At least once a week I get an email asking why I don’t write more about Maddie.
I go through patches where her name rolls off my tongue and I can flip through pictures with no difficulty. And I go through patches where I just…can’t. When even as much as I want to talk about her, the words escape me, and the only images that fill my mind are of the day she died.
It doesn’t help that all of the stories about Maddie are old. She’s not growing or changing or anything else. She’s gone and that’s…it. There’s nothing new to tell and there never will be. There are times when I can deal with this better than others.
The last few months have been particularly hard for me, grief-wise. There’s no real rhyme or reason as to why. Grief is full of peaks and valleys and I’m in a canyon right now. My flashbacks have been more frequent and my emotions have been closer to the surface. I seem to be running into kids her age more often than usual, and it’s been more apparent than ever how different she’d be…starting first grade next month, and turning seven in November. Seven just seems so old.
For me, time will never heal this wound, but it’s given me ample opportunity to learn how to deal and cope with the pain of her death. I know how to hide my heartbreak and function. The people around me never know if I’m having a bad grief day. I no longer tell people when I’m having a bad day because I’m tired of being judged for it.
Sometimes when I feel down on myself for struggling, I am reminded that it’s only been five years since I watched my daughter die. Sometimes I want to shake the people who tell me to get over it and focus on my living children. I can miss Maddie while still focusing on my living children. These are not mutually exclusive actions.
There are days when parenting Maddie’s memory is too hard and the unfairness that she’s gone is too much. I want to scream from the rooftops over everything she’s missing, but I don’t because many people think grief has an expiration date that I’ve long-exceeded. I get tired of the sideways looks and polite exasperation, so I keep it in.
I don’t write about her more because sometimes I just can’t take one more person telling me that how I feel is wrong.
Missing her will never be wrong.
Kimberly Krack says:
Ah, Heather, I’ve learned a lot from you and one of those things was our children, both next to us and gone, are always on our minds, in our thoughts. The minimum we can do is say “how are you? I was thinking of maddie when is saw… Heard….” Those rolling their eyes are insensitive clods. Don’t hold back because of a clod.
Please keep writing about her. Those people who tell you that are the ones who are wrong. Nothing more beautiful than your expressions of love, and your stories of Madeline.
my beautiful girl.
Heather, I feel the same way. I love that my blog can be a place where I can mother all three of my children now and while the posts about the two here with us are more time consuming (editing photos, including links, etc.) the ones about our daughter who died are emotionally draining and healing at the same time. I write about her quickly but then I need a nap or a vacation or a drink. Do you feel that too? I touched on it a bit here:
Sending love as you continue to inspire us all whether you write about her or keep her to yourself, as you struggle and look outwardly strong, no matter.
Yes definitely. I have always found writing about my grief to be extremely therapeutic, but I can almost never go back and read any of it…almost like once I write it, I’ve released a bit of the burden and to read it would be picking it back up again. Does that make sense?
It does. You are finding a place to set the grief so it doesn’t fester inside of you.
No one, absolutely no one gets to tell you how to feel Heather… I’ve been reading your blog before Maddie passed…. My heart still hurts to think about reading that post. I can’t imagine. As a complete stranger I wanted to hop on a plane and do whatever I could.. But, I can only offer words & hugs. and support. No one can tell you how to feel, what to think. 20 years from now, you'll still miss Maddie like it was yesterday and that's OKAY.
Many thoughts, hugs & prayers your way.
I can’t believe that there are people thinking like this. It’s horrible that you actually have to hide your feelings because other people think it’s time to get over this. What kind of society is this? Makes me so angry and sad
I could have had “Irish Twins”…and some days are filled with wondering.
I have commented before but not in a long time and I feel I need to comment and say something. I go to a support group (not a grief support group, but anyway) and sometimes we talk about the stages of grief. The lady that runs the group says that even though we (the members of the group) haven’t “lost” someone in death, we have “lost” somebody by having to leave a certain situation, so we (again the members) go through the stages of grief and my point is this: Everybody’s point of acceptance (the last stage) is different. There is NO and I repeat, NO expiration date on grief. Anybody who says there is either 1) has never experience grief, 2) is so disillusioned about reality that they want to live the “fairytale life” and ignore the “bad things”, or 3) has the stark inability to have empathy for people. Sorry this comment is so long, but I felt I had to comment after reading how people make you feel like grief has a limit because I am ONE (and I’m sure not the ONLY) to tell you that there is no expiration date! My grandfather died 14 years ago this coming October and there are still days that I still scream at the sky, asking “why?”. So go ahead and scream, cry, do whatever there is nothing wrong with YOU. Thanks, Heather, for all you do. It’s inspiring to us all.
that grief is one way that her memory lives on, that she’s still with you. I’m with you – I don’t think I’d wish it away even if that were possible.
I don’t understand why we are so judgmental especially when we have never walked in someone else’s shoes.
Amy, you took the words out of my mouth. Why do we think we have any right to tell someone else how he/she should feel? I just don’t get it. And Heather, I miss hearing about your beautiful precious daughter but I understand what you are saying and why you do or don’t talk about her. Shame on anyone that makes you feel guilty for missing your beautiful Maddie!
There is no expiration date on grief. I would suspect that the people telling you otherwise have never lost a child.
Or don’t have any children. People without children don’t understand the fierce love parents have for their children. Out living your child is something you never get over. Lose the people who think you should be “over it”.
