I am Strong


I am strong because on October 15th, 2010 at 37 weeks pregnant we walked into our OB office and found out our son Tiberius had passed away.

I am strong because I laboured for 12 beautiful hours and gave birth to my stillborn son in a silent room.

I am strong because on October 22nd 2010, my husband and I buried our first child.

I am strong because 12 weeks after we buried our first son we found out we were expecting again.

I am strong because on May 2nd, 2011, at 18 weeks pregnant, we found out our second son Jacob would not be coming home with us, he was given a fatal diagnosis.

I am strong because despite having a fatal diagnosis we chose to carry Jacob and do everything we possibly could.

I am strong because during the next 18 weeks Jacob’s diagnosis changed into something no medical doctor had ever seen before and his prognosis became unknown.

I am strong because on September 5th, 2011, our son Jacob was born via c-section. He cried even though we were told he would not.

I am strong because for the next 2 1/2 days Jacob fought so hard to stay with us and we fought so hard to keep him comfortable and did everything we could.

I am strong because at 7:45pm on September 7th, we had to make a decision no parent should ever have to make, we pulled his life support and Jacob peacefully passed away.

I am strong because on September 14th, 2011 we buried our second child.

I am strong because 9 months after we buried Jacob we decided to try once more.

I am strong because we became pregnant with what we hoped would truly be our rainbow babe.

I am strong because at 18 weeks we found out we were having a healthy little girl.

I am strong because I carried her for 36 1/2 weeks all along knowing we could lose her too.

I am strong because on January 8th, 2013, I was induced and we were on the way to meeting our miracle babe.

I am strong because after 16 rough hours of vbac labour, our miracle baby, Phoebe Faith, was born. Crying, screaming, healthy and alive.

I am strong because even though I only parent one child, I am a mother of three.

I am strong because I have carried 3 children full term but two already reside in Heaven.

I am strong because I chose to cling onto hope and faith when everything else was against us.

I am strong because parenting a rainbow baby is a challenging time in life.

I am strong because my hopes and dreams have been shattered but I chose to hold on and now have a beautiful little girl who is the light of my life.

Mamas who have endured loss, don’t ever give up. Your rainbow could be one more rainy day away.


This post originally appeared on Birth Without Fear’s Facebook page, as part of the “I Am Strong” series.


Saying Goodbye

Almost ten years ago, I witnessed my first leaving-of-the-soul-from-the-physical-body.

It was a young woman, 28 years of age. She left behind two children- three and five.

She had no immediate family members with her in the room when she was making her transition. Her journey into this world was a short and lonely one.  She was all alone in a foreign country save her husband and her children. My mother was a distant cousin of hers. When I walked into the hospital room with my mother and sister, I noticed that the room was very different than the other rooms I had visited before in the very same hospital. I also noticed that it was too quiet. The only sound was of the machines connected to her.

There was nothing around her, no tray, no food. We stood next to an aunt who was reading the Quran out loud to the dying young woman. We waited for her to finish. My aunt walked over to us and told us the doctors said the young woman would pass away before the morning. I looked over at the young woman, who looked so beautiful, her eyes closed and dark lashes on her cheek. Her breath was labored. I let my aunt talk to Mama and walked over to the young woman. I didn’t know her very well. She was only a few years older than me. She had always been kind, soft spoken and gentle.

“I am here to hold you hand,” I said to her in Pashto. I kept thinking about how frightened I was and knew she was probably even more frightened, knowing she was dying. She must have known, right? “Inshallah, your children will be well taken care of, their father loves them.”

She made a sound, my mother and aunt ran over. It was hours before she finally took her last breath. In that time, she didn’t make any more movements, her husband had an emotional breakdown, and we kept reading the Quran to her. I kept her hand held.

In the hours we waited for her to pass, I thought about where her soul was stuck. In a place not quite here, but not quite “there.” In Islam, a person who goes through an illness such as cancer, is considered a martyr and guaranteed heaven. Since she was such a kind human being, I knew her “there” was heaven. I wondered what she felt. Was she aware of us? Was she aware that she was leaving her young children? Did she care that she was leaving them? Was it dark? Was it light? Was she in pain? Could she feel us? Hear us? Was she waiting to stop breathing or was she holding on? Did she want to die?

I know none of the answers. I simply held her hand and kept praying over her and talking to her until she continued on her voyage from the body she had resided in for 28 years to a nameless place we will all go. My aunts commented on how strong I seemed to be despite my tears, puffy eyes, and red nose.

Years later, I dreamed she was at my grandparents’ home in Pakistan. She was on her way onto the rooftop, where the family sometimes sat and chatted. She saw me from the stairs and stopped on her way up. She looked down at me. She looked healthy. After greeting me, she asked me how her children were. i told her that they were good, that their father was taking care of them. She nodded, smiled and continued on her way up. She had to go. I woke up feeling happy that I saw her.

The second person I witnessed pass away was my Grandma. Grandma and my sister Saira were my best friends throughout high school. Grandma, Saira and I hung out at the mall all day long, shopping and eating until sunset. On the way home, we would stop by and pick up See’s candy, some M&M’s and donuts from Lucky’s. You could say Grandma had a sweet tooth.

She spoke very little Pashto and called my mother, Purrween, unable to roll her R’s properly. She was the one who taught Saira and I how to play poker, beat others in Monopoly and got us hooked on to football and the Superbowl. She was the original Niner fan. My parents left us with her when they went out of town. We spent the night listening to Oldies, which were her favorite. When “In the Middle of the Night,” blasted through the speakers of her little radio, we all jumped out of our beds and danced.

I was blessed that she saw my husband Mohammad Chris before she passed away. She couldn’t talk but nodded and smiled when she saw him. She pointed at him and asked me to come near.

“Handsome,” she whispered and winked, through her breathing apparatus.

We all laughed. A few weeks later, I was in the hospital waiting for her to transcend into the other world. I couldn’t believe my tenacious, vibrant, hard headed Grandma was leaving the world, leaving me. I was annoyed at all the cultural drama that surrounded her bed, but also knew she would welcome it, as she had welcomed it years before when she had married Babajee, a Pashtun man, passionate and loud.

