Mom Talk: Working Through The Grief Of Losing A Child

9:00 am
10/01/21

Photographed by Kevin Allen

October marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, an important time to honor lives lost tragically early and those grappling with the devastation of losing a pregnancy or a young child. One mother who has been vocal about her own healing journey is Felicia Gangloff-Bailey. The Oakland-based mother lost her first child, Kamaiu Sol, shortly after birth two years ago, after carrying her beloved daughter for 41 weeks in a healthy pregnancy. We were honored to have Felicia share her personal story so poetically in our Mother’s Day-themed video, Mother Each Other, seen here. Now the mother to a second daughter, Kamali Sade Sol, whom she welcomed earlier this year, Felicia is looking to help other “Angel Mothers” through their life-long healing process with her new book, Sol Affirmations: A Toolkit For Mothers Who Are Investigating Grief’s Process. Filled with over 50 beautiful affirmations—including ‘”I’m grateful to be a Mother. Differently than I ever imagined. But not a deficit in who I am. I am a Mother.”—there is also room for written reflections alongside each one. Before scooping up the book for yourself or for a friend, we encourage you to read Felicia’s touching introduction below and continue to follow her journey @fefemonique on Instagram, as well as her husband’s “Angel Father” journey @karegabailey.

Three days after I experienced the double transition of my daughter, time brought me to the doorsteps of my home. Forced to cross the threshold into an unimaginable truth, I returned to the place that was prepared to raise the child I was carrying, without the child I carried.

Instead my arms and hands were filled with bags and boxes containing the items necessary for my body’s postpartum journey. My husband had the same. Evidence we had a baby that we could not hold. Heavy with the weight of heartbreak, setting down those things brought no ease.

My arms ached for my child more than my body labored to have her. I searched the hallways and corners of my mind’s processing to make sense of what happened. These walls, without her, never made sense. They only housed my suffering.

The immediate days following felt long and lonely. My despair sent me searching for reprieve. Not to mention my new truth awakened the telling of unmentionable losses along with well-intentioned unpurposed phrases that only added to my anguish.

I began to ask myself “why?” and search for a reference. Looking for someone, anyone, who shared an experience like mine, who understood the pain and who could tell me how they’re getting through. In my search, I found that no glass breaks the same. Still, I learned I was not the only one broken. In fact, finding mothers at different walks of loss helped me to grieve. It was the fearless and courageous telling of their truths that empowered me and helped me put together the pieces of my identity and accept my becoming an Angel Mother.

Admittedly, this frame of mind wasn’t something that was undoubtedly understood. One might hear the sounds of loss echoed by raging screams with a brook of tears in the days leading up to this understanding. Spending days feeling that nothing could come from this heartache. No overcoming or empowering narrative. No “aha’s” for anyone trying to rationalize the meaning of my despair.

The pathway of my process had to put together pen and paper to understand and honor the truth within me away from the outward noise of reason. And just as time is the only measure in offering new tomorrows, I needed each today, in its varied timing, to allow myself to experience, interrogate, and investigate the honesty of what I was feeling and what I understood about grief.

Encouraged by my husband’s courage to lean into the processing of his grief after experiencing the loss of his brother, Kareem Johnson, I found myself taking note of the meeting between my pen and paper and reading between each line to see what grief came to teach me. And it is here, on these pages, where you will find pieces of my journal entries. On these pages, you will find evidence of my processing. A processing that, I found, could not be rushed. A processing that required its timing.

The timing helped me understand that the grief I was feeling was love. A love that I had for my child and its intense growth with each passing day. These pages are the evidence of taking the time to process this truth and affirm this knowing. And for what my eyes were seeking, these pages are for reference.

Rather than a detailed roadmap on how to grieve, I mean for this book of affirmations to be a resource, amidst outside noise, into understanding one’s truth. You will find with each affirmation a space for personal reflection as an invitation to one’s own process. Let the space for writing be a toolkit to honor one’s grief. To honor the Love. For it is a Love that, I found, infinitely remains.

For the Mothers who are grieving, who haven’t had the time to find their words. For the Mothers who, in anguish, have felt piercingly alone. For the Mothers, who are still Mothers, despite what someone else’s eyes see. For the mothers who, while navigating the complexities of their own grief, courageously and willingly share their story. For Mothers who are experiencing love and defining their truth.

There is something special about the process. It is yours. It is ongoing. It is present. It is ever. It is, always. It is…

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