Accepting My Child's Death;
What this means to me
By Judy Bruner

I am a mother who has lost a child. Because of my daughter's death I have found the need to reach out to other parents who are also dealing with the loss of a child. I got an email from another "Angel Mom" whose son died two years ago, she was telling me about a trip to her doctor and discussing the meaning of acceptance. She had visited her doctor and told him of her depression. Like so many who do not understand the depth of pain that a parent lives with after a loss such as this, he asked her if she had "accepted" her son's death. She was very upset by this and told me in no uncertain terms that she would never, ever accept his death.

Having just recently made it through the 5th anniversary of my daughter's death, and being in tremendous pain myself in the recent months, I took the time to think about what acceptance meant to me. As the 5th year date approached I found myself in almost as much heart wrenching pain as I was when she first died. I was taken back to those last days of her life. Replaying the scenes over and over in my mind. Dwelling on all the "what-if's" and the "why's". Feeling the ripping out of my heart as the emergency room doctors told me that my child was gone from this earth.



Now having gotten myself through those painful days I feel as though I am back at where I started five years ago and am once again trying to find my way along this painful journey called grief. I have come to the conclusion of several things and would like to share what I have discovered.

I told my friend this: Sometimes it just hits. It's that time of year for me. I think it's better to cry, scream, yell, whatever it takes, than it is to stuff the pain inside and let it eat at you. It has to come out sometime, better now than later. We both know that it's a part of this journey, and we all go through those times.

I used to feel that if I accepted Ashleigh's death.....which for me meant to stop trying to find all the things that I should have done differently and to stop blaming myself and being angry that she was gone. I thought that if I accepted the fact that she was gone; then it meant that it was alright with me. That I no longer cared that she was gone from this earth.



I thought that if I began living again; eating, sleeping, taking care of myself, allowing myself moments of joy, and enjoying the life of my surviving child, then it would prove to the world that I had moved on. That I had forgotten Ashleigh and what her life meant to me.

I now know that those things are not at all true. For me acceptance means that I accept the fact that my daughter is not here anymore because I have no choice. But I do not have to like it! I accept the fact that my life is never going to be the same again because I cannot change it or bring her back. Everything is different now. Nothing is the same as it once was. I have to find a new normal.



I accept the fact that she was a wonderful, loving child, and I was lucky to have had her in my life! I accept the fact that the sun shone brighter, the grass was greener, the sky was bluer, and the air smelled fresher when Ashleigh was here.

I also accept the fact that it's okay to be sad and to feel the pain. This is the absolute worst loss that any human being ever has to face, and I am doing the very best I can dealing with it now. I have learned to take all the time I need to feel the sadness when it overcomes me. Over time, I will be okay. I just have to get through the valley of tears first. I accept that it's okay to miss her and to cry for her. After all, who decides how many tears are enough? There will never be enough tears to show how much I loved this child.

I have decided after five years, that it's also okay to find a way to live with all my feelings put together. That is the key. I do accept it, but I don't have to like it or be happy about it. I just have to do the best I can with what I have left and carry her with me as I move forward.

2003 - Judy Bruner