HOW DARE ANYONE “who tell me to get over it and focus on my living children”.I cannot understand how anyone could be that cold,,,ignorant,and so out-spoken. It is absolutely no one’s business but yours, Heather. You keep doing exactly what you’re doing. Lots of hugs to all of you, honey,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
It is wrong for anyone to tell you how you should feel, it is wrong that you have to hide your grief so you won’t be judged, it is wrong for anyone to tell you how often you should write about Maddie (or anything else) on your blog – seriously I am always stunned that anyone would force their perceptions on a grieving parent but sadly I know from my own experience that it is, in fact, very common.
Well said and my thoughts exactly! It is stunning to me that people feel they have the right to say such things to you. I’m sorry you’re going through a rough patch right now. I can’t even imagine. Love and hugs!
This month marks two years since I lost my mom and four since I lost my dad. I miss them every day. I cope with it and deal with it quietly because I too am tired of people assuming I should have gotten over it by now. Missing them is part of who I am now. Just like missing Maddie is part of you. Missing her and missing them will never be wrong. There will always be a void where they once were. Keep missing her and loving her and know that there is at least one person in this world (even if I am all the way in South Africa) who will never ever judge you for it.
I’ve been dealing with the same feelings as you have written about, all day today. I have one particular ‘friend’, who every time I mention my feelings about my daughter’s death, which was only 6 months ago, tells me that I should go for counseling! It’s making me so angry. In her opinion, because I’m devastated that I’ve lost my girl, I need therapy? I realize that she says these things because SHE doesn’t want to hear about it anymore, and is trying to redirect my voicing my feelings, away from her. This is a ‘friend’ I’ve had for many years, and it’s very disappointing to feel I have to edit myself with her, but I have to, so that I don’t get the backlash. Pretty sad, isn’t it?
Sorry to read about your loss, Lillian. The fact that you put friend in quotation marks speaks volumes to me. Either tell her how you feel each time she tells you that or tell her nothing and drop her. Six months is nothing. Six years is nothing. Sixty years will still not be enough to “get over it.”
Kate, thank you for your kind words. You are right. I’m totally aware of that. I will have to tell her. If someone I’ve never met (you), can get it, then there’s no reason she shouldn’t get it. Thanks again.
You should tell her that. They same way you just said it here. I have 3 very close friends and if any of them acted that way towards me I would not hesitate to say exactly that. And honestly? I’ve been friends with them all so long that I wouldn’t even be afraid of a backlash. They are they 3 people on this planet I don’t ever have to guard my words with. We tell it like it is. If you’ve been friends that many years, it may be worth just telling her what’s what.
On top of that I am monumentally sorry for your loss and cannot for one second even imagine what you, Heather and so many like you go through. You do you. However you need to in order to make it. Just do you.
Amy, you too are completely correct, and I know I have to speak up, and I will, when the time is right (probably in the next few days). Thank you so much for your condolences. There’s no way to describe the feelings of losing one’s child, and I can only hope and pray that no one else has to experience such a loss. I appreciate your advice, and I intend to ‘do me’. thanks again! xx
Tammy M. says:
Maybe you could have your ‘friend’ read this post. Sometimes it’s a matter of not knowing what you don’t know, if that makes any sense.
Tammy, I think you’ve hit the head, and I will try to figure out how to get her to read this post. Best advice ever Tammy, thank you!
I meant hit the nail on the head …. duh!
I am so sorry for your loss. You should always be able to talk to your friends about your pain, that’s why they are your friends right? However I would suggest talking to your friend, tell her you just need her to listen, and that you don’t expect her to ‘fix it’. She may not know what to say or do, she could be telling you to seek counseling because she feels helpless. Obviously you would know better then I but if she is your close friend she may be grieving too and just doesn’t know what to do.
You have done an amazing job keeping Maddie’s memory alive. Even in people like me, who have never met her. Lots of hugs to you!
Ugh Lilian. I’m so sorry. Therapy CANNOT be forced. It has to be something a person is open to AND ready for, otherwise it’s pointless. I don’t get the insistence on telling you about it over and over…like you don’t know about therapy? Jeez. I’m sorry you have to deal with a “friend” like that.
I’ve heard that you shouldn’t even begin thinking of going to therapy for grief until at least 6 months after the loss. Before that, it’s all too raw to deal with in therapy. As a culture, we really do need to get over our avoidance of grief. My grandmother died in April about 3 weeks after we were told she only had a few days left. I was able to move through a lot of my grief with her while she was still here in those 3 weeks, but when she died, I had felt like a lot of people in my life were in a sense “over” my grief and I pulled away from a lot of people. I didn’t want to be a bother too, which is ridiculous.
Our culture is too removed from death too. My grandmother would tell stories about how when someone died in her neighborhood, they would hang crepe outside the house to let the neighborhood now and the bodies would even sometimes be displayed in the front room of the house. My grandmother would always stop in, even if she didn’t know the family or the person who died, just to express sympathy and love, because that’s what you do. We don’t do that now at all. We want to avoid death.
‘like you don’t know about therapy?’ Exactly Heather! It’s been a very disheartening experience to say the least. It really is true that in times of adversity you learn who your real friends are!
My grandmother lost her youngest as an infant almost 70 years ago. Growing up, the month he died – October – was always a little harder for my grandmother and mom. His baby pictures were always given a prominent place even though she was blind and had been since she was a toddler. She couldn’t see them but she knew the pictures were there.
What I’m saying is: you do you, Heather. You do you.
Denise Jones says:
Oh, Heather. Grief never ends, but it does get easier to bear. Those who think there is a time limit on grief obviously have never lost a loved one. Cherish those memories of Maddie (as we all do) and time will heal us but we will never forget.????
How could you not miss that face? Your emotions are never wrong and it just goes to show how in love you still are with that beautiful girl! Take care of yourself.
