Hopes and Tears
By Tara Hicks
No one wants or chooses to endure the deep pain of child loss. I always thought I wouldn’t be able to go on if something ever happened, never imagining I might actually lose my own child one day. Well, it did happen, and that day was July 4, 2012.
Jaedyn was full of love, life and excitement. She was like a little mommy to her younger brother and made sure to treat others with kindness. We had a special connection; when we talked I often felt like I was talking to an old friend. One day she asked me if I was proud of her and without hesitation I told her I loved her and was so proud of her. I will cherish those words forever.
What started as a normal day in our little town of Watson Lake ended in tragedy beyond our comprehension. Jaedyn was playing with her pals when a portable soccer net was bumped and collapsed, hitting the back of her head and causing a fatal brain injury. Our family of 4 became 3 in the blink of an eye. Instantly, I felt hollow, with nothing to live for. Paul and I felt so helpless. We were angry, hurt, sad, and numb.
In the months following her death everything was difficult: thinking, talking, even breathing. I had to retrain myself in many aspects of living. I learned how to answer questions in a new way, and that it was ok to let others help me.
Initially, I believe my distractions were what saved me. Two short months after Jaedyn died I finished my education degree. It was an emotional journey but I was motivated knowing that Jaedyn would have wanted me to continue. It was all a blur, but a needed distraction from the loss.
Now nearly 4 years later, I am just starting to really feel the pain of losing her. Each birthday reminds me that we have one less child to make a cake for, buy a present for, or read to at night. Instead of being able to hold her or do her hair, here I am clinging to a stuffed animal filled with her ashes. The emotional scars of loss are so deep, I often wonder what they would look like if they were visible on the outside.
How do I go on? I don’t want to forget my grief. I go on with Jaedyn in my heart. Working through this grief has been difficult and there have been times when I didn’t think our family unit would survive. The pain was too great and we grieved so differently from one another that even talking was a challenge.
I have sought the help of counsellors, and have met some wonderful people along my journey. Compassionate Friends, a non-profit organization for families who have lost a child, has supported me in my grief. Through them I have met others with stories like mine, and have found comfort in knowing that they have felt this pain but are managing to make it through the difficult times.
My son attends a grief group called Rainbows. He likes going because he can talk about his feelings and feels safe doing so.
I am grateful for the wonderful family and amazing group of friends I have in my life. They have walked beside us in our grief, offering support in one way or another.
I no longer focus on the nightmare, but instead on the dreams that come to me and bring comfort instead of upset. There is still deep sadness, but now there are also rays of sunshine when we can share a smile or a laugh and look back on wonderful memories. We have also added another member to our family, a little boy.
I miss everything about Jaedyn but am thankful for the unconditional love she gave to the people in her life in the short time she was here. I hope to honour her spirit by living my life to the fullest each day, full of love and positivity.
I hope my story will bring hope and understanding to grieving parents and families.
To fellow bereaved parents, we are not alone. We will make it through this deeply difficult journey, allowing ourselves all the time we need for healing.