By Chandrama Anderson
My Daughter Died 18 Years AgoUploaded: Sep 29, 2016
My daughter had Trisomy 13, a fatal chromosome disorder. Down Syndrome is Trisomy 21. The lower the number, the more serious it is.
Her death, among a series of miscarriages and other family members and friends deaths (mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandfather, grandmother, and mother) led me to change my career from being a senior director of business development in a wireless startup to becoming a therapist. I’d spent 15 years in high-tech, spoke at conferences, worked at Apple, and Stanford.
After my daughter died, I needed to do work of the heart.
The anniversaries of her death have been different from year to year for me. This year was especially difficult – maybe because of the 18 years. If she had been a healthy baby, she would have turned 18. Lots of “ifs” have gone through my mind over the years.
This year I decided I would let myself think and remember everything. There were times I hated my body for being unable to have a healthy baby, or to maintain a pregnancy. By late afternoon, I was feeling traumatized again. I realized that I had been thinking about only the negative things.
I then was able to remember positive things: how excited I was to be pregnant with her, how much I love her, how much I felt her presence (which I hadn’t felt when I had miscarriages), the dreams I had of her after she died that were so comforting to me. I was still sad, and yet remembering those loving aspects helped me so much.
She changed my life, even though she was only here a short time.
I may not have become a therapist if it weren’t for her. I specialize in grief counseling and couple counseling. I blend those to work with couples who have had a child die.
It took a long time for me to be happy again, but I did eventually get there. My focus was on my family, and taking care of them, despite my own pain. It took a toll, though.
My son is a wonderful young man (as you know if you’ve been reading Couple’s Net for a while). I wish he could have had his sister to grow up with (another “if only”). He would ask me about her, usually when we were in the car; it was always a shock, and I would have to be extra careful driving. I would answer him truthfully and age appropriately.
Death isn’t something you get over. It’s something you integrate into your life. I still love Callie and I always will. A part of me will always miss her, and wonder what she would’ve been like.
And it’s okay for me to go on with life, to grow, to live, to love, to help others.