“I Got to Be His Mother…”: Parenting After the Loss of a Child

Death is hard enough. Losing a child to death must be the most heartbreaking thing imaginable.

Linda Dahlstrom Anderson is a loving mother of two and she had to do the hardest thing a parent could ever do – she buried one of her babies.

Throught it all, she learned that it is possible to survive things even when you think you can’t. And eventually she came to understand that the heart “is big enough to hold both the love and the loss”.

Yes… LOVE really does go on forever.

This beautiful article tells her story.

It happens most often when I’m driving. My 9-year-old son will be in the backseat talking or playing a game on my phone. And sometimes in my mind’s eye, next to him, I see his 11-year-old brother, a slightly bigger version but with blue eyes. Sometimes they’ll giggle together or argue about who is taking up more room.
I have two sons. It’s just that one of them is now dead.
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Phoenix was 7 months and 4 days old when he died in July 2005 of bacterial meningitis serogroup B, a strain that, at the time, didn’t yet have an approved vaccine in the U.S.
When I think of him now, I always see two versions of him: the baby he was when he died — and the boy he’d be if he’d lived.
Phoenix and Gabriel, who was born a year-and-a-half after his brother died, never met — something I think about every Mother’s Day as proud moms flood social media with photos of their children. I will never have a photo of my two boys together, so instead I post two separate pictures: the latest one of my vibrant Gabriel mugging for the camera, and a photo from Phoenix’s short life.
I sometimes worry that our friends will grow weary of seeing the same unchanging photos of Phoenix year after year, but it’s important to me that I post them. He did live. He was the boy who made me a mother — and then taught me that even death is no barrier to the love between a parent and child. It goes on forever.
When Phoenix was alive, each day was filled with blissfully routine activities: dressing him, feeding him, bathing him, playing with him, cuddling him, taking him for walks, reading him books, putting him in pajamas, rocking him to sleep and on and on.
All that instantly stopped the evening he died, but my hardwired drive to take care of Phoenix didn’t. For months after, I felt I couldn’t start my day unless I chose an outfit for him. In those few moments each morning, when I picked out his clothes, held them to my face and desperately tried to identify even a remnant of his scent, I could be his mother again in a way that felt familiar.
After all these years, there is only one thing left that I can physically do for him. It’s a tradition that started around the first Mother’s Day following Phoenix’s death. I wait for a nice day each May, take my pink cleaning bucket out of the closet and fill it with sponges and scrubbers.
Then I go to the historic Seattle cemetery where he is buried, where I wash his grave marker with soap, something the funeral home suggested my husband and I do once per year to maintain the stone. It is the last thing I can do for him. It is the last way I know to take care of him.

Go over to Mashable to read the full article for more on Linda’s story.

Original Image Source: istolethetv