What You Hang On To After Losing a Child

The New Normal
August 16, 2016
Guiding Children Through Grief and Loss
June 8, 2017

There is an unexplainable hollowness that comes with losing a child. I’ve heard loss-moms explain it as a hole in their heart or an empty feeling. I’ve searched for words to do it justice but haven’t found one yet. You grow a child and birth them and before you see how their hair touches their shoulders, or if their laugh turns into yours, they’re drifting away and you’re holding the tiniest thread of what you once had. (Written by Jessica Watson from Four Plus an Angel.)


To survive you tell yourself they’re holding this thread too, through pinched together fingers or a chubby fist or the growing hands you’ve imagined. Some days you might be the only one remembering, or at least it feels that way. On those days you need reassurance that the child who left was ever here at all and the thread you’re holding is proof.

When your child first passed away you thought sure you were going somewhere too, you were drifting further from here and closer to there but you fell hard right where you were needed; a place unfathomably far. The thread you share makes you different and less whole and often dangling mid-air, but at some point your feet feel the ground again. You reach for your thread and get up when pain pushes you down because loss taught you the art of holding tight.

You tie your thread to your wrist and learn not to feel awkward about taking it out and spilling it through the air. In fact sometimes you picture yourself wearing it on your head or rolling your whole body in it, you’re immersed in this new life anyway. Some days you wrap it around your finger so tightly it hurts but it’s the ache you need, the physical to balance the mental. As time goes on you become okay with tucking it away, you’ve reached for your child for so long you know it will always be there.

This thread you hold, the one dangling there just for you, has brought you to your knees and exhausted your strength but it’s soft and never-ending and so much yours you’ll never let it go. You trip over it and use it to reach new heights and let it help you create things more beautiful than you were able to appreciate in the past. It binds you to a before and after but you’re grateful because you need both; your life’s been split in two.

There are times you think your thread will break, and if you’re lucky someone is there to hold it with you or reinforce where it’s frayed. So often, though, no one is there. You don’t carry your grief on your face as you used to, and condolence cards don’t come at Year Five or Nine. You learn to tie your own knots in your thread when it weakens and let it spin you to dizziness and still you to calm.

You pull back to the beginning and hang on to the end and learn to take comfort. There will always, always be more. This thread has been unraveling since the day it was pulled from your heart and you’ve carried it clumsily and gracefully, managed it every way you know how. It’s anchored you down in ways you never could have imagined but it’s also taught you just how high you can fly.


Many thanks to Jessica Watson from Four Plus an Angel for allowing her words to be shared here. We hope that this article may help others who are facing similar grief, and our condolences are with her for the loss of her child.

You can also follow the journey of Jessica’s family here.


Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
Serving the Richmond area since 1870

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