To My Fellow Grieving Mothers

On the 4th anniversary of my youngest son’s death, I’m sharing this piece beautifully written by Michelle Haxby with those of you that have lost a child. Sadly, I know quite a few of you.

You and I have never met, but yet we visit the same place every day. We both walk down the same unguided dark path. We cling to memories as if it’s our life support. Our minds drift off to that same place, the place that temporarily distracts us from our grief.

You’re the one person who knows the way my stomach feels — the unhealed knot in the center of my gut. You know the hollowness in my heart. Your tears are the same shape as mine, and they roll off the cheek without warning. You smile just like me. It’s a smile that has been perfected so others would stop wondering about your state of health and when or if you would pull through this.

Our deep exhale has been performed countless times, since the reminder to breathe is still necessary.

Only you understand the box in the closet where we keep the little things — the items that most people wouldn’t find a connection to. But we do. We can find that connection. Maybe it’s a ribbon, a stone or a piece of paper someone had written your child’s name on. An article of clothing that was last worn as we try desperately to preserve their smell.

This isn’t the same box with all the newborn items in it. This is a different box than the cutely decorated one that holds baby blankets, hospital bands, old pacifiers and first haircut clippings. This box is kept much further back in the closet, almost hidden as if it’s a secret.

You are the only one in this world who can look me in the eyes and say, “I get it.” Dear friend, how I wish you didn’t get it.

Like clockwork, I lie awake in my bed every night. I know you’re probably doing the same. As lonely as I feel sometimes, I know you’re feeling lonely, too. As indescribable as my pain is, I know you understand. It’s like a silent language that neither one of us wants to speak.

Our children’s stories are most likely different. The paths that led us here are probably nothing alike. It’s what happened in the after that forever bonds us now. It’s the pain of burying our child that makes our scars the same and our paths cross.

I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone, but yet to know you exist is somewhat of a selfish comfort for me. It’s the only place I find acceptance — to know that someone out there is just like me. I know with you that my tears aren’t measured and my sadness is never judged. The length of the time I grieve will never be rushed, all the wrong things will never be said and you understand sometimes silence is enough. 

My sadness will never make you uncomfortable because our words fit together like a puzzle. Even though I’m a stranger, my heartache brings you to tears. You live with that forever emptiness, too.

So as I pray my nightly prayers, I always include you — the mother I’ll never meet. You’re the other person out there who shares my same grief. I hope you find some comfort in knowing you’re not alone and that there’s someone out there like you.

CJ Tinkle

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Donna Rowe

    CJ, I have not experienced the depth of grief of losing a child. I pray for comfort for you! Love you!

  2. Susan

    Hugs and Hugs😢

  3. Paula

    My son died almost two years ago. I have followed your blog since we bought our RV many years ago. Found we have so much in common. And then this too. I know your pain. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. tinksquared

      I’m so very sorry for your incredible loss Paula. Hugs and blessings to you.

  4. Melinda

    Thank you for sharing this. My son died five months ago. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. tinksquared

      I am so sorry Melinda. Your pain is so fresh it must be overwhelming. Hugs and blessings to you.

  5. Debbie Brander

    It will be 13 years on April 23rd that we lost our 30 year old son to cancer. We never get over the loss, we get through it, hopefully, and learn to live with it, but it is always with us. I’m so sorry for your loss. There is saying that your President, Joe Biden, says that is so true. “There will come a day, I promise you, when the thought of your son, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye”. Thank you for sharing Michelle Haxbys words, there is comfort in sharing our experiences.

    1. tinksquared

      I am sorry for your loss, and thank you Debbie. My son was 29. Yes, we learn to live with it. I haven’t reached the point where a smile comes first. I hope that you have. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Janyce Rotunno

    Hugs and prayers for you CJ. Thank you for posting this. It is so hard to lose a child. It’s been almost nine years for me

    1. tinksquared

      It goes by so fast and yet every year feels like a lifetime. Bless you Janyce.

  7. Diane Obernesser

    No matter what loss you have felt, there is an amazing comfort in finding someone who truly understands how you feel. You are in my prayers.

  8. Cynthia

    Thank you for sharing this. Love You

  9. Michele Engebretson

    Hugs to you. I just can’t imagine.

  10. Kathy

    CJ, I had no idea of your loss. Having a son of my own I can’t even imagine the loss you feel.

  11. scher

    Thank you CJ my son has been gone 6 yrs and understand the grief…tears though out reading. Will have to go back when eyes are dry….thoughts and prayers always to you and moms like us.

    1. tinksquared

      Bless you Scher, I’m so sorry for your loss. Hugs and blessings 🙂

  12. mo pinwil

    Thank you for those beautiful words and I identify with those feelings. xx

    1. tinksquared

      I’m so sorry Maureen, hugs and blessings to you.

  13. LINDA CARRUS

    Thank you for this..I forwarded to my Friend of 50 yrs who lost her Son 3 years ago this May. Your words were perfect . It is hard to know what is the right thing to say….you helped me today. Bless you

    1. tinksquared

      I’m so sorry for your friends loss Linda. You’re right, there really aren’t any words. Hugs!

  14. Anne Carpenter

    It is hard to know what to say to a mother who has suffered the loss of a child. I cannot imagine. I am sorry for the pain of your loss, which no doubt stings in ways I cannot even begin to understand. Thinking of you.

    1. tinksquared

      Thank you Anne. There really isn’t anything to say. A hug is better than any word. 🥰

  15. Sue Lord

    Thank you so much for your post. It has been almost ten years for me. There are days when a smile comes before a tear. There are days when the tear comes first. My husband and I lost children four years apart. Thanks again for the post. We belong to a club that no one wants to join.

    1. tinksquared

      I’m so sorry Sue. Honestly, I can’t imagine a day when a smile will come before a tear.

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