I watched her face and didn’t recognize her. Was she still inside of this body that was before me? Or had she already transcended to wherever one goes? Was she watching me from above

She had lost so much weight- I was scared to touch her. But again I thought about terrified she must be, so I walked over to her bed. Sobbing, I held her soft hand and felt the warmth in it, I suddenly knew she was still with me. She had not left us yet.  I whispered to her that I was there. I prayed over her, and I even reminded her of funny things she used to do like try and speak Pashto. I waited for what seemed like only a few minutes but was in fact four hours before she quietly left us.  Her final departure so very different than the happy, flurry goodbyes she had always given , filled with kisses, “I love you’s” and promises that we would soon see each other again.

I leaned over and kissed her face because I knew it would be the last time I would be able to touch her, to kiss her now empty body, the vessel that held her soul for almost 80 years.

I am still waiting for Grandma to visit me in my dream.

Sometimes I wonder if Allah had me witness two such deaths to prepare me for the hardest good bye of them all- my own son, Ibrahim. It was the hardest only because I never expected to say good bye to my own child, I thought I would die before my children.  Of course, I now know something I should have known before, that death does not see age, race, gender- it is without any of the human prejudices, when it takes the soul on it’s voyage from this world to the next.

After a tumultuous pregnancy, Doctors told me my son would live, despite his heart defect. He was born with high Apgar scores and I was told he was feisty. Yet, I never saw him without the needles and tubes. I never even saw him with his eyes open.

Initially, doctors and nurses kept reassuring me that he would be fine. On the day after his birth, I dreamed that I received a gift from my husband, hundreds of colorful balloons that slipped away from my hand. I woke up alarmed because I knew my baby, Ibrahim, would be leaving me soon, even though Doctors were being positive.

It wasn’t long before the Doctors stopped saying anything to me- the next day they started avoiding eye contact, maybe in hopes I wouldn’t ask them anything. They never figured out what was wrong with him. The last day of his life, I woke up from a nightmare, breathless and covered in sweat. In my dream, I kept trying to hold Ibrahim, my baby, but his hospital bed was being pulled into the dark, away from me.

When the doctors told us that our son would not survive the night, my husband and I cried and simply nodded. With my whole family and husband by my side, I held my son. Again, I watched a human on its journey from this world to the next. I wondered not only if he was scared and all alone, but if he felt that I was abandoning him. Was I considered a good mother, and if he leaves, would I be a mother at all? As any mother who prepares her child for a trip, I wanted to make sure he had everything he needed to be safe and happy when he got to his destination.  I had nothing to offer my child to take on this ultimate trip, but my prayers, my words of love, promises that I would be seeing him soon, and reassurance that I didn’t want him to leave but knew I had to let him go.  I promised him that he would be well taken care of in heaven.

I wanted to scream and shout and run out of the hospital at how unfair it was that my child was dying  and on his way out of this world when he hadn’t seen anything, not even his own bedroom. He would be making a journey that I should have made before him. I hated that he was not going to be going home with us.- that my lap would be cold and empty.

Slowly, his little body went limp, and I knew he was gone. Then I wondered how the morgue would be. Would he feel the cold? Would he feel alone? Was he already in heaven? And when I stopped thinking about what would happen to him, I wondered how I was going to survive. My body was still raw from the pain of having a baby and recovering from carrying him for nine months. My body betrayed me by not understanding my loss and my grief, going through the normal process of being a mother by producing milk. I hated my body, I hated the milk.  The guilt that accompanies the grief when you outlive your child, is almost too much to bear.

After my painful dreams, I asked God not to have Ibrahim visit me in my dreams until I was able to bear the pain of seeing him. When my second son, Musa, turned one and I was pregnant with my third child, a daughter, I finally had the dream. In my dream, my husband was praying on his Janamaz and next to him was a young boy about 3-4 with curly brown hair and a kufi. At frst, I thought it was Musa, but when I looked closer, Musa stood behind my husband, playing between his leg and on my husband’s back as he prayed. i looked back at the older boy and realized he was not a stranger, but my eldest son, Ibrahim. I woke up happy that I was honored with such a dream; honored to have seen my son from heaven.

Death is a strange and scary thing. It is also inevitable. I wish that I could say that my experiences have made me strong enough to witness anything, but I can’t. Sometimes I think it has made me weaker, in some ways. I wake up with my heart beating fast at night wondering if my children are breathing. I hope and pray my husband remains healthy, I live with a very real fear that he, and those i love, will leave this world, too. My parents’ health is constantly on my mind. I pray that they lead a healthy life and if possible, live forever. The thought of losing a sibling or their children paralyzes me with fear, but I cannot control these thoughts.

At the same time, there is a realization in me that nothing is permanent and that nothing really belongs to me or anyone else in this world. And this is a very liberating feeling.

It is these thoughts that, I hope, make me a better human and make me realize that I will be meeting Allah one day, and so will all the people that I love, and don’t love. My experience has taught me that people I don’t know could be suffering from a great loss. When I was grieving, no one but those closest to me knew and sometimes I wanted to shout, “Please leave me alone, my son just died!”

So I try to treat all of Allah’s creations with kindness and love. I try to be just and not hurt others. I try to do what I can in this world to make a difference. May Allah forgive me for my shortcomings and may Allah make me a source of good for all of humanity.

Prophet PBUH said, “Be in this world as though you were a traveler.” and “Do for this life as if you will live forever, and do for the Life After as if you will die tomorrow.”


Dear Mother to a New Angel


My heart has been full since I heard about your baby’s passing.  I tried to think of words to say to make you feel better, yet I am at a loss.  I, who lost my own son to an unknown illness, I, who should know what to say to console your broken heart, have nothing to say to you except that I understand your pain and I weep for you.

