What does it REALLY feel like?

Posted in: Blog
‘Forgive me for asking, but what does it REALLY feel like, being a mum to a child who has passed away?’
To some, a heartless and thoughtless question. To me, a welcome one.
Being a mum to a child who has gained their angel wings too soon is the most bittersweet ‘job’ to have. As of today, I have lived for 111 days without my little boy, when I thought I would never manage one. I feel proud of myself for surviving.
Every single day is difficult. I keep being told that, as the years go by, I will learn to move forward without Otis. It hasn’t been ‘years’ for me yet, so I wouldn’t know. I take each day as it comes – I don’t WANT to think about moving forward, I don’t WANT to think about being years down the line. It has been 3 months for me and, honestly, I kinda like where I’m at right now.

I like that Otis’ passing is still so raw, mainly for the sheer ignorance of people around me. Many of the people I know ASSUME that, as time passes, my son’s life will become less important to me and his death less upsetting. Being only 3 months past burying my baby gives me ‘permission’ from the world to cry. Being only 3 months past burying my baby is ‘validation’ that it’s okay to not want to get out of bed some days. I get scared. In fact, I would go as far as saying it TERRIFIES me, knowing that one day, people will think I’m stupid for crying.


But, at the same time, I HATE that his passing is still so raw. I want to get to the stage where I have learned to accept my new ‘normal’ … I want to get to the stage where I have learned to live without my son. I don’t want to feel like I do every. single. day.


I don’t want to feel this deep level of pain that is so intense it often becomes physical. I don’t want to hurt this badly. I don’t want to cry myself to sleep every night. I don’t want to. I really don’t.

Being a mummy to the most perfectly beautiful little angel baby is an honour, it’s a blessing and I am beyond thankful that Otis chose me. If I had the chance to choose between Otis and a happy, healthy, living but DIFFERENT baby, I would choose Otis. In every world, at any time, in any circumstances, I would choose him. If choosing him and losing him meant being given the chance to love him, then I would choose him.


He is my son and I am SO proud of him. Otis is a very special little boy. He is moving mountains from the stars. Otis has done more in his 35 weeks of life than some people do in a lifetime. He doesn’t need to be here to make me proud. His sheer determination to live; his courage to fight against all the odds stacked against him; is enough to make me proud of him for the rest of my life. Until I breathe my last breath, I will be proud of him.


But it hurts. It hurts so badly.
What does it feel like to be a mum to a child who has passed away? It’s like putting your child to bed one night for the very last time, KNOWING that the goodnight kiss is, this time, a goodbye kiss. It’s like cuddling a slab of granite, instead of holding your baby to your chest when he cries. It’s like holding a remembrance teddy to your chest instead of having your child snuggled there. It’s like screaming in to your pillow at night, begging for your baby to come home, offering your life for theirs, instead of having sweet dreams.

Being a mummy to a little boy who never opened his eyes is the hardest thing I have EVER had to do. All the pain I have ever experienced in my life, combined, doesn’t even come remotely close to the pain I felt hearing those words – ‘I’m sorry, he’s gone.’


Being a mummy to a little boy who never cried, laying him down into his moses basket knowing it was the very last time I would ever see him, it’s a level of pain beyond understanding – I couldn’t put it in to words if I tried.


But it’s worth it because I know him. It’s worth it because he is mine, and I am his, regardless. It’s worth it because death does not take away that he’s my child. It’s worth it because all the pain in the world doesn’t come close to the feeling of love I have for him. It’s worth it because he is my child and I would walk to the end of the Earth on hot coal for him; I would give him the beat out of my heart and the blood running through my veins; I would take my last breath right now, this very second, if it meant he would take his first; without question.

Though I may not get to see him, I may not get to cuddle him, I may not get to kiss him and read him bedtime stories, I may not have been able to bring him home, I may not be able to hear his first word or watch him walk, I may not be able to take him to nursery or school, I may not be able to watch him grow, I promise you that I love my son just as much as you love yours.


I promise you that I would do for him, what you would do for yours.


So, what IS it like, being a mummy to a child who has passed away? Let me put it this way:


Despite the pain, the tears, the sleepless nights, the graveside stories the funeral planning and the last goodbye … I would rather be a mummy to my son who has passed away, than to have never known him.


Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; you are missed beyond words and loved beyond measure.
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