Kelly Daniel says:
And now, whenever somebody asks that (really nosy and totally inappropriate) question about why you don’t post more about Maddie, you can have an answer ready to go. Just keep the link to this post close at hand and answer, “Because, Canyons.”
You feel however you need to feel. The majority of your readers will back you up.
I have never for one second thought that just because you write about her less means you think or grieve over Maddie less. I have definitely thought about how it’s a subject that will always draw critics saying you’re posting about it too much, or not enough. Who would want to be criticized over how they’ve handled a living nightmare? Your posts about Maddie are a wonderful tribute and resource to those grieving, but you don’t owe anyone anything in my opinion.
^^^^^^^ is why blog comments need “like” buttons.
Word, @Amy, and @Leslie.
Tammy M. says:
“Who would want to be criticized over how they’ve handled a living nightmare?”
I am hurting so much for you to learn that this is the case! How can people be so thick and detached? I have never lost a child but have friends who have – and I think often, when I see or hear them making memories with their living family, about the ‘missing’ loved one. In fact, when reading your recent post on the 4th – I was thinking about Maddie, picturing her where she should have rightly been and I was mulling over how deeply you must have been feeling her absence. I am so sorry that you have found it to be as you describe and I wish you (and all who are grieving) could freely mention and live your love & grief without judgement.
Sending love to you. Grief is not wrong, it’s not something to get over or move past.
Abby J. says:
HUGS! I am sorry that people are being judgmental and making things harder for you. Losing Maddie will always hurt, and no one has the right to tell you how you feel and how to deal with it except you. You are in my thoughts today.
You can add me to the support column. Why would anyone assume that you’d stop missing and grieving your child? I do think that grief changes over time. Physically, I think it has to, or else your body would break down. However , I don’t think it ever stops.
Blessings to you and your family.
Why is it anybody’s business what you choose to write about and when? That’s just kind of insensitive. “Hey, you know that painful thing you have gone through that you are very open about how badly it still hurts you? Why don’t you share more about it?!”
I like the person who suggested “because canyons” as an answer.
(And of course the grief is still there. Death’s great at leaving scars on our hearts. Anyone who thinks otherwise has never lost anyone.)
I can’t imagine how you feel or deal with the death of a child. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to grieve and certainly don’t feel in the slightest way qualified to judge. If it helps, Maddie lives on in the memories of ‘strangers’ because of you sharing her in your pictures and writing. I am grateful that you also share these difficult times because you are either saying what others can not or educating those of us who have not walked in your shoes this way. Wishing you precious memories of your darling Maddie during those tough times.
Amy D. says:
Ugg, this makes me so sad and angry! What gives these people the right to tell you how to grieve, how to feel and that if you’re still grieving you’re not being the best parent to your other children, or on the other end if you’re not outwardly grieving that that’s not enough. Anyone can plainly see that Annie and James are incredibly loved and are happy well adjusted kids and it’s clear that loving them doesn’t mean you miss Maddie any less. I hate that people feel they can so easily get on their soap box and tell you how to feel, how to live, how to grieve. Just remember for every one of these JERKS there are 100s who think you’re doing incredibly well.
Its hard to read that people are so harsh and demanding of you. You do you, Heather Spohr!
It’s insensitive and cruel for people to judge you for grieving. You said it perfectly by pointing out that there is no expiration date on grief. I too am in the support column, and send positive thoughts and hugs to you.
Erin Christine says:
I am so sorry that people treat you this way. That is so wrong and makes me incredibly sad for you. So many hugs, Heather
I feel like I’d just be repeating what everyone else is saying at this point. This is just awful. I think ALL of us have lost someone at some point but I think about you all the time when I look at my children, wondering how in the hell you’ve been able to move on after losing her. To say you need to get over it is just unbelievable. Even if on your last days the last thing in your mind or the last words you say are of her, that’s okay. Even if someone has walked in your shoes, they don’t know YOU and your heart. Hopefully here can be a safe place where if you need to vent about Maddie, you can.
That’s terrible that people think they can tell you how to grieve. Do what you need to do for yourself and your family. Much love.
What kind of person would tell you to “get over it?” That is horrifying.
You don’t need to write or talk about Maddie for people to know you think about her all the time. She is always in your heart, and anyone who tries to tell you what to do with your grief and your words is not someone worth listening to. (I will keep my strong language to myself, here.)
Grief and loss will never have an expiration date and for those who do not understand, they are small-minded and careless whether they intentionally choose to be or not.
Your daughter will and always will be in our thoughts and in our hearts, whether or not we tell you or you tell us.
I just can’t believe the things that come out of people’s mouths sometimes. Why do people think they’re obliged to say everything they think to someone’s face, especially when it’s such an awful thing?? Junk punch.
Really, I would never think to ask someone why they don’t write more about the death of her child. Honestly, it’s none of anyone’s business and I still can’t believe the things people think they have a right to ask.
SHE is so beautiful…no one gets to tell you how to feel…peace
Thank you for this post Heather! Grief is different for everyone. I agree with you – there are peaks and valleys. It has been almost 9 years since Jake died and 4 1/2 since Sawyer died. I miss them everyday.
Living in a world without your child/children is extremely difficult. I don’t think anyone truly understands this unless they too have outlived their child. So, it is good that not everyone can relate. I just wish they would not tell you how you should feel.
There are those of us that can relate and will always understand that you will never “get over” Maddie. There is not expiration date on love.
Sending hugs and hope (now and always). xoxo
I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how anyone who has a child could possibly imagine that the grief and anguish of losing a child would ever end. I love your description of grief. And I love the “you do you” comments.