People will tell you it is for the best that your little girl passed.  That she had a difficult life and even her illness before her passing was painful for her.  I know this and so do you, but we both also know that we would have done anything to take the pain away from our babies.  We know that even if it is the truth it is so hard to hear.  Deep down, what makes letting go of our babies easier is knowing there will be no more pain.  No more poking, cuts, tubes, doctors, medicine…there will be peace.

It may have been a short time you had with your baby, but you will never forget her.  Well meaning people will tell you that in time you will forget.  The thing is you will never want to forget any part of her- not her smile, not her illness, not her in the hospital room.  Every memory is cherished.

You can’t help but cry. The Prophet (PBUH) loved his son, Ibrahim, so much: “He held Ibrahim in his hands, and tears flowed from his eyes.He said, “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.” Then he turned his face towards the mountain before his and said, “O mountain! If you were as sorrowful as I am, you would certainly crumble into pieces! But we say what Allah has ordered us.”  Great men like Marcus Aurelius and Abraham Lincoln mourned their children their whole lives and even wrote about them.  There is even a study that showed that one of the last thing a human remembers and talks about (even those who lose their senses) is the loss of their young children.  It is human nature to want to outlive your child.  It feels unnatural to bury your child and ,therefore, hard to deal with.

You will cry.  You will have sleepless nights.  You need to stay strong for your living children.  You must remember that only Allah sees the big picture.  We have no idea why our babies were taken from us but I believe that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will reveal all.  You must remember that Allah does not burden us more than we can bear.  And Allah tests those He loves.  His test for you was so big, I know His love for you is just as big.

Your little angel is happy, pain free, in heaven.  She is playing with my angel and other angels that went before her.  She sits under the tree with the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) as he reads to all of our angels.  She waits patiently for you.  She has secured your place in jannah.  When you are standing before Allah (SAW) she is the one who will stand next to Him and intercede for you.  She will not let Allah go until you are in jannah.  She is your gift and she is your key to jannah.

I want you to know that although the pain doesn’t leave you altogether, it does change and it does get easier to live with.  Your heart will always feel a loss but with time comes a healing and an understanding that we shall meet our loved ones again, soon, iA.

Today, I have cried like I have not cried in a long time.  I cried for your beautiful baby and your tremendous loss.  I cried for a pain only a mother of a dead child can feel.  I cried, also, because, your loss reminded me of my little Ibrahim but knowing your beautiful baby is with him now makes me feel better.

It is odd the bond we have.  And it is beautiful.  I cannot wait until the day we stand before Allah and are rejoined with our babies.  That reunion will be the best part of our heaven.  And this only you, I, and other mothers who have lost their children know.

With love and prayers always.

Sabina Baji



My favorite game when I was a child was Mummy and Explorer. My father and I would trade off roles: one of us had to lie very still with eyes closed and arms crossed over the chest, and the other had to complain, “I’ve been searching these pyramids for so many years. When will I ever find the tomb of Tutankhamun?” (This was in the late seventies, when Tut was at the Met, and we came in from the suburbs to visit him frequently.) At the climax of the game, the explorer stumbles on the embalmed Pharaoh and—brace yourself—the mummy opens his eyes and comes to life. The explorer has to express shock, and then says, “So, what’s new?” To which the mummy replies, “You.”

I was not big on playing house. I preferred make-believe that revolved around adventure, featuring pirates and knights. I was also domineering, impatient, relentlessly verbal, and, as an only child, often baffled by the mores of other kids. I was not a popular little girl. I played Robinson Crusoe in a small wooden fort that my parents built for me in the back yard. In the fort, I was neither ostracized nor ill at ease—I was self-reliant, brave, ingeniously surviving, if lost.

The other natural habitat for a child who loves words and adventure is the page, and I was content when my parents read me “Moby-Dick,” “Pippi Longstocking,” or “The Hobbit.” I decided early that I would be a writer when I grew up. That, I thought, was the profession that went with the kind of woman I wanted to become: one who is free to do whatever she chooses. I started keeping a diary in third grade and, in solidarity with Anne Frank, gave it a name and made it my confidante. To this day, I feel comforted and relieved of loneliness, no matter how foreign my surroundings, if I have a pad and a pen with which to record my experiences.

I’ve spent the past twenty years putting myself in foreign surroundings as frequently as possible. There is nothing I love more than travelling to a place where I know nobody, and where everything will be a surprise, and then writing about it. The first time I went to Africa for a story, I was so excited that I barely slept during the entire two-week trip. Everything was new: the taste of springbok meat, the pink haze over Cape Town, the noise and chaos of the corrugated-tin alleyways in Khayelitsha township. I could still feel spikes of adrenaline when I was back at my desk in New York, typing, while my spouse cooked a chicken in the kitchen.

But as my friends, one after another, made the journey from young woman to mother, it glared at me that I had not. I would often listen to a Lou Reed song called “Beginning of a Great Adventure,” about the possibilities of imminent parenthood. “A little me or he or she to fill up with my dreams,” Lou sings, with ragged hopefulness, “a way of saying life is not a loss.” It became the soundtrack to my mulling on motherhood. I knew that a child would make life as a professional explorer largely impossible. But having a kid seemed in many ways like the wildest trip of all.

I always get terrified right before I travel. I become convinced that this time will be different: I won’t be able to figure out the map, or communicate with non-English speakers, or find the people I need in order to write the story I’ve been sent in search of. I will be lost and incompetent and vulnerable. I know that my panic will turn to excitement once I’m there—it always does—but that doesn’t make the fear before takeoff any less vivid. So it was with childbearing: I was afraid for ten years. I didn’t like childhood, and I was afraid that I’d have a child who didn’t, either. I was afraid I would be an awful mother. And I was afraid of being grounded, sessile—stuck in one spot for eighteen years of oboe lessons and math homework that I couldn’t finish the first time around.

