. Like somehow if I didn't 'name' him, the loss wouldn't be as great. I don't know, it was just how I dealt with it.

    Zachary Emanuel was the name we chose. He was born June 23 that year along with his sister. Though his face was not formed right, it was at least all there. Not the gaping hole we thought it would be. It'll be a good many years for him to get on the other side, but I learned a HUGE lesson from this.

    They'll be 5 in June and I'm grateful for so many things.

    I cry for your story and you're so brave and strong. I can't imagine your loss.

    I don't want to outlive my children and yet, there are no guarantees. I suppose that's where faith (and hope) come in.

    Best to you.

  13. ~S
    You have been through a tremendous amount of loss. I am sorry you got no warning and that you were only able to feel your son in your arms for such a short amount of time. But a mother's love never dies.

    Have any of you heard the song Precious child?

    If anyone ever wants to know how a parent really feels after losing a child this will answer the questions.

    Thank you all for you kind comments.

  14. Doesn't it ever just make you angry? That there are people living normal lives, people who don't really deal with loss beyond an aging grandparent or parent? I know we all have problems, that life is hard for all of us, but it's not equal. Some people get dealt a lot more… but then I remind myself that it all comes down to perspective. As many of you just stated so beautifully. My cousin threw himself off a building in NYC. He was a twin. His twin sister died when she was five days old. What their father went through, burying an infant, and then, after taking on three jobs to give his kids an education, put his son through law school, to have your son commit suicide… I know how we get through, I do. In a daze, with constant anxiety, connecting in pain, connecting by paying attention. Waiting for laughter, for comfort, for security… and also knowing we're not alone.

  15. Stephanie,

    I suppose it could make one angry, sure there are times to have a little pity party, and sometimes I wonder if the tears, the pain, the laughter, the love are really worth it in the end. What IF it's all just a big fat nothing when we leave?

    It seems to come down to the fact that nothing is without price. Nothing. It's just being able to reconcile that fact. We wouldn't know happiness if we didn't know sadness, up without down, love without loss. I think it's what we choose to take from life's lessons that make or break us as humans. I'm still scared. I sometimes look at my kids and think 'what if…', and the worst enters my head. It makes me hug and kiss them at exactly that moment and burn the memory into my brain. Sometimes they think I'm nuts and that's ok. I look at my parents and suddenly realize they're older and goodbye is closer every day.

    Regarding what you said about people living 'normal' lives and not dealing with loss beyond 'the way it's supposed to happen', that is the lesson to what I was referencing upon my experience. Not one of us escapes this life. No matter what, no one gets out alive. I feel blessed in a very strange, odd way. Life IS truly fragile and where there's life there's hope. Rich, poor, kings, queens… life IS a great equalizer. For me, I'm not impressed by 'things' or riches. I no longer feel envy about someone having 'more' or 'better' I can honestly and truly say that if I had a choice between all the wealth, beauty, and riches put at my feet in exchange for what I've learned and what I have now, I wouldn't take it. I also wouldn't begrudge the person next to me who would take it. There's something about grasping your soul and knowing each breath is a gift that puts things in perspective. Now, it's not like I walk around all zen-like with a goofy, "I have life's secret" smile on my face. I'm nuts, I gossip, I laugh, I'm hyper, I have my 'why me' days, I have a wicked, evil sense of humor, I drink wine and eat fatty food, my pants are too tight and my house is a disaster! My laundry is perpetually un-done, I find peanut butter on my couch and the cats claw my furniture. And I get frustrated with it all.
    Then I remember it can all change in a NY minute.
    Life is scary, but life is good.
    We just have to come to terms with the fact that nothing is forever.
    This can be good AND bad.
    All we can do is follow our hearts and be true to ourselves. And I also genuinely listen to and admire the strength of people like Veronica, and S, and the other women who posted here.

  16. My aunt had identical boy twins, one of them died during labour. She never talks about him, but I once saw her tear up when Eric Clapton's 'Tears in Heaven' played while we were having coffee in a café. She just sighed that it was one of her favourite songs. This was over 30 years after her loss. Loosing a child is something you don't wish to happen to anybody.
    But the whole deal on how uncertainty should be opportunity is BS. People who are uncertain about their job or health of a loved one won't regard it as an opportunity for adventure.

  17. Thank you for all the kind words, everyone.. And thank you for that link to the song Veronica, I hadn't heard it, and it's beautiful.

    Stephanie, The only time that I find myself getting angry, is when people take the small things for granted. Life is so short, and so delicate. Sure, everyone is dealt different struggles, and yes… at times, it seems like some are dealt a lot more. I told my mom, that I understand that everything happens for a reason, and there is a lesson for the things we are put through, but sometimes, I'm tired of learning. You hit the nail on the head, you get through in a daze, and when you come out on the other side, you wonder how you made it, and you can't explain how you made it, just that you are somehow at point C.

    All grief is hard, it all challenges every fiber of your being. We all handle it differently, and regardless of the level or type of pain, it's all relative as it's all pain. Sadly, grief shows no favoritism, and it effects us all.

  18. I completely agree with the poster who talked about the stupid thing people say. When my husband died, I got "He's in a better place." I wanted to answer, "Really, if it's so great would you like to switch places with him?"

  19. My oldest daughter, Veronica, is a twin. It's just that her sister, Stefanie, is in Heaven. I remember the first time I made it through a day without crying. And the first time I laughed. And the guilt I felt. Now she is ten and Isabella is eight. Do I miss Stefanie? Every second of every day. But, life can still be beautiful. Thank you for the beautiful blog.

  20. My best friend's precious little girl and my "niece" died of SIDS when she was 38 days old. For 38 short days she brought love and joy to everyone around her. She touched people the way that I've never seen. My friend struggles every day – sometimes it is triggered by the smallest thing, a tree, a restaurant, a song, a scent. It's heartbreaking to see her go through this.

    I'll never forget what I saw the day of the funeral. I have panic attacks at work sometimes when I sit and think about it.

    Veronica, you're right – acknowledging it is the best thing you can do for the family who is going through it. It lets them know that the spirit of their baby is still with them.

    I'm hopeful every day that they'll be blessed with another baby, but I'll never forget that little girl who was in my life for such a short time

  21. Our second daughter died in January. One of the cards we received was signed inside.."you'll get through this because you have to"…at the time we received it, a few days after her death, I thought it was the most insensitive and trite comment I'd ever read.

    But. …

    She was right, you do get through it. Somehow, although broken, your heart stays beating, and your arms and legs, while heavy with the emotional weight of your loss, still continue to move.

    But I don't think we will ever, can ever, get over this. Ever. We are forever changed, forever humbled by the fragility of life, and will forever struggle to find a new normal. We can never be, and will never be, who we were the days, hours, or even minutes before she died.

    We will always have a whole in our family, and holes in our hearts that only our sweet girl can fill.

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