The Mask of a Grieving Parent

Grieving parents wear masks. Sometimes the face that you see is real, and other times it is not our face at all, but rather a mask.

We wear masks because we fear that some people don’t want to know how we are really doing. We fear that they don’t want to know that we think about our child each and every day. We fear that they don’t want to know that on trigger days, we would rather be anywhere than talking with them. We fear that they don’t want to know that the baby section in Wal-Mart may bring tears. We fear that they don’t want to know that we relive that last day over and over again on a regular basis. We fear that they don’t want to know that we look at their child and want nothing more than to hold our little one in our arms. We fear that they really don’t want to talk about the death of a child and how it has completely changed every aspect of our lives. We assume that they would rather see us smile and hear that we are doing well.

The death of a child makes people incredibly uncomfortable. This is why many grieving parents wear a mask.

In February, I found myself beginning to wear a mask full time. I didn’t want someone to see straight through my mask to the fear that was dwelling within me.

On Valentine’s Day, Matt and I found out that we were expecting baby #2 in October. We were (and are) completely ecstatic. It was the news for which we had been hoping and praying.

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However, as the days moved forward, the fear began to further take hold. What if something goes wrong again? Can I handle another loss? If it happened once, certainly it could happen a second time.

So for the last two months, I have worn a mask. I feared that if I took that mask off, the floodgates would open.

You see, losing a child changes every aspect of your life, particularly when you get pregnant again. So during those early weeks, you are not only hiding nausea and exhaustion from the world, but also the fear that something may go wrong again. You are no longer naïve to the possibilities and risks during pregnancy. You know what no one likes to talk about, and you lived the tragedy that people claim will never happen to them. Until it does…

It is a scary place to be.

But now that my pregnancy is public, and now that I have had a chance to process the strong emotions that come with pregnancy after loss, I am ready to take off the mask and admit that I am absolutely terrified. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the possibility of things ending horribly again.

Months ago, as we shared our intention to try again, countless people told us, “That will definitely not happen to you again.” However, despite their intent, these are not actually comforting words to a baby loss parent.

I have been that 1%. I could just as easily be that 1% again. The “that would never happen to me” attitude is naïve.

However, as I take the mask off, I am choosing to dwell on something that my Uncle John shared with me when my family gathered for my grandmother’s funeral back in January. He shared that I shouldn’t worry about a future pregnancy, because “We all will pray this one into the world.” Wise words.

Apart from living a healthy lifestyle, that is probably the best thing I can do for baby #2. So as I look toward October, I will strive to acknowledge but not dwell on the scary possibilities, and I will continue to pray for this baby.

So blogging world, I ask you to join me in prayer for the next six months. Let’s pray this little one into the world.

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14 Weeks

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”  -Philippians 4:6

8 comments

  1. amotherwithoutachild says:

    Congratulations, that is such wonderful news. I can completely understand your anxiety and apprehension, after all, we never expect it to happen to us in the first place. I wear my mask often, although sometimes I can’t even put it on. I don’t want to lie to people about how i’m really feeling, but actually the real truth is so hard to explain. I will be praying for you and baby #2 xx

  2. Dawn Arquette says:

    Sarah – Congratulations on the wonderful gift of life you are carrying. You and your husband will be in my prayers continuously.

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Dawn Arquette

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