October 15 is National Baby Loss Awareness Day. If you have ever lost a love one, parent, child, you know how difficult it is to process and cope what has just happened. But the loss of an unborn child is something that creates a unique sense of grieving. For my wife and I, we encountered this with the loss of our baby that was due in August 2017.
A day that was supposed to be the celebration finding out our child’s gender went from exciting anticipation to one of the greatest devastating disappointments we have ever encountered. You literally feel like your insides, your heart, your capacity to experience joy was surgically removed to never be given back…ever again… This kind of pain makes you feel like being put under anesthesia and asking to never be woken up again. Like, I don’t want to die, I just don’t want to be awake to feel this grief.
Grief felt like a person more than an emotion. Someone you were forced to hold hands with without your consent; following you everywhere…even in your dreams.
The easiest thing to try to do is deny it and believe me I tried but Grief stared me right in the eyes leaving me no choice but to embrace and fully accept the moment for what it was…the biggest loss of my life (not to mention my God-Father had passed away the day before).
If I felt this way as the father, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend or fathom what my wife was going through. The greatest blessing in all of it was being able to say what mattered the most during our darkest hour…and that was simply that, “I love you..” but it shattered me that my love wasn’t enough to bring back our child or stop my wife’s pain.
It suddenly hit me that this wasn’t a situation to ‘fix’, but a journey to walk. This journey reminded me just how finite everything in this life is. I got to hold my stillborn child… ONE time. I got to look at him… ONE time. I got to say bye to him… ONE time… Then I realized how finite everything else was:
- The number of times you’ll get to say I love you to your family: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to hug your kids: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll smile at your kids: FINITE
- The number of times your kids will run to you for help: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to visit your parents: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll hear your parents’s voice over the phone: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to share a drink with your brothers: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to go on family vacations: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll eat meals as a family: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to tuck your kids in: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll chase your kids around the house: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll laugh yourself to tears with love ones: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll pull up in your parents driveway: FINITE
- The number of times your mother will say I love you before you hang up: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to share family holidays: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to pray with your family before you travel home: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to walk your kids to the bus stop: FINITE
- The number of times you’ll get to stop your kids from crying: FINITE
- The number of times you get to breath: FINITE
- The number of times your heart will beat: FINITE
- FINITE FINITE FINITE FINITE FINITE FINITE FINITE FINITE!!!
Everything in this life has a counter and that number only gets smaller everyday. You don’t know what the current counter number is on but I now treat it like it’s always on ‘ONE’.
And that’s the biggest takeaway even through the madness of grief and trying to find myself again and that is this: do and say what matters most before your counter runs out. Forgive who you need to forgive, visit who you need to visit, send those words of appreciation and gratitude, and most of all recognize when the moment is the moment before the moment is forever a memory never to be encountered ever again…
There’s so much more I could share but I’m so far beyond my unwritten top secret introverted rule right now. Maybe someday I’ll write a book, but I especially have allowed myself to be vulnerable with the hopes that I could help someone who has experience the loss of an infant or is in the process of going through a loss right now. Please know you are not alone and though you never forget, you will recover, heal, and continue this thing called life with new strength and purpose…be patient with your spouse and reach out for help sooner than later. And please give yourself permission to grieve. I still have to go for drives and cry in the middle of the day…and it’s ok and it’s going to be ok…and you will be ok too!
I made this video as a tribute to my son, Noah Daniel Fennell, who I wish I could be holding right now tickling his ribs and singing silly songs…but instead I’ll remember that we celebrated his life, though only in the womb, and I hold those memories captured in this video as I simultaneously let go of Grief’s hand to move on to the next chapter of life…whatever that may be.