I was on book tour in Athens when I decided that I would do it. My partner—who had always indicated that I would need to cast the deciding vote on parenthood—had come with me, and we were having one of those magical moments in a marriage when you find each other completely delightful. My Greek publisher and his wife took us out dancing and drinking, and cooked for us one night in their little apartment, which was overrun with children, friends, moussaka, and cigarette smoke. “Americans are not relaxed,” one of the other guests told me, holding his three-year-old and drinking an ouzo. Greece was falling apart. The streets of Athens were crawling with cats and dogs that people had abandoned because they could no longer afford pet food. But our hosts were jubilant. Their family didn’t seem like a burden; it seemed like a party. The idea bloomed in my head that being governed by something other than my own wishes and wanderlust might be a pleasure, a release.

I got pregnant quickly, to my surprise and delight, shortly before my thirty-eighth birthday. It felt like making it onto a plane the moment before the gate closes—you can’t help but thrill. After only two months, I could hear the heartbeat of the creature inside me at the doctor’s office. It seemed like magic: a little eye of newt in my cauldron and suddenly I was a witch with the power to brew life into being. Even if you are not Robinson Crusoe in a solitary fort, as a human being you walk this world by yourself. But when you are pregnant you are never alone.

My doctor told me that it was fine to fly up until the third trimester, so when I was five months pregnant I decided to take one last big trip. It would be at least a year, maybe two, before I’d be able to leave home for weeks on end and feel the elation of a new place revealing itself. (It’s like having a new lover—even the parts you aren’t crazy about have the crackling fascination of the unfamiliar.) Just before Thanksgiving, I went to Mongolia.

People were alarmed when I told them where I was going, but I was pleased with myself. I liked the idea of being the kind of woman who’d go to the Gobi Desert pregnant, just as, at twenty-two, I’d liked the idea of being the kind of girl who’d go to India by herself. And I liked the idea of telling my kid, “When you were inside me, we went to see the edge of the earth.” I wasn’t truly scared of anything but the Mongolian winter. The tourist season winds down in October, and by late November, when I got on the plane, the nights drop to twenty degrees below zero. But I was prepared: I’d bought snow pants big enough to fit around my convex gut and long underwear two sizes larger than I usually wear.

To be pregnant is to be in some kind of discomfort pretty much all the time. For the first few months, it was like waking up with a bad hangover every single morning but never getting to drink—I was nauseated but hungry, afflicted with a perpetual headache, and really qualified only to watch television and moan. That passed, but a week before I left for Mongolia I started feeling an ache in my abdomen that was new. “Round-ligament pain” is what I heard from everyone I knew who’d been pregnant, and what I read on every prenatal Web site: the uterus expanding to accommodate the baby, as he finally grew big enough to make me look actually pregnant, instead of just chunky. That thought comforted me on the fourteen-hour flight to Beijing, while I shifted endlessly, trying to find a position that didn’t hurt my round ligaments.

When my connecting flight landed in Mongolia, it was morning, but the gray haze made it look like dusk. Ulaanbaatar is among the most polluted capital cities in the world, as well as the coldest. The drive into town wound through frozen fields and clusters of felt tents—gers, they’re called there—into a crowded city of stocky, Soviet-era municipal buildings, crisscrossing telephone and trolley lines, and old Tibetan Buddhist temples with pagoda roofs. The people on the streets moved quickly and clumsily, burdened with layers against the bitter weather.

I was there to report a story on the country’s impending transformation, as money flooded in through the mining industry. Mongolia has vast supplies of coal, gold, and copper ore; its wealth was expected to double in five years. But a third of the population still lives nomadically, herding animals and sleeping in gers, burning coal or garbage for heat. Until the boom, Mongolia’s best-known export was cashmere. As Jackson Cox, a young consultant from Tennessee who’d lived in Ulaanbaatar for twelve years, told me, “You’re talking about an economy based on yak meat and goat hair.”

I got together with Cox on my first night in town. He sent a chauffeured car to pick me up—every Westerner I met in U.B. had a car and a driver—at the Blue Sky Hotel, a new and sharply pointed glass tower that split the cold sky like a shark fin. When I arrived at his apartment, he and a friend, a mining-industry lawyer from New Jersey, were listening to Beyoncé and pouring champagne. The place was clean and modern, but modest: for expats in U.B., it’s far easier to accumulate wealth than it is to spend it. We went to dinner at a French restaurant, where we all ordered beef, because seafood is generally terrible in Mongolia, which is separated from the sea by its hulking neighbors (and former occupiers) China and Russia. Then they took me to an underground gay bar called 100 Per Cent—which could have been in Brooklyn, except that everyone in Mongolia still smoked indoors. I liked sitting in a booth in a dark room full of smoking, gay Mongolians, but my body was feeling strange. I ended the night early.

When I woke up the next morning, the pain in my abdomen was insistent; I wondered if the baby was starting to kick, which everyone said would be happening soon. I called home to complain, and my spouse told me to find a Western clinic. I e-mailed Cox to get his doctor’s phone number, thinking that I’d call if the pain got any worse, and then I went out to interview people: the minister of the environment, the president of a mining concern, and, finally, a herdsman and conservationist named Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, who became a folk hero after he fired shots at mining operations that were diverting water from nomadic communities. I met him in the sleek lobby of the Blue Sky with Yondon Badral—a smart, sardonic man I’d hired to translate for me in U.B. and to accompany me a few days later to the Gobi, where we would drive a Land Rover across the cold sands to meet with miners and nomads. Badral wore jeans and a sweater; Munkhbayar was dressed in a long, traditional deel robe and a fur hat with a small metal falcon perched on top. It felt like having a latte with Genghis Khan.

In the middle of the interview, Badral stopped talking and looked at my face; I must have been showing my discomfort. He said that it was the same for his wife, who was pregnant, just a few weeks further along than I was, and he explained the situation to Munkhbayar. The nomad’s skin was chapped pink from the wind; his nostrils, eyes, and ears all looked as if they had receded into his face to escape the cold. I felt a little surge of pride when he said that I was brave to travel so far in my condition. But I was also starting to worry.

I nearly cancelled my second dinner with the Americans that evening, but I figured that I needed to eat, and they offered to meet me at the Japanese restaurant in my hotel. Cox was leaving the next day to visit his family for Thanksgiving, and he was feeling guilty that he’d spent a fortune on a business-class ticket. I thought about my uncomfortable flight over and said that it was probably worth it. “You’re being a princess,” Cox’s friend told him tartly, but I couldn’t laugh. Something was happening inside me. I had to leave before the food came.

