in these empty arms…. living with the loss of a child Part 1and 2

She sipped on her coffee, the sad-flat look in her eyes that now replaced the sparkle she once had–gone. Looking at me, she calmly and quietly asked “but when does it get easier?”

*sigh*

Shall I tell her you learn to laugh through the knot in your throat? Shall I tell her you learn to live again with this new you? Shall I tell her she’ll never again walk past certain aisles in stores and be the same? No, it sounds cynical, too hard to bear all that at once. I mean I remember the first year. *sigh* There is some benefit in this, I mean a lot of benefit really, but it still hurts. It can bring us closer to Allah. The All Merciful.

I put my food down and swallowed what I had, and gave her-what I’m sure, was a weak smile. We were in a public restaurant and a couple of muslimahs crying was all I needed to fuel more rumors of how miserable and oppressed we all must be. I told her the truth. Not the initial, cynical-sounding truth; but the truth never the less. I will share it here with you.

“I’m not entirely sure if it becomes easier or we just grow accustomed to this pain and sorrow. I think we simply grow accustomed to the pain. I think Allah in His infinite Mercy, Love, and Power knows how much we can bear and grants us some relief on that sort of pain. To me learning Islamic knowledge, Allah’s mercy, and His love for us has helped me immensely. However, there are other times when the pain is so sharp it feels as if her death just occurred. My 7 year old daughter has officially been dead eight years, it’s a hard thing to know and live with.

I miss her terribly and other times I’m so grateful that she doesn’t have to be tested in this world and that she was granted “a free pass” to Jenna which makes me want to work and learn really hard at Islam so that I can meet her there once again inshaAllah.

When your child dies, you literally have to learn to live again. You have to learn how to be tolerant to people who most of the time meaning well say inconsiderate things around you or to their children and you have to bypass the urge to yell at them, tell them off, force them to tears by telling them of your loss or worse…like I said you have to learn to live again. Losing a child to death teaches you many, many things amongst them fear and liberation.

Fear because I am no longer afraid of the “what if” because it CAN happen. The absolute worse can and does happen, it happened. Liberation because it ripped the naive bandage from my eyes and showed me not to sweat “the small stuff.” After losing your child, it’s ALL small stuff. ALL OF IT.

As painful and hard as it sounds, no one is guaranteed any time in this world. No one is guaranteed to reach old age. Love yourself; forgive yourself for this. This is NOT because of you, forgive yourself, And not only on the surface.” I warned. At this point both of our eyes were brimming with tears….”keep going, tell me more” she said barely above a whisper.

“I want you know that it’s okay to walk away from what you’re doing when the pain starts to engulf you and feel as if it WILL undoubtedly swallow you whole.” I reached across the table cradling her hands in mine and when she looked at me in the eyes I proceeded. “There is NOTHING you can do to change what happened. Blaming yourself and saying “if only” will just cause you further hurt. You drowning in sorrow mamita, you drowning in sorrow will NOT bring her back.

. It will not change what happened. You being alive, you inflicting more pain on yourself through Mommy guilt won’t change a thing. Allah is oh so Merciful!! Don’t allow Shaytan to use this against you. He uses our sorrow, depression, pictures, certain clothing, things, television and other “reminders” to drag us down. Come back to the perfect Oneness of Allah and His book and what His Messenger promised us.

Allah is All Merciful and He has something FAR Better than this dunya prepared for us. Be nice to yourself. Remember it is OKAY to be sad sometimes. Remember your child will InshaAllah be in Jannah, asking, begging Allah to bring you and let you in. Strive to get there, InshaAllah. Learn Islam, use Islam, Use it to help you through those tough, hard to swallow for the knot in your throat moments. Let Islam be your Hope. The blessing is with our Lord and what an amazing blessing it will be In sha Allah!”

(part two)

Wiping our faces, looking around– we took a moment to breathe. She nudged me forward with the little of her face that wasn’t covered, signaling me to continue talking. “What can “help” you ease through this, what will make it “easier” is to remember all this I’m saying and to ask for help when you do forget, because the pain will come in huge tidal waves” I said as I held her hands and we cried publicly but not wailing, quietly our tears kept brimming and overflowing. We wiped our tears and kept talking, neither of us caring that we overstayed at the restaurant. The Waitresses left us alone. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this either, it’s happened with other sisters at a dhabiha/Arab food restaurant not that long before this with two other beloved sister/mommy friends of mine…..

Continuing I told her “Remember To ask for help on bad days from Allah first and foremost and seek refuge from the accursed Shaitan, depression and the was-was. Seek out a trusted confidant for support. On the days where it literally and physically feels as if an elephant or a truck were sitting on your chest and it hurts to breathe, swallow, and live; the days where it just HURTS with no description: walk away from what they are doing and immediately make a change.

If you’re online, walk away from the computer and go outside. Alhamdulilah she is in Jannah (paradise). La Hawla Wa la Quwata Ila BilAllah (there is no might or power except with Allah) Go somewhere! Go near people! If you are near people and they have suffered a similar loss and keep bringing it up, remove yourself from them. Get into writing, sewing, reading, scrapbooking, support groups, reading, gardening, cooking, Arabic, hadeeth, Islamic classes, homeschooling, exercise. Do something that can give you a positive outlet and a “get away” with something to do. remember though, be very careful in not allowing your “support” group to become something of a black hole to suck you in and weigh you down. Don’t allow what is supposed to remind you drag you down and hurt you worse.

Also, and this isn’t to belittle your loss and it won’t make it go away but always remember there is someone who has lost more than you, no matter how HUGE your loss is. This is not meant to belittle our pain or experience at all I promise.” I said hoping she wouldn’t take it wrong….

Continuing I said “I only say this however, to help us remain grateful. And we must ALWAYS be grateful for the blessings of our Islam. I’ve taken up writing. I created a support group on facebook to reach out to other moms which in turn helps me cope.

I know you don’t want much social media in your life, but I use that as an outlet for me and others. I’m trying to make sure I’m always busy, that’s another helpful tip I guess. I’ve learned some Islamic knowledge to help me love Islam more, love Allah and His Messengers more and to help me grow and find comfort in His promises, and the promises of Allah are true. I’ve learned to love Allah more than myself or anyone else. Not an easy task. As hard as that is to implement, it’s way too dangerous to love someone or something other than Allah more than ourselves because if and when they go, our very lives, deen, mental stability, and emotional selves will go as well. (By now we were both puffy and red in the face and soaked on the sides of our hijabs/khimars) “Some days will be “easier’ because Allah is Merciful and because you will get accustomed to the pain and some days will be slightly stronger in pain and harder to bear.

May Allah continue to grant us mercy, love, and patience Ameen!”

Sighing, and attempting to return to the spunky, fun-sarcastic woman she was 9 months ago she says “is that it, that’s all?” smirk on her face, nervous, exhausted laughter of a mom who can say this, who “proudly wears this badge I’ve earned” as another mommy friend of mine named Hoda Khalifah says.

May Allah protect our Islam, May Allah guide us to His Deen, May He help us through all of our trials and may He makes us of those He forgives in his infinite mercy Ameen.

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