Before my child died, I didn’t think about logistics. I didn’t think about the impossible choices that my husband and I had to make within a few hours and with zero precedent, guidance, or understanding of long-term impact. Will we cremate or bury? Do we want to hold her? If so, for how long? She’ll start to decay the longer we hold. Do we want a funeral? Do we want family to see her? Hold her? Do we want the chaplain present? Do we want pictures? An autopsy? There were so many possibilities, it’s impossible not to look back and feel that we made a wrong decision that day.
On top of the choices we had to make for her, we had another child with a 5% chance of survival who needed to be whisked to the NICU as we waited to hear if she lived or died. There are decisions that we made surrounding her death that we will forever regret, but we are now able to understand that we made those choices in the most dire of circumstances- we did what we needed to in order to survive.
We have pictures of her that we, admittedly, initially didn’t want. They are now our most prized possessions and among a small box of things that are all that remain of her. To hear of the recent vitriol spewed at the parents of a dead child for sharing pictures was infuriating and hurtful.
When we, bereaved parents, share with you a picture of our child, we are sharing a piece of our soul. It is your privilege to see these pictures, and more so your privilege to pass judgement on our choices when you have never walked in our shoes. Whether we are famous with millions of followers or a neighbor down the street, these photos are all we have left. Until you have faced these decisions on the absolute worst day of your life, please reserve your judgement.