Empty Arms Bereavement

I am not okay.

When I say, “I’m doing okay”, I wish you could understand that I don’t “feel” okay and that I struggle daily.

By Emily Collins

Multiple times daily I’m asked the question “How are you doing?” My answer to this

question (an odd question given my circumstances) is almost always, “I’m doing okay.”

People love this answer, especially when asked of someone they know is having a hard

time. As a society, we’re content with okay. It’s interesting how we so quickly accept “okay”

when, by definition, it is simply satisfactory, not good.

A year after my 15-day-old son, Sebastian, died in my arms, I look like I’m doing pretty darn

well from the outside. I started therapy and medication within a week of my baby’s death. I

am actively and consciously parenting my living child, Coco (now 8). I’ve started a business,

entered and exited homelessness, and enrolled fulltime in school. I show up to parent-

teacher conferences, dance performances, baby showers, and birthday parties. We adopted

a kitten and put our Christmas tree up the week of Halloween. I cry so little in front of my

daughter, that she often asks if I’m forgetting Sebastian, and if I’m even sad?

Honestly, I’m worlds away from okay. What I wish so deeply others could see is the agony I

live with daily. The reality that grief does not know time, nor does it care about deadlines

or schedules. I still sleep only with the help of prescription medications. I wake up every

morning with a bit of a start before remembering I don’t have a baby to care for. My body

aches nonstop; from the top of my head to the tips of my fingers and toes. I now suffer

from migraines, short term memory loss, severe depressive disorder, and PTSD.

Unfortunately, not being a productive member of society or an active parent simply aren’t

options. I was given permission from the outside world to fall into my grief for only a short

period of time. I feel a sense of obligation to everyone in my life to get myself together! To

snap out of my grief, put a smile on my face, and live like I did before Sebastian died. Yet, I

repeatedly fall short of this obligation.

I am NOT okay! My heart hurts. My entire being aches for my son. There virtually isn’t a

moment of any day that I don’t think of him. Where the very unnatural reality of living

without one of my children is not at the forefront of my mind. There is nothing right about

parenting a dead child. And I wish people would understand that I will never be okay. For

the rest of my life, Sebastian will be dead. And there is nothing okay about that.

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