I am so sorry that you are being judged for your grief, Heather — and for continuing to love and honor Maddie in whatever way you choose. I love to read the stories about her, and we should all respect however and whenever you want to share them.
Debbie A-H says:
Sending digital hugs and much love your way.
Since losing my son, I’ve learned that some people say things that are hurtful because that is how they are coping with your loss. And that’s a bunch of crap. They simply can’t find anything helpful to say (because that really doesn’t exist), so instead this hurtful half-thoughts come out of their mouths.
Your grief belongs to you. And how you feel about it is all that matters. Thanks for talking about it. It helps lots of us more than you know.
“Get over it”?? How anyone can presume to know how you should feel…or even ask you questions like that…I just can’t understand.
That is such a beautiful picture of your girl!
I love when you write about Maddie. I love seeing her photos, I love the love you have for her. I’ve loved seeing your two younger babies in her familiar spotty highchair.
Lately I’ve been in such a terrible, awful place. Still am. My brother is gone? I purposely do not love many people because love = pain. But I accidentally had this beautiful family with these two boys of mine who keep me here, tethered to the world even though I don’t want to be.
I fell in complete love with my brother when he was born. I was eight years old. He was my shining blonde light in a shitty childhood. And he loved me! And now he is not in the world anymore and all of my belief systems, all the meaning and faith I had, is turned on its head. I don’t think I believe in anything anymore …. except love. The Beatles got it right, it’s all we need.
You have taught me so much about this word called “grief” and everything it stands for. It’s an interchangeable, moving beast. It sits on your chest for weeks and you can’t breathe, and then for no reason at all it lets you up for air. Briefly.
The past eight months have been exquisite for me, and I mean that in a bad way. It’s hideous, and man do I see how much society hides grief away. It doesn’t get spoken about or acknowledged much. People want to hide from it. I wish I could hide from it! It burns, every bloody day.
Something really significant happened in the car last week with both of my boys. Rocco talking about his Uncle Cam in a way that blew me away. I’ll blog it when I feel strong enough too, I’m worried it might attract a bit of criticism. But the criticism only comes from people who cannot comprehend this level of deep, dark, full-on heavy thing that grief entails, and a lot of people are lucky enough to not experience that. My friends grandfather is dying, which is sad. He’s 94, and she’s never been to a funeral before! I can’t even imagine what that would feel like.
Heather I’m sorry for the long comment, but I want you to know how proud I am of you. You kept going, one foot in front of the other, one day, then the next, then the next. My wish for you is the freedom to feel all of your feels and express them in whatever way you want to. I don’t see you writing about Maddie as “not getting over it.” I see it as honouring her, in a most beautiful way.
You rock and I just adore you dearly. XXXXXXX
I worry so much about you, Eden. You’ve had more than your fair share of tragedy, but ESPECIALLY lately. And I wish the same thing for you – I hope that you write about what happened in the car, because you ARE helping someone. You’re helping yourself, and you’re helping the people who will follow after you down this path, and you’re helping me. xoxoxoxo love you E.
Oh, Heather, sending you giant hugs. There us no expiration date on grief and it comes and goes in magnitude. I wish everyone would just let people feel what they feel, no judgment. Love and hugs to you.
What is it that people each week are asking you to write about? Perhaps you could write about those things.
Feel what you want to feel, write about what you want to write about, do what you want/need to do. Your life/feelings are nobody else’s business!! And if someone feels is wrong, so be it, it’s their problem, not yours!
Debbie B. says:
This post has made me so angry. My comment is addressed to anyone and everyone that has ever commented on the amount of time Heather has spent or will spend grieving her daughter. OMG! It nauseates me that Heather even had to write this post. How dare people make comments about such a personal part of someone else’s life. Whether you have lived in Heather’s shoes or not – where to do you come off telling her how she should feel? If you are a reader of Heather’s blog – then STOP reading it and for heavens sake STOP commenting. If you are friends or family of Heathers then – SHAME ON YOU!! I would like to make excuses for you people – you know – like you mean well etc. But NO! I can’t even make an excuse for such stupidity. There is No excuse for presuming you know what is best for someone else’s grieving process. I never had the pleasure of meeting Maddie, but I still think of that beautiful little girl with the golden curls and precious smile often. And I often think about what that last day was like for Heather and her family. How dare anyone even insinuate that Heather has spent enough time grieving. That is for Heather, and ONLY Heather to determine.
Heather, I am so sorry that you even felt the need to write today’s post. You climb in and out of that canyon as often as you need to to. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that what you are feeling or doing is wrong. I miss your little girl and will always hold a special place in my heart for her. Hugs and love to you.
People are nuts. These half wits that say these things to you, I just don’t understand. Love to you.
Wow, I will never understand how people could think stuff like that. People actually say things like that to you (or maybe it’s their actions that let you know)?! That’s terrible. I’m not doubting you at all, I just can’t grasp why someone would think that’s okay. I still have no eloquent words to express to you how I feel for you so I continue to say I’m sorry and only wish it weren’t so. That picture of her……such a precious soul.
Jennifer H. says:
I’ve been reading your blog since I saw your eulogy and tribute video for Maddie posted online somewhere. I’ve always loved reading your posts; you seem so “real” in the world of bloggers posting only for numbers. I’ve noticed Maddie’s absence on the blog as well, and I’ve been thinking about her and your family. I can’t imagine what it’s like to watch your beautiful family grow and change while also mourning the one person who can’t. You’re such a great mom, and the ways you miss/grieve/celebrate Maddie throughout your life only add to that greatness.
