Surviving the Unimaginable

Erin with her son Sam.

For months, our lives morphed into a medical nightmare: daily sedation, blood transfusions, infections, side effects, DNRs, and feeding tubes.

All photos provided by Erin Benson.

Losing Sam was the hardest thing and grieving him is deeply personal. There are no numbered steps to follow, no discernable paths forward or through the pain, no programs or services that work for everyone. I humbly offer two pieces of advice to anyone managing tremendous loss.

The most painful and destructive feeling I experienced after Sam died was self-blame.

When I took the time to recognize, name, and most importantly, not judge the emotions surrounding my grief, I felt the burning subside into something that felt more manageable — a smolder rather than a blaze.

Surviving the unimaginable continues to be the most profound and painful thing I have endured. Making space for all the emotions that accompany grief and seeking and accepting help allowed me to survive the unthinkable.

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