Truth: Knowing This Fact Doesn’t Make It Easier
In the ‘mom’ circles I’m in, we have all shared one of the deepest, most universal fears: losing our children. We fear losing our children to illness, danger, violence, accidents, and/or their choices.
As a foster parent, I know very intimately the fear of losing a child because it’s a fear that I literally licensed myself to experience. In the licensing process and the weeks and months following our initial days with our middle man, I assumed that my head knowledge of this process of loss would, in some ways, make it easier.
I’ve learned—and do believe—that when our emotions are out of control and in flux, we need to lean on what we know. So, before Nick and I were in this current space of foster care, I proudly told myself that foster care was weathering me for the possibility of losing any of my children. I wore this thought like armor on my shoulders. I naively believed that my intellectual acceptance of potentially losing my children was putting my heart a step ahead of the fear-based admissions many of my friends and I have uttered in close circles.
I’ve literally told myself that, “I’m a step ahead of the game. I understand that we could all lose our children at some point. Understanding this as a foster parent will make it easier. Setting the right expectations and being ‘eyes-wide-opened’ will help my grieving process in the long run.”
I am not a step ahead of any game. Knowing that I may experience the loss of a child in the coming weeks and months does not, in any way, make this grief easier.
Months ago I planned to write this piece on how to grieve proactively through foster care because, at some point, all of our kids will leave. I literally equated a child leaving the home at 18 (or whatever age) to the loss of child through death, foster care, or a failed adoption.
I am so gravely sorry for myself and my heart that I ever thought there was such a thing as being able to wrestle through future pain an effort to avoid it when it actually hits.
I literally considered grief to be the end-of-training date for a marathon. I figured that mentally practicing how I would respond could equate to better weathering the marathon of grief itself.
There is certainly value in mental exercises in advance of challenging seasons, but my outlook was based in pride, naivety, and foolishness. You can’t experience an emotion fully in advance and check it off your list. Life doesn't work that way.
Our children are not ours. If and when we lose them, the grief will come no matter how much we understand this.
God made them, God cares for them, and God loves them more than we could ever imagine. This is all we can rest in knowing.
Have you found yourself in a similar space? In what ways have you explored grief related to your children?