I ran back to my room, pulled off my pants, and squatted on the floor of the bathroom, just as I had in Cambodia when I had dysentery, a decade earlier. But the pain in that position was unbearable. I got on my knees and put my shoulders on the floor and pressed my cheek against the cool tile. I remember thinking, This is going to be the craziest shit in history.

I felt an unholy storm move through my body, and after that there is a brief lapse in my recollection; either I blacked out from the pain or I have blotted out the memory. And then there was another person on the floor in front of me, moving his arms and legs, alive. I heard myself say out loud, “This can’t be good.” But it looked good. My baby was as pretty as a seashell.

He was translucent and pink and very, very small, but he was flawless. His lovely lips were opening and closing, opening and closing, swallowing the new world. For a length of time I cannot delineate, I sat there, awestruck, transfixed. Every finger, every toenail, the golden shadow of his eyebrows coming in, the elegance of his shoulders—all of it was miraculous, astonishing. I held him up to my face, his head and shoulders filling my hand, his legs dangling almost to my elbow. I tried to think of something maternal I could do to convey to him that I was, in fact, his mother, and that I had the situation completely under control. I kissed his forehead and his skin felt like a silky frog’s on my mouth.

I was vaguely aware that there was an enormous volume of blood rushing out of me, and eventually that seemed interesting, too. I looked back and forth between my offspring and the lake of blood consuming the bathroom floor and I wondered what to do about the umbilical cord connecting those two things. It was surprisingly thick and ghostly white, a twisted human rope. I felt sure that it needed to be severed—that’s always the first thing that happens in the movies. I was afraid that if I didn’t cut that cord my baby would somehow suffocate. I didn’t have scissors. I yanked it out of myself with one swift, violent tug.

In my hand, his skin started to turn a soft shade of purple. I bled my way across the room to my phone and dialled the number for Cox’s doctor. I told the voice that answered that I had given birth in the Blue Sky Hotel and that I had been pregnant for nineteen weeks. The voice said that the baby would not live. “He’s alive now,” I said, looking at the person in my left hand. The voice said that he understood, but that it wouldn’t last, and that he would send an ambulance for us right away. I told him that if there was no chance the baby would make it I might as well take a cab. He said that that was not a good idea.

Before I put down my phone, I took a picture of my son. I worried that if I didn’t I would never believe he had existed.

When the pair of Mongolian E.M.T.s came through the door, I stopped feeling competent and numb. One offered me a tampon, which I knew not to accept, but the realization that of the two of us I had more information stirred a sickening panic in me and I said I needed to throw up. She asked if I was drunk, and I said, offended, No, I’m upset. “Cry,” she said. “You just cry, cry, cry.” Her partner bent to insert a thick needle in my forearm and I wondered if it would give me Mongolian aids, but I felt unable to do anything but cry, cry, cry. She tried to take the baby from me, and I had the urge to bite her hand. As I lay on a gurney in the back of the ambulance with his body wrapped in a towel on top of my chest, I watched the frozen city flash by the windows. It occurred to me that perhaps I was going to go mad.

In the clinic, there were very bright lights and more needles and I.V.s and I let go of the baby and that was the last I ever saw him. He was on one table and I was on another, far away, lying still under the screaming lights, and then, confusingly, the handsomest man in the world came through the door and said he was my doctor. His voice sounded nice, familiar. I asked if he was South African. He was surprised that I could tell, and I explained that I had spent time reporting in his country, and then we talked a bit about the future of the A.N.C. and about how beautiful it is in Cape Town. I realized that I was covered in blood, sobbing, and flirting.

Soon, he said that he was going home and that I could not return to the Blue Sky Hotel, where I might bleed to death in my room without anyone knowing. I stayed in the clinic overnight, wearing a T-shirt and an adult diaper that a kind, fat, giggling young nurse gave me. After she dressed me, she asked, “You want toast and tea?” It was milky and sweet and reminded me of the chai I drank in Nepal, where I went backpacking in the Himalayas with a friend long before I was old enough to worry about the expiration of my fertility. It had been a trip spent pushing my young body up the mountains, past green-and-yellow terraced fields and villages full of goats, across rope bridges that hung tenuously over black ravines with death at the bottom. We consumed a steady diet of hashish and Snickers bars and ended up in a blizzard that killed several hikers but somehow left us only chilly.

I had been so lucky. Very little had ever truly gone wrong for me before that night on the bathroom floor. And I knew, as surely as I now knew that I wanted a child, that this change in fortune was my fault. I had boarded a plane out of vanity and selfishness, and the dark Mongolian sky had punished me. I was still a witch, but my powers were all gone.

That is not what the doctor said when he came back to the clinic in the morning. He told me that I’d had a placental abruption, a very rare problem that, I later read, usually befalls women who are heavy cocaine users or who have high blood pressure. But sometimes it happens just because you’re old. It could have happened anywhere, the doctor told me, and he repeated what he’d said the night before: there is no correlation between air travel and miscarriage. I said that I suspected he was being a gentleman, and that I needed to get out of the clinic in time for my eleven-o’clock meeting with the secretary of the interior, whose office I arrived at promptly, after I went back to the Blue Sky and showered in my room, which looked like the site of a murder.

I spent the next five days in that room. Slowly, it set in that it was probably best if I went home instead of to the Gobi, but at first I could not leave. Thanksgiving came and went. There were rolling brownouts when everything went dark and still. I lay in my bed and ate Snickers and drank little bottles of whiskey from the minibar while I watched television programs that seemed as strange and bleak as my new life. Someone had put a white bath mat on top of the biggest bloodstain, the one next to my bed, where I had crouched when I called for help, and little by little the white went red and then brown as the blood seeped through it and oxidized. I stared at it. I looked at the snow outside my window falling on the Soviet architecture. But mostly I looked at the picture of the baby.