I can’t even begin to comprehend the extent of your grief after losing a child, however there are no judgments from this corner. I lost my father when I was in elementary school, over 20 years ago. He loved airplanes and we often built model planes, went to the observation area of the airport, pretended to fly, etc. Yesterday while running errands, I found myself outside a small airport and just parked my car for a while, to watch the planes take off and land and say “hi” to my dad.
Mary, that made me cry! What a sweet way to remember him. My dad loves airplanes, too!
Anyone who thinks you should “get over” the loss of a child is a complete waste of humanity. Put those people, as Beyoncé would say, “To the left, to the left . . .”
What you are witnessing is not so much a judgment of you but a showing of how craven and cowardly people are when it comes to facing someone’s raw and personal pain. It’s all about what they bring–or don’t bring-to the table. Refuse to hide who you are in the face of these people.
Marjorie Steele says:
Your last line is bang on. Missing her will never be wrong. Noone has the right to tell you how you are supposed to feel. I know it’s hard but please ignore those insensitive jerks.
I can’t imagine the pain you must go through! (((HUGS))) Missing Maddie could never be wrong.
I hope the following sentence doesn’t sound callous at all, but: it’s a risk you always run into on the web. People judge because they can. Simple as that. Sometimes friends judge the most. Sometimes it’s complete strangers.
I learned not to put too many feelings out online a long time ago, when I figured out an acquaintance I had used to manipulate them for I don’t know? A thrill? A feeling of importance? Jealousy? I’ll never know. I’ve not talked to this person for over a decade now.
Best thing you can do is not let it get to you. You do what you must. If focusing on your living children for a while is what you need to do, do that. If focusing on your grief, do that. Just know that judging is gonna happen either way, because when you put out an invitation into your life such as a blog, you never know who crosses the door.
You can share as much or as little as you want. Just protect your feelings about it, by realizing comments like that are not about you, but about them.
Jessica Stringer says:
I am so sorry, Heather! Anyone who tells you to get over it is a complete asshole and probably has never dealt with the death of their beautiful child. I’m so sorry people can be so mean. I always like reading stories about your beautiful girl. I would say I understand that it could be difficult to talk about at times but I really don’t understand that as I’ve never dealt with the loss. I can’t even imagine the pain and loss you feel. I’m so sorry. Don’t let the mean jerks bring you down.
Elizabeth McKinney says:
James looks so much like Maddie, I find myself reminded of her whenever I see a picture of him. Annabel is gorgeous, but she looks so different that it’s easier to focus on her adventures without that thought. I know that will change as James matures into less of a baby and more into a little boy, and I’ll miss it. Hugs, Heather. How you feel is exactly right for you.
Thank you for putting voice to your feelings about this. I struggle as well with memorializing my son, voicing my opinions or reactions when triggered, and feeling “permitted” to talk about him. There’s so much taboo around continuing bonds with your deceased child and how you broach it with others. The innate sense of “wrong-ness” of doing so is palpable for me, too. I first became aware of your blog after reading about Maddie, and I’m so grateful to follow along as your family grows up, down, and across with all three children. Sending hugs, support, and udnersanding.
Heather I love reading your blog, and as it’s your blog, you get to choose what you write about. I love reading about Maddie and I love reading about Annabel and James. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel!
Heather, sending hugs to you. Only your heart knows the grief you feel for your Maddie. Don’t let others diminish your feelings. xoxo
Just chiming in to say I agree with everyone. I can’t imagine that you would ever get over loosing a child and the people who believe that are delusional!!
I’m sooo tired of people and their opinions/judgments. In my eyes even if you’ve lost a love one it doesn’t compare to the loss of your child. I hide when I’m having a bad days like these too because I don’t want the comments while I just feel like pooh. But the reality is if you haven’t walked this path then really go LUMP IT.
Heather, Please don’t ever feel like your grief must have an expiration date. I cannot imagine the pain you must be in every single day. No one is going through exactly what you are going through so they have no right to tell you how to feel or make you feel bad for grieving the way you are. Those people are missing a sensitivity chip and you shouldn’t put any stock into what they say to you.
Jess Z. says:
I completely agree with you. It’s hard when people try to put a time limit on your grief, so that’s when you want to mask it the most. I lost my mom 11 years ago, and it’s still hard. I know I won’t ever get over it, but I no longer tell people when I’m having a rough day and just missing her. I don’t need to hear their negative tone.
Lori R says:
I never understand why some people think they get to judge others for how they experience grief. I don’t get being judgmental, period. There are no rules to grief and no schedule or expiration date. And there is no “getting over it” as some people say. How one feels can never be wrong. Hugs to you Heather. Remember all your supporters comments and ignore the insensitive creeps.
Missing her WILL NEVER be wrong. How could it? Hundreds (if not thousands) of us strangers “miss” her. She should be here and I’m so sorry she isn’t. A person who I often refer to as my “soul’s twin” committed suicide 6 years ago when we were 18. I’ll always grieve his absence in my life. I’ve also gotten many comments about “getting over it.” Our grief is not the same, but how could anyone think that devastating circumstances in our lives have deadlines or limits? It is infinite.
I tried to explain to a friend why I still fall apart even though my son died 12 years ago. We didn’t get to watch him grow. We had hopes and dreams for his life even before he was born. Every passing year is not full of fond memories it is full of questions. What would he look like, sound like,what would his interests be? etc… and it is gut wrenching. It should be birthday parties and celebrating. Like yours, my children ask and wonder about him and I answer lots of questions. Some days are easier than others. People have no idea what you are going through and they will never get it. He was everything I hoped for and dreamed about and it has turned into a nightmare that I face daily, put on a happy face, and cherish every second of every day with the three children I can touch, and hug daily. Others need to keep their judgmental comments to themselves. They are forever our children and are forever in our hearts and minds. Missing her will never be wrong!!
