On The Loss of A Child: You Were You Are

infant lossThis past Friday, my sweet friend Dresden lost her baby.

She has been working so hard and so long with her fertility doctors to arrive at beautiful baby number two. We learned she was pregnant in October and were thrilled beyond measure. And now this.

Lost at ten weeks. I don’t understand the universe.

I know bad things happen without reason. Except, when it comes to a mother losing her child, I seek one, some explanation, because while I can accept much of the nastiness life throws at us, the one thing I can’t abide is the loss of a child. There’s not bit of me that can make sense of any of this.

I get war, crime, violence, instability, natural disasters and decay. The planet’s fragile balance between good and evil. My understanding ceases, though, when it comes to a parent’s loss. I can see why there’d be a reason or cause for almost everything else, but not this. Don’t take children. For all that is holy, don’t take children. As Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote in her poem Dirge Without Music, “I know, but I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”

There’s always a little tiny part of you that prays and says thank you that your children are okay at those moments when you become keenly aware that loss is even a possibility. Except, that’s not enough for me. I don’t want just my children to be okay. I want hers to be okay as well. I don’t want any mother to grieve. Ever.

I do not approve. I am not resigned.

I’ve spent three hours this morning flipping through pages and pages of poetry, looking for words from others that would help lift the anvil off of my heart. I found this by Mary Jo Bang, which hasn’t lifted much of anything, but is nonetheless beautiful.

You Were You Are Elegy 

Fragile like a child is fragile.
Destined not to be forever.
Destined to become other
To mother. Here I am
Sitting on a chair, thinking
About you. Thinking
About how it was
To talk to you.
How sometimes it was wonderful
And sometimes it was awful.
How drugs when drugs were
Undid the good almost entirely
But not entirely
Because good could always be seen
Glimmering like lame glimmers
In the window of a shop
Called Beautiful
Things Never Last Forever.
I loved you. I love you. You were.
And you are. Life is experience.
It’s all so simple. Experience is
The chair we sit on.
The sitting. The thinking
Of you where you are a blank
To be filled
In by missing. I loved you.
I love you like I love
All beautiful things.
True beauty is truly seldom.
You were. You are
In May. May now is looking onto
The June that is coming up.
This is how I measure
The year. Everything Was My Fault
Has been the theme of the song
I’ve been singing,
Even when you’ve told me to quiet.
I haven’t been quiet.
I’ve been crying. I think you
Have forgiven me. You keep
Putting your hand on my shoulder
When I’m crying.
Thank you for that. And
For the ineffable sense
Of continuance. You were. You are
The brightest thing in the shop window
And the most beautiful seldom I ever saw.


I’m so sorry, Dresden. I love you, friend.

Note: If you are someone or know someone who has lost a baby or a child and needs resources, please read Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness: Answers and Support for Parents

Photo credit: © Bernd S. –

Article Posted 3 years Ago
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