Being a mother after the death of a child

Mothering Differently Yet
Very Much the Same

Being a Mother After the Death of a Child

By Courtney Fields Connelly

Published May 13th, 2018

Mothering is physically and emotionally intense. Some days I feel successful, but there are others where I feel like I’m not doing anything right. As women, we gain strength, understanding, and advice from other mothers who are walking with us on this journey.

I am the mother of two boys. Elliot is 9 years old and Silas is forever a newborn whose imperfect heart wasn’t made for this world. For me, mothering both of my boys — though vastly different — is very much something I do in the present tense.

"Though our mothering may look quite different than the mothering our hearts long for most, we — as bereaved mothers standing in solidarity with one another — must love, grieve, and honor all of our children." Tweet

My mothering of Elliot is obvious and relatable with the women I am “doing life with.” Like them, I mother Elliot by taking him to piano lessons, reminding him not to be too chatty while his teacher is talking, and by watching him play with his cousins.

My mothering of Silas, however, is neither obvious nor relatable to many, but it is still very real and often very draining for me.

I mother Silas through all of the ways in which I honor his brief and precious life. I pour love into my students at school. I celebrate the milestones of my nephews — who are near the age Silas would have been. I listen and offer understanding to other bereaved mothers who feel overwhelmed and misunderstood. And I help the The SILAS Program — named in his honor — which supports other families that face life-limiting diagnoses for their newborns.

In much the same way I put energy into being Elliot’s mom and doing my best for and by him, I do the same for Silas.

Yes, the mothering of my boys may look very different. With Elliot, I am blessed to care for him through the daily tasks of caring for a living child, whereas with Silas, my mothering is more internal and focused on grieving well. But no matter how different my mothering appear, both deserve my energy and focus every single day. In the past, when I have tried to fight against this fact and hide it away from those closest to me, I felt even more physically depleted and emotionally drained.

Though our mothering may look quite different than the mothering our hearts long for most, we — as bereaved mothers standing in solidarity with one another — must love, grieve, and honor all of our children.

Moms: I see you. I see each of you and I applaud you!

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About the Author

Courtney Fields Connelly is a teacher at Jenks High School and co-organizer of The SILAS Program at Hillcrest Medical Center. Always up for a new book and a cup of coffee, Courtney lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband Blake and is the proud mother of her two boys, Elliot and Silas.

Courtney Fields Connelly

Courtney Fields Connelly is a teacher at Jenks High School and co-organizer of The SILAS Program at Hillcrest Medical Center. Always up for a new book and a cup of coffee, Courtney lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband Blake and is the proud mother of her two boys, Elliot and Silas.

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