“Thousands of mothers lose a child every day.” “Everybody has a cross to bear.” “Think about your other son.”
These are a few of the “reasonable” but insensitive responses people might be thinking even if they do not share them. I even say the same things to myself, sometimes. But Malcolm was my son. Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, as Genesis Chapter 2 says. Although the end of this story in Genesis is used as a metaphor for marriage, man and woman joining again as one flesh, the language of bone from bone and flesh from flesh is much better suited to parenthood, especially motherhood. A child is literally part of a mother’s body, fed by her blood. Losing a child is like losing a limb. The scar is permanent and the pain continues long after the loss, like the pain suffered by an amputee in a leg that is no longer part of her body. So to anyone who dares wonder if it is time for me to get over my grief I say, Have your leg amputed and in two years I will ask you if you are ready to move on. Then we can talk!