What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Heather Blaire.

What I want you to know is that you never get over losing a child. The pain never goes away. And you are never the same person again.

I lost my sweet, funny, one of a kind 14 year old son on November 29, 2008. There’s no real answer as to why a healthy, active, athletic boy would leave for a bike ride behind his house and never return. How a viral infection can just suddenly attack that seemingly healthy airway and take his precious life.

But I want you to know, it doesn’t make a difference how he died. He’s just gone. And I still hurt. My heart still aches for my son. I still cry, sometimes for no reason at all. I still scream at the sky, willing him back to me. I still wish he was here.

I want you to know there’s nothing you can really do or say to someone who has lost a child. Everyone grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way. We each handle tragedy and loss in a different way. So there’s no cookie cutter answer for how to help.

But I want you to know you should try. The ones who did nothing are sharp stings I still feel today. The ones who silently slipped away and now avoid me, perhaps because their kids are still healthy and they feel guilty, or they don’t know how to act, or who knows, but they just left. Those are the ones that added to my already broken heart. 

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I want you to know that even though I cried while staring at the caller ID and chose not to answer, I still know you tried. For the card in the mail on the day nothing else came and it was an emotional breakdown at the mailbox because I remembered how he used to run to check it. For that day, it helped a little. And for the prayers, oh the many prayers, yes I coveted them – and still do. Some days, they were the only thing that kept me going.

But I want you to know, if you’re facing this unspeakable loss, you can survive this. There are better days. No, the pain never ends, but you learn to breathe through it. Like a cracked windshield, you can still see, there will just always be a reminder of the precious child taken from this world too soon.

I want you to know there is hope. You will laugh again. And the first time you do it, you will cry because you feel guilty. But you will laugh again. Life will get somewhat easier, but not before it gets harder. Child loss is a rollercoaster and just when you think you’ve reached the top of the mountain, a low blow to the belly is around the corner. You just have to keep on, keeping on. You have to fight. You have to choose it.

I want you to know you deserve happiness. Your child would want you to live again, love again, to find joy again. And you can. Just breathe and take it day by day.