I started hearing it almost immediately. Even before I got discharged from the hospital. Even before I had recovered enough to return to work. Even before I brought my son home in an urn. “You’re so strong.” In the earliest months, these words held very little meaning for me. Strong? Me? I could barely function. I did not feel strong. People said these words because I was facing a situation that they could never imagine facing themselves. I could never have imagined it either. Had I been given a choice, my son would have lived. So how could this be considered strength? It made me a little uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to respond. The simple “Thank you” didn’t seem quite right. Losing Lincoln has taken away any desire for polite, insincere conversations. I opted to add an “It sure doesn’t feel that way” at the end.
As I am openly writing about my baby, I might seem strong to the newly bereaved; but it has taken me this long to really feel that way.
“I’ll find strength in pain, and I will change my ways. I’ll know my name as it’s called again.”
-Mumford & Sons
I look back at my first 9 months, and I realize what people meant. I see how strong I really was. The world moved on without Lincoln; and it took strength to face it. It took strength to share his story. It took strength to embrace the tears that fell. I have heard from other loss moms that I am so much stronger; that I’m handling my loss with so much more grace. To those angels mamas, who do not feel so strong, know this: you are stronger than you think. I have felt the anger, the confusion, the loneliness, the bitterness, the numbness. These feelings do not make you weak. Our babies lives matter immensely. When you wake up in the morning, and put your feet on the ground, you are strong. When you talk about your baby, you are strong. When you cry or scream or curse at the sky, you are strong. There is so much strength and bravery in loving your baby when the world tells you to let go. People often use the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” This is not an entirely accurate statement. Losing my son did not make me strong. It broke me like I’ve never been broken. I am now picking up the pieces and finding a way to make something new. It is an ongoing process. I feel strong when I paint. I feel strong when I write. I feel strong when I laugh and when I love. I feel strong when I talk about Lincoln; and I feel my absolute strongest when I choose to help others through the life of my son.