When I got back from Mongolia, I was so sad I could barely breathe. On five or six occasions, I ran into mothers who had heard what had happened, and they took one look at me and burst into tears. (Once, this happened with a man.) Within a week, the apartment we were supposed to move into with the baby fell through. Within three, my marriage had shattered. I started lactating. I continued bleeding. I cried ferociously and without warning—in bed, in the middle of meetings, sitting on the subway. It seemed to me that grief was leaking out of me from every orifice.

I could not keep the story of what had happened in Mongolia inside my mouth. I went to buy clothes that would fit my big body but that didn’t have bands of stretchy maternity elastic to accommodate a baby who wasn’t there. I heard myself tell a horrified saleswoman, “I don’t know what size I am, because I just had a baby. He died, but the good news is, now I’m fat.” Well-meaning women would tell me, “I had a miscarriage, too,” and I would reply, with unnerving intensity, “He was alive.” I had given birth, however briefly, to another human being, and it seemed crucial that people understand this. Often, after I told them, I tried to get them to look at the picture of the baby on my phone.

After several weeks, I was looking at it only once a day. It was months before I got it down to once a week. I don’t look at it much anymore, but people I haven’t seen in a while will say, “I’m so sorry about what happened to you.” And their compassion pleases me.

But the truth is, the ten or twenty minutes I was somebody’s mother were black magic. There is no adventure I would trade them for; there is no place I would rather have seen. Sometimes, when I think about it, I still feel a dark hurt from some primal part of myself, and if I’m alone in my apartment when this happens I will hear myself making sounds that I never made before I went to Mongolia. I realize that I have turned back into a wounded witch, wailing in the forest, undone.

Most of the time it seems sort of O.K., though, natural. Nature. Mother Nature. She is free to do whatever she chooses. ♦

The original story was posted in The New Yorker.



The Paths to My Heart

I am not sure why I have not written in a long time. I try to dissect my feelings. To open up the bloody mess and follow the veins of my thoughts and explore the chambers of my heart. I get lost every time. I must accept that I will never find my way through the clutter.

Of course, I miss Ibrahim. I have learned that I will always miss him. I miss him in different ways everyday. Most days, I miss his smell or even the smell of the sterile hospital. His yellowed white hospital hat, which I store in two Ziploc bags and smell daily, no longer has his scent. So instead, when I visit people at the hospital, I pump the possibly carcinogenic hand sanitizing lotion twice, close my eyes, and breathe it in deeply. I am immediately taken back to his bedside- his pink abdomen moving rapidly and his lips cracked around the breathing tube. I don’t feel grief but joy for the short moment with him. I open my eyes to see my husband, the only other being on earth who knows why I do this, looking at me. I avoid eye contact and rub my hands together as if nothing happened. Like I said, it’s complicated.

My living children remind me of him. My third child, and second living child, Anabiya, is Ibrahim’s twin. When she is sleeping, I sometimes pretend she is Ibrahim. I watch her sleep and count her breaths and revel in the fact that she breathes freely with no machine. I feel guilty when I do this, because I feel like I am not enjoying Anabiya for who she is and only enjoying her for the memories of Ibrahim. Of course this is not true, I love Anabiya. Her resemblance to Ibrahim just makes my path messier.

My son, Musa is a rambunctious one. I imagine sometimes what it would be like if Ibrahim had lived. Would he join in with Musa and wreak havoc in my home or would would he help me talk to Musa and explain what he should and shouldn’t be doing? How much taller than Musa would he be? Would he know his ABC’s? These uncertainties further muddling the clarity I need to understand how it is that I feel.
After my heart failure, following Anabiya’s birth, doctors advised me not to have anymore children. I knew I wouldn’t have anymore but having it as a part of my prognosis just made it a reality I didn’t want to face. I always liked the idea of having three kids. I just have to learn to accept that while I only have two living children, I am the mother of three children- instead of raising Ibrahim, he is in heaven, waiting. I am at a place where I am content. I am not ungrateful for all that I have been given. But I also realize that I am forever altered and cannot pretend that Ibrahim did not exist.

With each child that you have, a new part of you grows, and as your child grows, the limb becomes bigger and stronger. You learn to live with it and cannot imagine surviving without it. Losing a child is like losing a limb that only the parents of the dead child can see missing. It is a limb that you must learn to function without. I am trying to live my life happily. To function normally with my missing limb. I want to be a good mother to all of my children. But what makes this seemingly easy journey messy is doing this without taking away from my children, the dead and the living. How can I love Ibrahim wholeheartedly while giving my love daily to Musa and Anabiya in a very practical way? And how can I love my living children in the deep, spiritual way I love my dead son? I wish I knew how to find this balance. The rhythmic beat of my life continues while I try to figure out my way and there is no stopping it, and so I continue to love all of my children, each individually for who they are and hope they can all forgive me for my shortcomings. Because my children must know that if they were to look deep into the chambers of my heart, they would find only themselves.

What Not to Say to Grieving Parents by Sabina Khan-Ibarra


When my son, Ibrahim, passed away, I experienced pain beyond my imagination. I felt it in every part of my being, from the superficial gash of my caesarean to my shattered heart. At times I wished I could join Ibrahim in heaven and not have to face my empty womb and lap. I appreciate all the love and support from friends and family that kept me afloat. Without them, I would not have survived.

In the year after Ibrahim’s passing, people would approach me with what they felt were consoling words, and while their intentions were good, they would sometimes say precisely the wrong thing. As a mother who has lost a child, I wanted to lay out a list of what not to say or do when dealing with bereaved parents.

