Monday, June 17, 2013

Born Grieving....

While walking through the Dallas airport last November, I saw a big poster that made me think. It was a poster advertising grief camp for kids who have lost a family member. Then it hit me. My children are going to be born grieving. Grieving an older sister whom they will never meet, they will never get to hug, they will never get to play with, they will never get to learn from. Saoirse's siblings will never have one day without grief. Not one day of innocent childhood joy, free from cares, and free from fear. What kind of childhood is that? A childhood of sadness. Of missing an older sister from day one. Of grief counseling and bereavement camps. Of "yes, I have a sister, but I never met her." Of an imaginary friend who they didn't make up. 

As I sit feeling a growing baby inside me, I wonder what kind of a person he will become. How Saoirse and her short life will shape his. How he will feel being born to grieving parents. How I, as a grieving mom, will be able to give him all he needs of me. I wonder what his childhood will be like. If he will resent being compared to Saoirse's "perfection" as a baby and toddler. If he will grow tired of hearing the same few stories about her life as he gets older. I want him to love his big sister, not resent her and her influence on our family's emotions. 

I want him to look up to Saoirse and her strength, and strive to live each day as it comes and enjoy every moment. But I know he will have to endure dealing with coming to terms with death and pediatric cancer earlier than most people. He will have to learn early that no one is "safe," and that nothing is guaranteed. He will be forced to learn that life is short and precious, and that not only old people die. How will this shape his life? Will it make him want to live each day to it's fullest, or will he be a crazy daredevil who risks life and limb because he knows "life is short"? 

I want Saoirse's short life to be a positive influence on her siblings' lives and characters. I want nothing more than for them to feel empowered to do something positive with their lives in her memory. I want them to feel that we, as their parents, are able to give them as much love as they deserve, and not hold them to impossible standards of achievement and perfection. We will have to work on this together; figuring it out as we go, learning from our mistakes. Maybe bereavement camps aren't such a bad idea after all. 


  1. There's no doubt in my mind that you and Mike will do a wonderful job of keeping Saoirse part of your family and this little boy will feel how much you guys love her and what a difference she has made for so many people and love her to. Follow your heart, listen to Saoirse and he will never grow tired of hearing stories about his special and wonderful older sister.

  2. I cant say I understand, as I have never lost a child, but I did lose my mother in law when my daughter was ten days old. I used to wonder and muse as you do all the what ifs and will I ever be able to help them see her and know her even if its from pictures and stories only? The answer is yes. She is a huge part of their lives and she ismentioned at least every couple of days. It is of course not the same, but it helps me to know that their memories can and will stay alive , even if its only thru

    me! I have no doubt in my mind that you and mike will do a fabulous job in making sure the new little one always has memories of saoirse.

  3. I suspect you are going to see a lot of Saoirse in him. A spirit like hers has a way of living on. Regardless, that little man is going to experience too much love from you and Mike to resent!

  4. I can not wait to see your little man. I think of you and your girl all of the time. Your story has truly affected my life. I do not sweat the small things. I have learned through stories like yours and my own experiences that we should cherish this life because it is fleeting. I can not wait to see your little guy and the life you have breathed into him. I can't wait to see him grow and hear all of your thoughts on this life. So much love to you and your husband.

    Amanda Hammons, Cincinnati.

  5. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story with us.