By: Amy Lied
This month marks three years since our son died.
Three years since I said “hello” and “goodbye” to my child on the same day.
Three years since I’ve seen his face.
Three years since I’ve held his hand.
Three years since my heart shattered into a million pieces.
Three years since a giant chasm cut my life into two parts; “before” and “after.”
Immediately after Asher’s death and subsequent birth, I was a shell of a person. I would sit on the sofa all day waiting for it to be an appropriate time to pack it in and go to bed. I would wake the next day and repeat the process. I felt guilty every time I smiled or laughed at something. My child just died, how could anything make me happy?! I refused to allow myself go back to the things I did before loss. Returning home and binging Revenge on Netflix, like I was doing before he died, felt wrong. In my mind, it would’ve felt like none of it happened, like Asher was never really here in the first place. I needed life to be different as proof of his short existence.
I couldn’t go back to that “before” life because I wasn’t that person anymore.
As time passed, pieces of my former self started to come back. Others are forever lost; the biggest one being my naivety. New pieces have been added to replace the ones that are missing. I’ve become a much more empathetic and emotional person since losing Asher. In time, I was able to return to the things I did before he died. I finished Revenge, which actually made me feel more connected to Asher since it was something I did with him while he was here with us. It was “our” thing. I would curl up on the sofa and watch a few episodes each night after work while he danced around in my belly. Eventually, I learned that it’s okay to smile and laugh. It’s okay to feel joy again. Joy doesn’t negate the sadness I feel over the absence of my child.
In three years, I’ve become a different version of myself. I’m the “after” me.
I have gone from a grief stricken zombie with empty arms in an eerily quiet home to a bereaved mother with overflowing arms in a noisy house. We went back to fertility treatments, conceived twins via those treatments, white-knuckled it through a high-risk, high-anxiety pregnancy after loss, and welcomed twin daughters a year and a half after losing our firstborn child.
So much has changed in the last three years, myself included, but two things have remained the same; my love for Asher and the longing for his presence.
The overwhelming sense of loss I felt after saying my forever goodbye to my son three years ago is still there. It will always be because he will always be missing. However, I’ve learned that there is room for both joy and sadness; grief and gratitude; hope and anger, two conflicting emotions can exist simultaneously. Asher is not sadness. Asher is happiness (which is what his name actually means). His death is sadness. I can be sad for his absence, but happy for his brief existence.
The “after” me feels sadness at even my happiest moments because I am forced to live in the “after.” I am forced to live without my child. However, that sadness doesn’t mean I don’t feel happiness over the beautiful things in my life. It doesn’t mean that I am not grateful to have two living children. It means I am just missing the one who isn’t here.
Three years of living in the “after” and I’ve learned it’s more than just sadness. It’s joy too.
About Amy Lied
Amy Lied is a wife and a mother. Her son, Asher, was inexplicably born still on February 19th, 2017. Before losing Asher, she suffered a miscarriage and struggled with unexplained infertility. After losing Asher and struggling to conceive again, she went back to treatment where she became pregnant with her twin daughters; Harper and Scarlett. She has documented her journey from the beginning of her infertility struggles on her blog, Doggie Bags Not Diaper Bags. She is also a co-founder of The Lucky Anchor Project, an online resource for loss families that houses an Etsy store whose profits are donated to loss family non-profit organizations. Sharing her journey has helped her cope and she hopes it also helps others who are walking on this road of life after loss.