1. Acknowledge the loss. Some people say nothing, awkwardly avoiding the parents, when all that is needed to lift their spirits is a tight hug.
2. “You are lucky he died so young. It would have been much worse if you had seen him grow up and then lost him.” Loss at any stage is painful. It is not up to you to tell a mother and father what would be more or less painful for them.
3. “At least you know you can get pregnant. You’ll have another one.” Children are not interchangeable. We love each child as a unique individual and one will not replace another.
4. “With time you will heal and forget him.” Grieving parents want to treasure, not erase, the memory of the child they lost.
5. “It is for the best that he died now; he may become really sick later and it would have been difficult to take care of him.” Grieving parents would rather dedicate their lives to nursing a sick child than watch their little boy or girl die.
6. “Everything happens for a reason.” This may well be, but reminding a parent that there is a larger plan behind his/her child’s death or even knowing the reason itself does not dull the pain.
7. “There must have been something wrong with him.” Sometimes there are specific health reasons for an infant’s passing, and sometimes there are not. To hear their baby labeled “abnormal” is hurtful for a parent.
8. “He is in a better place” or “You should be happy he is with God.” Grieving parents know this to be true deep down but at that moment, when feelings are raw, there is no better place for the baby than with them.
9. “This world is a bad place. Do you really want your child living in it?” There are other children living in the very same world.
10. “Soon you’ll get over this pain.” Parents do not want to “get over” the pain, as they equate this with getting over their child.
11. “Did you do something in your pregnancy that could have caused this?” This sort of question implies blame and guilt is the last thing parents should be feeling.
12. “Don’t cry.” Let them cry. If they feel comfortable enough to do so in your presence, allow them to release their sorrow rather than hold it in.
13. “You should accept Allah’s decree. You are upsetting Allah by remembering your baby constantly.” Parents will never forget their greatest loss. They will reflect on it every day. Ibrahim came into my life for a reason; I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out why.

Here is a list of what to do and say:

1. Say the child’s name out loud. Just hearing their child’s name will bring parents joy, even if after a moment of sadness.
2. Listen. Some parents will talk endlessly about their child; others simply revel in the quiet.
3. Say the words, “I’m sorry.” These simple words are all’s that’s needed.
4. Remind the parents of any hadith on losing children. Hearing about the Prophet’s grief upon losing some of his children in infancy helped me realize that my grief was not misplaced.
5. Suggest websites, names of other bereaved parents, support groups, and articles that may help them. Often, grieving parents are looking for others like themselves.
6. Offer to run errands, take kids to school or cook dinner for the grieving family. Demonstrate that you care with your actions.
7. Ask the grieving parents what specifically you can do to make this difficult time easier on them.
8. Don’t compare trials in your life to their loss unless it is relevant.
9. Say “there are no words for me to say to you.” At least parents know you have tried to find the right words.
10. Remember the child on holidays, his birth date and his death date. Friends who email, call, text, or even send flowers on Ibrahim’s birthday have a special place in my heart.
11. Simply saying, “I am thinking of you” and “You are in my thoughts” reminds parents they are not alone in their grief.
12. Give them time and space. This shows them that you are respecting rather than trying to rush their grieving process.
13. Pray for them. They need all the prayers for patience and peace they can get.

Remember, even if the wrong things are said by well-meaning family and friends, the grieving parents will appreciate and love them for simply being there during the most difficult time in their lives.

Choking with sorrow, (the Prophet) said to his son, “O Ibrahim, against the judgment of God, we cannot avail you a thing,” … With tears in his eyes he talked once more to the dead child: “O Ibrahim, were the truth not certain that the last of us will join the first, we would have mourned you even more than we do now.” A moment later he said: “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.” (Muhammad Husayn Haykal)

Ibrahim’s Visit

My dream: I dreamed of my husband praying. Musa played around him, as he usually does, climbing his back and imitating him. I noticed that next to my husband a little boy, about two years old, also praying. I was confused. The little boy looked like Musa, but it wasn’t Musa. I thought for a long while until I realized it was my Ibrahim, standing with his arms folded next to his father. I woke up then. Happy.

Alhamdulillah, Allah honored me by letting Ibrahim visit me. ♥

So Life Has Moved On

Life has moved on, but I have not. Let me make this clear.

Things change and life happens but I still remain the mourning mother. Some may think this makes me morbid. Some may say I am unthankful. Others may simply pray that I get over my grief. Honestly, I don’t care what others think. This is a public declararion that I may never move on.

I put Musa on the living room floor today and tickled him until he squirmed his way out of my grasp. I called him back and said, “You are my one true love, my son, my Musa.” I kissed him. Suddenly, I felt a pain deep in my soul and said just as loud to the bare wall in front of me, “You are my one true love, my first son, my Ibrahim.”

Does that make me a psycho? Does this mean I believe in ghosts?

I don’t know.

I had to vocalize it in case Ibrahim heard or had knowledge of what i had said. There was no response to my professing to the empty room.

Did I almost forget him? How could I? What kind of a mother was I? I had carried him full term and he breathed the same air as I for eight days. He was a living being. He was my son. He IS my son.

The guilt does not consume me nor do I obsess over these thoughts. But they are there, just below the surface- a surface that should be thick now and just as resilient.

I moved from my beloved Bay to Davis. I have a two bedroom apartment now. I will probably get new furniture. Musa is now crawling. My husband is now officially a doctor. I am officially at home, being a mom and a writer (two things I have always wanted). mA, mA, mA, mA, mA, mA, nA. Things are changing. Life is changing. Yet the yearning for him remains. The pain is the same.

I revel in this pain now, since it is all I have left of him.

The Five Stages of Overcoming Grief and Loss

Adapted from the presentation at the 49th annual ISNA Conference in Washington D.C. on 9/2/2012

Death is difficult for many people to deal with yet it’s the most certain end to us all. In Islam, we are encouraged to live our lives as if we will live to be 100 but prepare as if today is our last day on earth. Regardless of our intellectual understanding about death, we always get caught off guard emotionally when a loved one dies. This situation is the most difficult for parents of young children and spouses. Regardless of the type of loss, the majority of us will go through similar stages of grief at some point during our mourning.

Grief can be the garden of compassion. – Rumi

The protected heart that is never exposed to loss, innocent and secure, cannot know tenderness; only the won-back heart can ever be satisfied: free, through all it has given up, to rejoice in its mastery. – Rilke

“Grief,” Rumi wrote, “can be the garden of compassion.” If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.

