Child Loss · fatherhood · Grief · marriage · Parenting

In This Family, No One Grieves Alone

To comfort one who shares your grief gives your heart permission to grieve, and allows you to feel known and understood in the middle of your deepest pain.

They pronounced his time of death, August 21, 2014, 9:30PM. They called us into the room and as I cried out in pain, my son’s lungs dispelled the last bit of oxygen that was trapped within. I heard myself almost as a spectator to my own pain, “My son, My son, Oh my son!” John and I wept. I lay my head on Mattie’s chest. John’s arm firmly around me. He leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You’re not going to lose me.”

Moments later, we would have to break the news to our children. We walked into the room where our four oldest sat waiting for us, they stood, and we dropped to our knees. I can’t remember what we said. Maybe we said, “He’s gone.” Maybe our faces said the words we couldn’t utter. They wrapped themselves around us.

It’s hard to remember who was holding who was holding who, but we were all one, love wrapped around love wrapped around love. And though words would fail us, we promised our children that they would not grieve alone. I remember being so emphatic as I said, “No one in this family will grief alone. No one will hide their pain. We are in this together.”

The following day, I was sitting in the living room, and Amy came to get me. She said, “John’s in Mattie’s room, and I think he needs you.” I found my husband weeping on the couch where we spent countless hours loving on our boy together. Our children followed me and again we wrapped our love around each other, and we mourned.

Perhaps it is significant that my beautiful husband was the first to weep in our home, telling us all in his frailty, “No one in this family will grief alone. No one will hide their pain. We are in this together.”

He would speak clearly to each of us the day of the funeral, and commit his love to us. You can read his words HERE.

He would protect us in the days to come and shelter us in his love.

He led the way for grief to have a place in our home.

And now, here we are almost 8 months later, still grieving together.

So today we were all just trying to get through the day, trying to make the best of a day that felt very empty. Tears and sadness flowed from one to the other. Aiden cried as he got out of the shower. I dressed him and took him to Mattie’s drawer to pick out one of Buddy’s bow ties. Emma was crying at the drop of a hat, not even knowing why, until she suddenly burst out, “I miss Mattie”. All three of the Littles, clean and dressed sat in the living room, looking at photos of their sweet brother.  Taylor and Isabelle gave hugs that said they knew. Hugs that said, we feel it too. Meanwhile Amy and Nick were making dinner to take the pressure off of me, preparing a place for us to be together as a family today.

I kept moving forward trying to make the day happen. John and I snapped at each other a few times. It doesn’t happen often with us, but sometimes grief gets snippy. Aiden asked for John and I told him, “Daddy’s upstairs, go hug him, I bet he could really use a hug.”

I watched Aiden start up the stairs just as John was headed down. Both my boys in their blue shirts and ties looking handsome and oh so terribly sad.

Aiden glanced into the eyes of his daddy and said, “What’s wrong, Daddy?”

John replied, “I’m sad. I miss Buddy.”

John stooped down. Aiden reached around and held his daddy, stroking his back, his head, with no words because none were needed. Love wrapped around love, wrapped around love- to be known and understood. And I watched as my husband sobbed in Aiden’s arms, grieving his own loss and carrying the weight of AIden’s grief as well.

Because in this family, no one grieves alone.

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5 thoughts on “In This Family, No One Grieves Alone

  1. I read this over my morning cup of coffee. I was going to pass it by, but felt to read it. My heart sighed with a weightiness unfamiliar to me – the intimacy of the loss, the intimacy of a grief shared – and I realize the strength you have gained from the vulnerable sharing. I have no words to speak because I do not know. I have no hugs because my arms are not long enough to touch you, but our Father knows and our Father’s arms reach and touch each of you in individual intimacy. He knows and he loves and in the prayers others extend towards you, he strengthens.

  2. No words, just sadness. My heart aches for you and with you. I too miss Mattie Sam!

  3. I’m so sorry…my heart aches for your entire family and all those who had the honor of knowing precious Mattie personally. I imagine it’s left a gaping hole where HE should be. I know you find at least some comfort in knowing he’s with Jesus, and whole again and knowing you’ll all be reunited one day. And yet that loss is still profound.
    I am glad you all have each other and that you both, as parents, gave your kiddos “permission” to express their sadness and to cry when they need to. It especially struck me, the image of Aiden comforting his daddy…how precious that must have been, how meaningful and comforting for both of them! So often, many adults think we can’t let children see us cry–and it never occurred to me that when appropriate, it’s OKAY to allow a child to comfort an adult!
    I remember when my beloved Nana died…She too died in August….August 19th. I had turned 9 yrs. old a few months prior. I didn’t understand death. I didn’t yet know God in a meaningful way. And, I had a stepfather that did not allow feelings of sadness or anger –and yet he was allowed to show anger–and often did! To this day I can remember my neck actually HURTING with the effort to stifle my tears! And what was almost as sad as my loss is that I succeeded–and was proud of that!
    Praying for your aching hearts as you grieve your sweet boy… Hugs!

  4. I miss Mattie’s smile and your family’s sweet faces as I walk by rooms he was in when in the PICU. Just know he and your family left a sweet imprint and I will never forget!

  5. I could not stop my tears from flowing…I’m sorry to read of your loss…your sweet husband. You are so blessed to have each other and such worderful, sensitive, warm and loving children in your family. I cannot say enough about how blessed you are. I hope and pray that you find the peace you need to create the magnificence beyond your storm. Hugs and prayers

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