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From Anticipation to Anguish: The Silent Grief of Losing a Child

In these moments, sabr is vital but the struggle to maintain it is immense
07:09 AM Jun 29, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
from anticipation to anguish  the silent grief of losing a child

Losing a child is one of the most devastating experiences any parent can face. For a mother who has carried her baby for months, felt every kick, every flutter and dreamed of the future with her little one, the loss is profound and shattering.


When the loss happens immediately after birth, the grief is compounded by the sudden and traumatic nature of the event. As a strong believer you understand that “To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return”. However, knowing this does not erase the deep pain and trauma you feel. In these moments, sabr is vital but the struggle to maintain it is immense.


In the silence that follows, the world becomes a different place. The anticipation of hearing her baby’s cries turns into an eerie, painful quiet. The empty crib stands as a stark reminder of dreams that have been stolen away. Every corner of the home once prepared with love and hope now echoes with absence. The mother finds herself in haze, moving through the days with a heart weighed down by an unbearable heaviness.


She may find herself sitting in her room, holding on to the tiny clothes and blankets, feeling the soft fabric and wondering how something so gentle and innocent could be associated with such profound loss. Each item becomes a relic of a life that was meant to be, a life filled with firsts that will never come; the first smile, the first steps, the first words.


The milestones which she had eagerly awaited, are now the source of immense heartache. Physically the mother’s body still bears the pain and discomfort of surgical cuts and all. Her body’s readiness to nurture turns out to be a painful reminder of the child she no longer has to feed. Her arms ache to hold her baby, and this longing can feel almost unbearable. This loss compounds the emotional torment, creating a continuous reminder of what was and what should have been.


She may find herself engulfed in the waves of grief, suddenly crying, overwhelmed by a simple sight or sound – a lullaby, a baby walking by, a baby calling out to their mommy’s. These everyday occurrences, which once brought joy now serve as painful reminders of her loss. The world seems to move on around her, while she feels stuck in a vortex of sorrow and longing. The nights are even more difficult. In the quiet darkness, her thoughts often spiral.


She lies awake, tears streaming down her face, her body trembling with sobs that seem to have no end. The emptiness of the night mirrors the emptiness in her heart. She replays the events leading upto loss, questioning if there was anything she could have done differently, despite knowing deep down that it was beyond her control.


She feels an overwhelming sense of guilt and failure, as if she should have been able to protect her baby. This self-blame is paralyzing, even though logically she knows that what happened was out of her control. The guilt is a cruel companion, exacerbating her grief and making it difficult to find peace.

Socially, she may feel isolated and misunderstood. One of the most significant issues grieving mothers face is the lack of empathy from those around them. People often resort to giving lectures about how she should be feeling or behaving.

These things feel dismissive and hurtful. Instead of offering comfort they make her feel more isolated and alienated. Friends and family often don’t know what to say, and their well-meaning but misguided attempts to offer comfort can sometimes add to her pain. Phrases like “you can have another baby”, or “you should think of ABC who has gone through the same pain”, “you should not feel this way”, “if you will act like this what will your husband do” blah blah blah, make her feel more miserable. She needs her loss acknowledged, her pain validated. Grief after losing a child is an intense and personal journey. It is natural to grieve, to cry or to feel profound sense of loss.

The societal expectations that mothers should suppress their grief can be damaging. It is important for everyone around to understand that grieving mothers don’t need advices only they need empathy, support, and love. Unfortunately many people fail to provide this, instead offering platitudes and admonitions against showing grief. This response leaves grieving mothers feeling more isolated and misunderstood of her loss.

It is important to remember that every person’s grief journey is unique. Allowing a grieving mother to express her emotions without fear of judgement is really important. Simple gestures of empathy – a hug, a kind word or just sitting in silence with her can be far more comforting than any advice.

What she longs for is a compassionate ear, someone who will sit with her in her sorrow without trying to fix it. This grief is all consuming, affecting every aspect of the life. She struggles to find joy in activities that once brought her happiness. Even the world has lost its colour and everything seems tinged with a shadow.

In the midst of this, she clings to her faith, finding solace in her belief that to Allah we belong and to him we shall return. She prays for strength, for the patience to endure this trial, and for the peace that only Allah can provide. Her faith is lifeline, a source of comfort amidst the storm of her emotions. Yet, despite her faith, she is still human.

She needs the support of those around her – the comforting presence of her husband, the understanding embrace of her family. She needs them to acknowledge her pain, to understand that her tears are not the sign of weakness but a natural part of her grieving process. She needs them to offer their shoulder to cry upon. Her grief is a testament to the love she holds for her child, and her journey through it requires support, understanding, and a space to heal at her own pace. 

By Saba Farheen, Research scholar Zoology