I’ve shared the story of the funeral home. I’ve shared how I felt in that dark, sad building on December 28th, 2015. What I haven’t shared is that, on that day, I was offered the use of the chapel for a memorial service. For parents of lost babies, this was offered free of charge. But I just couldn’t do it. It was too much. I was living a nightmare, and I couldn’t imagine people surrounding me. It made it too real. For my own sanity at that time, I don’t regret that choice. However, for others, I think that service would have said to them, “Yes, please come grieve with us. It’s okay.” Back then, I didn’t realize that people would need that invitaton to grieve our son.
But I’ve noticed something over the last couple of months. Anybody who talks to me about Lincoln, seems not only nervous to do so, but they seem to be looking for permission. When I receive nice messages, they usually say something like, “I know this isn’t my place, but….” Even from the very beginning, people would apologize for crying over Lincoln. I didn’t understand why. Now I have people saying to me, “I don’t have the right to be sad. I can’t understand how you feel.” Everyone has been trying to hold themselves together for us. I also get people who are afraid to tell me how Lincoln has touched them. It is difficult to approach me. Everyone is afraid of making me sad. Of crossing lines. Of not fitting into Lincoln’s legacy. To these people, I’d like to, firstly, say thank you for the respect and the care for my heart. And I’d also like to say, please know that you are allowed to grieve with me. You have my permission. My son deserves to be remembered. He deserves the tears. By sharing them with me, you are showing me that he is loved and he is remembered. If Lincoln has touched your life, or has made you hold your babies a little bit tighter; you have my permission to tell me.
I haven’t done a lot of writing lately. There are so many reasons for that. It is overwhelming, and I find that I have too much to say to be able to narrow it down. Sharing so much can be intimidating. And the more time passes, the less response the writing receives. To me, less response can feel like less love for Lincoln. I got a message the other that reminded me of why I write:
“Janelle we don’t know each other well but you have a beautiful family. I have struggled to find the strength to message you. Every time I see a picture of your beautiful son Lincoln, I tear up because he is just so precious that I just want to hold him and snuggle him. I just recently had a baby girl and I couldn’t imagine having to go through what you have gone through and are still going through. Travis and I were friends in high school, not close but friends. I love your stories of Lincoln! The words you use to describe him make me feel like I know him and, as painful as your journey has been, I love to read your beautiful memories of him. I read how many people around you have distanced themselves from you because it is uncomfortable to talk about. It is, no one can deny that, but it is necessary to keep his story and memory alive. Your baby boy will live on forever because of you and through you. I just finished reading about you and Travis getting tattoos to memorialize Lincoln, and they are gorgeous. Your writing made me cry. I had to message you to let you know that we are all listening even if some of us don’t respond. I always read your entries, because when you write I feel like I am in the story not just reading it. Your journey as a mother has been tremendous and you are much stronger than I could ever be. You are a great mother and I can not wait to read the next story about Lincoln and learn more about his beautiful life. Thank you for all you have given me through your written words. You have made me a better mother for my children because I can see your unconditional love and it makes me grow stronger. Thank you….❤”
For the last month, I have been trying to write this post, giving you all permission to tell me how you feel about Lincoln, about me, about your own families. But I haven’t been able to articulate it. This message reminded me of why I needed to do so. And reminded me of why Lincoln’s story and my story need to be shared.
I share Lincoln because, as his mother, it is my job to make sure his mark is left on the world. I share Lincoln to remind others that life is fleeting and precious. I share Lincoln to take away the stigma surrounding infant loss, stillbirths, and pregnancy loss. I share Lincoln because I love him and he deserves to be shared. You have my permission to share my posts with other loss moms. You have my permission to share my posts with everyone else as well. You have my permission to tell me that Lincoln has touched you deeply. And if you need to cry for him (or if you need to cry for us, his parents), it is okay for you to do that. Your tears don’t make us more sad. They don’t remind us of our pain. Our sadness is perpetual; our son always missing from our lives. When you open up, you let us know that we are not alone. You let us know that my biggest fear will not come true, that Lincoln will not be forgotten.