As we all know only too well, protection from pain doesn’t work, and that when we try to defend ourselves from suffering, we only suffer more and don’t learn what we can from the experience?

Although we all know the certainty of death, we are never prepared to face it and deal with it until it directly impacts us. Everyone deals with grief differently but the journey of overcoming it is a commonalty most of us share.

Allah does not punish a person for shedding tears or feeling pain in his heart. But He does punish, though He may show mercy, because of (what he utters with) this,” and then he pointed to his tongue. (Hadith)

This (weeping) is the mercy that Allah has placed in the hearts of His servants. And surely Allah bestows mercy upon those who are merciful among His servants. (Hadith)

Islam permits a 3 day active mourning period and then we are encouraged to move on. Many recent converts question this rule. How is it possible to move on after 3 days? The 3 day rule can apply for the outward display of mourning but the internal healing will take much longer. Due to shock, many people cannot even process the death until days, weeks, or even months later but it doesn’t mean the window for internal grieving is closed.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, wept on the death of his son, Ibrahim, and said: “The eyes shed tears and the heart feels pain, but we utter only what pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! We are aggrieved at your demise.” He also wept when his grand-daughter, Umaymah, daughter of Zainab, died. At this Sa’ad ibn ‘Ubadah said: “O Messenger of Allah! Are you weeping? Did you not forbid Zainab from weeping?” The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied: “This (weeping) is the mercy that Allah has placed in the hearts of His servants. And surely Allah bestows mercy upon those who are merciful among His servants.” A report is transmitted by At-Tabarani on the authority of Abdullah ibn Zaid to the effect that weeping without wailing is permitted.

“We can’t control grieving. It will control us.”

In order to understand how to move on, we need to understand what we go through during the grief process. Although initially the grief feels overwhelming and seems like it will last forever, time will ease the pain and you will be able to move on.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified the stages of grief many years ago and they continue to be embraced in the Western societies. In her stages, Dr. Kubler-Ross identified 5 stages of grief:

1.) Denial: This first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.

2.) Anger: Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this?” This can specially be true for sudden, unexpected deaths or death as a result of violence or senseless accident. Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love. In the case of a sudden death, the survivors may often experience wild and unfamiliar feelings of anger at what they see as the cause of the death. Help them express that anger, because if it is held inside, sooner or later it will plunge them into a chronic depression. Help them to let go of the anger and uncover the depths of pain that hide behind it. Then they can begin the painful but ultimately healing task of letting go.

3.) Bargaining: Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?”We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what it was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if only’s” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.

4.) Depression: After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.

5.) Acceptance: Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.

It is important to realize that these stages don’t have any particular order and that some people may find themselves back in a stage they thought they had already conquered. This is normal part of grief.

It is important to allow yourself a moment to say goodbye to your loved one, whether it’s simply kissing them goodbye and praying for them upon their death, or creating some kind of moment to say goodbye. For many people, writing a letter to the deceased is a good start. In the letter, express your feelings of loss as well as your feelings of love towards the loved one. This is an important step towards healing.

Don’t allow yourself to get caught up with having to do things within a certain time frame. You’ll know the right time to empty drawers and closets and deal with personal items like wallets and purses. Wait until you are ready.

Preparing for the Future and Understanding Triggers

Your life is changed and changing. The calendar will have a different effect on you as the death anniversary, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Valentines’ Day, special events, and holidays come around. These dates must be dealt with…Plan ahead for them and prepare to feel the sadness and loss. You can come up with a ritual to commemorate the death anniversary. Some families have a khatem of the Quran and invite family and friends over. Others like to remember in their own personal and special way. Acknowledging the anniversary of a death can lead to further healing.

Dealing with the Death of a Spouse

The death of a spouse redefines life in the most profound way possible. In a world of couples, sudden and unwanted singleness can seem isolating and lonely. Learning to be alone — and to enjoy being alone — can be an enormous hurdle for widows and widowers. And learning to reach out again can be the biggest hurdle of all. Dr. Joyce Brothers wrote in her book, Widowed, “And if there should ever be another good man with whom I share my life, there will still be that empty corner of my soul. I know what I had and what I lost. I hope I will not spend the rest of my life alone. But if I do, I will not be sorry for myself. Life goes on, and I am ready to join the parade again.” The U.S. Census states that on the average, widowers will remarry within 3 years of the death of their wives, and widows remarry within 5 years. A recent widow named Marlene said it best: “After the initial loss and grieving, you’re very busy. I was involved with family and different activities and travel. You can distract yourself very easily, so you don’t really reflect on how you want to create meaning in your life”. “I realized I was actually a widow. I’d been so much a wife. My roles were disappearing. I wasn’t a daughter any more. I wasn’t a wife. I was a widow, which was a label I didn’t want. You realize you have to figure out another way of doing things.”


Good Marriages Help Widows and Widowers Avoid Depression
Survival Strategies
Hurting Holidays
Moving On With Your Life
Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers: How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love — by Earl Grollman.
How to Cope After the Death of Your Spouse

Tags: Death, Depression, Grief, Loss


Some Days

Some days i just want to sit and think about you. Some days I just want to cry for you.
I close my eyes and relive every minute I had with you. I feel every emotion I had. I remember your last breath in my arms. I remember being unable to cry anymore and waiting, watching you slip away to a world I have only heard about. You were so beautiful, but you were so sick. My little Ibrahim. I miss you so much. 15 months later and the pain so raw.
Does it ever go away?
Your brother Musa is a blessing. My miracle. Some think his coming into my life means I should forget you. Put away your memories the way i put away the thermometer you used, your name band, the plaster of your footprint. Far away, in a box in a shelf I rarely touch.
But I can’t. I won’t. Why would I erase the best thing that happened to me? The reason I found my Allah again. The reason I found my purpose. You came into my life for a reason and I want to spend the rest of my life remembering you and figuring out why you were only with me for a short time.
Musa looks so much like you. I wonder if you looked the same with your eyes opened. I tell him about you. Sometimes I even ask him if he saw you in heaven.
Ibrahim, I love you and miss you. i just had to say it. Out loud.