Matt's Thoughts On Loss

August 3, 2020
Grayson Stone
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Two members of the Charlotte media have lost children recently. 

WSOC TV anchor, Allison Latos, lost her newborn baby girl, Hannah Joy, in May. 

July 29th, Ace from The Ace and TJ Show lost his 21-year-old daughter, Payton.

My heart hurts for them. My wife and I lost our baby girl, Grayson, at 35 weeks in 2008.

People have asked me to share what I would tell them about getting through the death of a child. It seems like there is what my wife and I call a, “hierarchy of death.” Couples that lose a 9-week-old baby couldn’t imagine losing 21-week-old twins; while the parents of the 21-week-old twins couldn’t imagine losing a full-term baby at birth. We couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose a 5-year-old or 21-year-old child. What we learned is that it is all pain, all unimaginable grief. 

I have no good advice or answers. I can only share that my wife and I made it through together with the huge help of family, friends and strangers. Plus, I learned that my wife, Amy, is a tough lady.

I’ve only met Ace and TJ a handful of times. All my encounters were cool, and we laughed a lot. When Grayson died they sent us a condolence card. There are only a half dozen radio shows in Charlotte that have been together for 15 years or more, so there is a respect and kind of a weird, “we are in the same club,” relationship.

It saddens me that Ace and Allison are in a new, horrible “club.” The one with members only of parents who have lost children. 

This is a note to Allison, Ace and whomever has lost a child.

You don’t realize how many, or who are members of the “club,” but many of them will reach out now. If you can, reach back to them. Don’t be afraid to talk to them (that definitely includes me). Feel free to vent to them, ask questions, scream at them, or cry to them. People in this “club” WANT to be there for you, like others were there for them. We may not have any wise words or clichés to toss your way, but we listen really well without judgment, and may at least give you a nugget of wisdom that may help you arrive to sunnier days. We may be the only people who truly have felt something like you are feeling. On the other hand, don’t feel any obligation to talk to anyone you don’t want to. There is no playbook for this crap. Just wake up, try to get through the haze of the day as best you can and know it’s another day closer to healing. 

I can give you a quick walk through of our journey, and how it got better. 

First, I was devastated beyond words. Helping my wife and 3-year-old daughter get through this pain got me through to the next day. We went to lots of meetings at Kindermourn, where others had lost children and the people in that group were our tribe. Then, I had the fear of seeing friends and coworkers for the first time; that I was going to break down every time someone mentioned my loss. Afterwards, though, I really appreciated the acknowledgment. 

Then there was this stage where everyone around me started acting “normal” as if they didn’t care that I had lost a baby. I would, at times, think, “What the hell is wrong with these people? How dare they carry on like I should be over it. Good God, aren’t they thinking about me anymore?” Of course, that is a load of self-important, self-serving, B.S.. Did I really expect them to be, or want them to be, sad around me forever? But, it’s natural. Life goes on for everyone else, but you feel lost, like you might feel like this forever. 

So, you tuck that one away, and months later move onto… “Why am I suddenly bawling my eyes out?” I wasn’t even thinking about her. Well, yeah I was. It’s a little thing called PTSD.

It blows and it hits you out of nowhere and while this happens less and less often, it still does come out of nowhere. 

At some point, I began to lie down at night and realize that neither my wife nor I hadn’t cried that day, and I even muttered, “Now that was a pretty good day.”  

That day turned into weeks and then months. Good days started to outweigh bad days.

The healing process is different for everyone and grief just sucks. There are healthy ways to get through it and some not so healthy. We did a little of both; we did what we needed when we needed to survive until the next day. The days WILL get better! Until then, know that we and all the people in this “club” are here for you.