This comment perfectly explains how I feel, too. Hugs to you, Julie. xoxo
I am so sorry that anyone tells you to just get over it. That is just awful.
Maybe I’m more sensitive because I only ever knew my grandmother after she had lost a daughter, maybe it’s because I held my father as he died, maybe it’s because I’m just not an idiot. But…..I’m freaking amazed that people would have the nerve to ask why you don’t talk about Maddie more/get annoyed when you ARE talking about your grief, etc. I hope you take comfort in knowing that the vast majority of people can sympathize even if they don’t understand fully. Personally, I think you do a beautiful job of a balancing act that I can’t even imagine.
Shawna Liles says:
I love hearing about Maddie! I would never, ever, judge you for your grief. Who am I to say that you should “just get over it”. You do it your way, we’re here listening; I’m here listening. Those that are judging you for your grief are a special kind of awful! Obviously, they’ve never had to go through it. They should be a bit more understanding and empathetic. I don’t believe one has to go through what you’ve gone through to understand that it’s hard. They should just be there for you for whatever kind of day you’re having. AND, I love to see Maddie’s beautiful face. All of your children are beautiful!
As today marks the 14th year that my very close friend Mary passed, I find my self weary of letting people know. It still hurts. Very different from Maddie but all loss is awful. Hugs and hope that people can be a bit more understanding.
Ashley S says:
HUGS Heather! No matter what feeling we have, what reason nobody can tell us what to feel or not feel. We are entitled to our feelings – even when we don’t want to feel them. I’m sorry others have made you feel like you can’t share that, in life or here in the space that is uniquely yours.
I’m so sorry. I can’t believe you actually experience people who are exasperated or frustrated by your continued grief. Your child died. You will grieve forever. You will grieve until the day you die. THAT is normal. It would not be normal to ever “get over it.” Of course, as you write, time has softened the unrelenting hammer of grief in that you are getting better at managing it, but it will never go away, nor should it. It is perfectly normal to have the canyons. My best friend died 13 years ago and I still grieve for her; I still have days I cry. Her younger sister once asked me, three years after her death, “Am I older than her now?” These things renew the pain, these reminders that we are alive and she is not. And a best friend cannot even begin to compare to the loss of a child. So I don’t get it, but I get it.
I didn’t even carry my second son to term (lost him a little before 1/2 way) and I still miss what could have been and wonder what he would be like. I was unable to get pregnant again so I grieve that as well. Like you said, grief comes in waves and it is your grief. Grieve how you need to, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your other children, you just want her back.
I never knew Maddie personally (Hell, I don’t really “KNOW” you and your family, despite feeling as though I do).
But I mourn for Maddie.
I have cried for her, for you, and for the loss to the world. Through your writing, you have shared her – how amazing she was, how she changed your life with her arrival and growth, and even more with her departure.
If I, a stranger living my life in NYC, regularly feel her absence, I can only (probably not really) imagine how it must be for you.
Of course you still grieve. She’s your baby, she’s part of your soul, and you can’t see her, hold her, etc. Please, write about Maddy when it will do your heart good. And hold her close and private when that’s what you need. Screw anyone who doesn’t/can’t understand that, either way.
I was cringing when I read “what would you like us to write more about/less” (or something along those lines) in the reader survey because I knew someone(s) would say something about Maddie. People are idiots. Nobody can understand what you or anyone else is going through in the grief process. And telling you to focus on your living children?! Every time you say that, I want to throw things. You are the most invested mom I have ever heard of. Your kids are so lucky to have you and Mike. I always feel so terrible when you’re in the canyon because there’s nothing anyone can do or say to make you feel better. I’m so sorry that she’s gone. I never met her, but reading about her life was a joy.
I’m sorry, Heather. My heart hurts for you. Such an adorable picture of Maddie. She looks so happy.
I cannot imagine every losing a child and there is NO expiration date on grief. I imagine that day is burned in your brain forever and anyone who doesn’t understand how even just a tiny part of your heart can still be broken has never experienced what you have. Whether you post about it or not, you’re in my thoughts often. You are a very strong and inspirational woman. Sending you giant cyber hugs!!!!
I am so sorry that anyone would be selfish enough to add to your pain when they know how much you have lost. Of course you will never be “over it.”
Thank you for sharing your precious Maddie with all of us. And when you can’t, then keep her all to yourself. We will be here reading and supporting and remembering her no matter what.
Paula R. says:
Heather – there should never be a day someone should be tired of your grief. Parents aren’t supposed to lose their children. Grieving is a natural state for those that lose loved ones prematurely; losing a child makes that state compounded and more pronounced. Fuck those that don’t get it; they’re not worth your time!
I’m so sorry. Missing her won’t ever been wrong; no one’s feelings can ever be “wrong.” Your comments about grief remind me so much of Tripp’s mommy’s blogposts. You and she explain, in ways I’ve never read nor heard before, the utter gut-wrenching sickness of losing a child. It definitely helps me to understand a little more and hopefully be more compassionate. Have you ever read about sweet little Tripp? http://randycourtneytripproth.blogspot.com/?m=1
Yes, I have. My heart goes out to her.
I would tell those people to get f@%#^÷’&. Your grief journey is yours alone. Not Mike’s, your Mom’s, or your Dad’s. It is not one I understand but I can listen and have compassion. The canyon has its beauty, too … not just the mountains. Thank you for sharing Maddie with us. Lots of hugs from Minnesota.
People actually tell you to get over it? Are you kidding me? That is unbelievably ignorant.
