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When a Baby Dies: Picking Up the Pieces

How to find the strength to go on and find your way toward healing.

When a baby dies, a parent’s grief runs deep.

This kind of grief saps the parent’s physical and emotional strength. Especially during the first year, many parents doubt they can survive this experience. Their devastation feels too all-encompassing, coloring everything around them. The trauma makes it difficult to imagine ever healing. Ever.

If you’re a bereaved parent, you can identify with that bottomless feeling of hopelessness. Especially during the first year, you may resent the fact that everyone around you carries on with life, while yours has come to a screeching halt.

How can you find the strength to go on?

Of course, you long for a return to “normal.” You’d give anything to recover your baby—and your innocence, your belief that you have control over your destiny, and your faith that bad things don’t happen to good people. But you also harbor the sense that you can’t return to naiveté. Not now. Not when you know your babies can die.

And then comes the sobering realization that your life will never be the same. Get back to normal? Impossible.

So where do you go from here? How will you ever manage to stretch out again, much less come out of your shell? How can you find your way?

By grieving.

And as a result of going with the flow of your grief, you find yourself slowly and naturally starting to unclench and peek outward. In other words, as you grieve, you are also healing. And eventually, believe it or not, you can find peace and acceptance. Ultimately, you can honor the memory of your baby by living your life to the fullest.

Of course, if you could do it all over again, you’d rather keep your baby and you’d gladly forego all your hard won knowledge, insight, confidence, and maturity.

This knowledge—that you possess this level of strength and resilience—fuels your confidence. It inspires you to embrace this journey and your new normal. And the one thing you can know for sure is that your baby’s most powerful legacy is your life, well-lived.