Losing a child is not something to get over, it’s something you have to survive. NO ONE has the right to tell you how to do it.
No true friend would ever be tired of hearing you talk about how you’re feeling. And no one who loves you will ever tell you that it’s time to be done grieving. It’s time when you decide it’s time.
Linda K. says:
Heather, we have some friends of the family who are in their 70s whose son died 20+ years ago. They still visit his grave every year, and there are moments they still tear up when they talk about him. You are not alone. There are people who get it, who understand, who know that there never will be any time limit. I’m terribly sorry you’ve been made to feel wrong by people who just simply don’t get it. *Hugs*
Ugh, how could people expect you to be “over it”? I have never experienced anything remotely similar but to me 5 years sounds like a tiny amount of time to cope with such grief.
I filled out your reader survey and nearly wrote that I’d like to hear more about Maddie, then I figured you should share what you want to when you want to rather than because random people on the internet want to hear about her, so I didn’t. But I always like reading your posts about her
I wrote on the survey that I’d love to hear stories about Maddie, and now I feel terrible and wish I hadn’t. I constantly struggle to let Heather know I think of Maddie every time I’m here (and whenever I see purple, and sometimes when I see a young child enjoying music, and sometimes when I see a particularly bright and bubbly child), yet I never ever want to cause her to be sad. I’m so so sorry if I hurt you, Heather, by mentioning stories of Maddie on the survey.
Please don’t feel bad! I like that people want to hear stories about her. I only wish I had more to tell.
Such a little beauty. Those eyes are really spectacular. I never realized before how her eyes, James eyes are your eyes.
Heather, I will tell you over and over, the pain will always be there, it just won’t always hurt so damn bad. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. You seem to have found a beautiful balance of living and enjoying you life and grieving. Maddie is proud for sure.
I know it’s hard, but I just want to say thank you for sharing all of your children with us. I started reading while Maddie was alive. She was so gloriously happy, with that charming smile and those strikingly beautiful eyes. She would be a fantastic big sister!
And her story is one very close to my heart. When my son was born and went to the NICU, I was so worried about being away from him and losing bonding time. So paranoid about how that might affect him. And then I would remember Maddie. The videos of her, so happy and so normal and so perfect. I knew that if she could go through everything that she did, and still be okay, so could he. And he did. He just turned 3 and he loves looking at your pictures. He always asks if he can go play with your kids.
I know that Maddie’s story has to have affected others in the same way. And so does yours. To suffer the ultimate loss, and not hide your devastation, to share your grief even years later… you are helping others in the same situation know that they are not alone. That they’re not crazy for not grieving on an arbitrary time frame. That you can move on and be happy again, but still acknowledge that you never feel whole again.
Thank you Amanda, this means so much to me. xo
Oh god, I know that feeling. I’m not a parent, but I lost a friend I grew up with to lung cancer at 20. A lot of the time, memories of him make me happy. We had great years, and I love the kid (present tense, not past).
But some days, his name, or someone’s voice that sounds like him from behind me, or the smell of his cologne in a mall, or other small things will feel like a suckerpunch and just put me on my knees.
I miss my friend. I will always miss my friend. And I’m never going to apologize for it. Don’t let someone make you feel like you have to either.
I cannot imagine the pain one feels upon the loss of their child. I would NEVER be done grieving and people who think you should be done are very insensitive and not worthy of a second thought.
I’m so sorry people make you feel that way. It’s unfair. There’s no expiration date on grief and even if there were, who do they think they are deciding when that date should be?
I want to apologize for the hurt people have caused you and your family. It makes me angry that you would ever have to pause and consider people’s response or reaction before talking or writing about Maddie. You should be able to freely express whatever you’re thinking and feeling and not have to worry about whether you’ll receive support or not. I hope you know those people are unimportant. There are so many more of us that are behind you, always, then there are of them. I hope you really believe that.
Abby Leviss says:
I am tired of the judgment too. And I also feel like I just don’t want to share anymore with people who don’t get it or want to pretend like it’s all better now. Five years is nothing. And seven years would be so old, you’re right. It’s difficult for me to imagine having a three and a half year old now. I’m in a canyon too….but nobody would ever know.
Tammy M. says:
What I can’t get over is anyone thinking you “should” be over your grief!
I’ve never met you or your kids but my heart feels a tug when I see pictures of and read about Maddie. Please know that a large majority of your readers do not judge you for “still”(gimme a break!)grieving.
I still enjoy hearing about Maddie and how she is still a part of your family’s daily life, even if it is not in the way we wish. I love seeing the pictures you post. Your posts would not be “you” without you sharing your grief. You write beautifully and in a way that will help some people “get it”. I think there is a lot of value in that.
While I am a daily reader, I don’t usually comment on posts. However, Heather I can’t stop thinking about this one. I’ve never met you or your family, but stumbling across your blog a few years ago I was drawn in by your writing and the stories of your vibrant, strong daughters (and now son). It breaks my heart to hear people would tell you to get over it. I have occasionally thought while reading the latest post ‘why doesn’t she write more about Maddie?’ …because I miss her too. Obviously not in anyway that could be compared to what you feel. Just that I feel a small connection to such an amazing girl. I hope you realize how many of us come from a place of caring. My life has been impacted by your daughter and because of that she will be in my heart forever. I just wanted you to know that.
I cannot fathom that people would actually tell you or even think that you should just get over with it. That’s just awful! She is your daughter, you baby girl and your flesh and blood. She will always always be a part of you and people should respect your grieving process and Maddie’s memory. The thought of losing a child takes my breathe away and I can’t begin to imagine what you have gone through and will continue to go through. I’ve never met your family and live on the opposite side of the country but I love your blog and keeping up with you kiddos, including pictures of your beautiful Maddie.
I first read your blog just before Maddie passed away. I must have read almost all of your stories about her. Once I started reading through your archives I couldn’t stop myself. My husband and I had a second miscarriage and were starting to see a fertility doctor to figure out what the issue might be. I read and fell in love with your Madeline. I dreamed about having a daughter some day. Then Maddie passed away. My heart broke for you and I mourned for her even though I’d never really knew her. I honestly prayed every day for you and Mike. I still pray for you both. I bring Maddie up in conversations… when someone mentions beautiful lashes or premature birth is being discussed… I continue to think about her and be sad that she is gone. And I’ve never met her. I never held her, or smelled her head, or felt the weight of her as she slept on my chest. I think you and Mike have grieved for Maddie perfectly. Everything you’ve done has gotten you this far. I wish you were never made to feel that your loss should ever be “gotten over.” Because that would be impossible. I now have two daughters. My oldest is 4 and my youngest is 2. I still think about your Maddie and understand a little better now how much you must miss her. I am still praying for you.
I for one, and I suspect many or most of your blog readers will never judge you for writing about the darkness of your grief. As others have said, I have found your bravery in sharing it here an inspiration to me to allow me to feel my own feelings of grief and to be more empathetic toward others. Losing Maddie was traumatic, and one thing I’ve learned about trauma is that telling what we’re having flashbacks of helps these horrors intrude less–supposedly helps us be able to decide when to remember and when to focus on the present-as well as helps restore our sense of meaning and trust in the cruel, previously unimaginable world that took Maddie away. But this telling has to be in a safe, supportive place. I for one would always be honored to read about your grief and about the really shitty parts too. Maybe if you wanted to release those in writing, you could have a friend moderate the comments for you. There is no reason you should have to see anything judgmental when your heart is on the line. And it really does give me courage whenever I’m part of discussions where someone has the courage to tell it like it is. Especially about grief, in our trauma-denying culture.
I lost a child in August 2005. I had another child in August 2006. I’ve heard “replacement” comments. I’ve heard that it should “help” me get over the loss. I’ve heard it was unfair to my daughter that she was born just a year after I lost her sibling because she will always be in her shadow. I’ve heard it all. I’ve lashed out at some, I’ve smiled and held my tongue. I’ve sat in shock speechless. Next month, she would be 9. I’ve had 9 years to practice. I can now smile even while a war rages in my heart. I’ve learned to put on the face. Most days I can hold myself together pretty darn good. Other days something will sucker punch me but I can still make it behind closed doors to suffer silently. Nothing is worse than the rogue tear that comes and you get the “looks”. Shock, horror, pity because my daughter died almost 10 years ago and I’m still not over it. I’ll never be over it. I’ll just keep getting better at making YOU feel ok about it.
You have every right to talk about, miss and remember your maddie. If people don’t get that, maybe they are not worth having in your life. YOU mourn on YOUR time table not someone else’s. You will never stop missing her or remembering her.
I am sure it must be so hard. Talk about her when you want we love hearing about her, and when you want to remain quiet, that is fine also.
My brother has been gone almost 3 months. I had 34 beautiful years with him and yet, your words about the peaks and valleys, the expiration date, all of it, rings true. I feel guilty bringing him up only because it can be a conversation killer. I don’t want it to. I am trying to raise my almost 2-year, grieve the heartbreaking loss of my best friend as well as never, ever forgetting about how remarkable he was. I don’t wish this loss on anyone. I also don’t wish to be made to feel bad about talking about my brother (again) through tears as well as laughter cause he was so funny. Grief is hard and it’s only made harder by people who want you to rush through it but, they want that only to make themselves feel better and not you. And I get that but sheesh, please, let me grieve. I miss him and I love him and I’m sad and I will always be sad.
I started reading your blog the day Maddie passed. I now have a daughter of my own, the same age as James. Each time you write about Maddie I consider it a privilege to be allowed into your thoughts and memories. Please know that so many of us understand that grief has no expiration date, or pre-determined time scale. Sending love all the way across the oceans.
Missing someone you love will never be wrong. I’ve never experienced the loss of a child, but I have lost both of my parent’s My father died 14 months ago and the pain is still so raw. I will always grieve for him, and I won’t apologize for it. I’ve learned that my grief comes in waves. Sometimes the water is calm, then out of the blue a wave comes crashing in. Those people who put a “time limit” on grief have obviously never lost someone who meant the world to them. I continue to pray for you, and for Mike, because what you lost can never be replaced, or forgotten. Many hugs and much love <3.
I just read through many of your posts after coming across your newest post on FB. I can completely relate to so much that you write about. My (then) 16yo son was killed in a car accident 2 1/2 yrs ago. My heart still aches and I’m learning how to live with that because I’m pretty certain that’s never going away. I started blogging after Blake died as my therapy. I know people read the posts and hope they help, reach, someone- but ultimately it’s a way to get my thought out of my head. Thank you for your honesty. And keep writing.:)
Oh Hilary, I’m so sorry to hear about Blake. I understand how writing helps get the feelings out, that’s exactly how it is for me, especially in the early days. Lots of love to you. xoxo
Alexandra :) says:
I miss Madie too.
I love to read about Maddie. I think about her often.
I started following you a few days after Maddie died and I know this post is really old but I’m so sorry that people have made you feel like you can’t or shouldn’t miss her or talk about her. You and all the other grieving parents out there deserve better.
Oh, thank you, Alexandra, this really means a lot to me! xo