Before I plunge headlong into the words I’ve found, I want to mention a word I won’t be talking about here because it doesn’t exist: What am I, now that my only child is dead? I cannot name it. I haven’t been widowed; I’m not an orphan. I’m definitely not childless (more on that another day); my daughter is just as much my daughter now as she was the day before she died.
Try to imagine being something, becoming something, so outside the realm of rightness that no word exists for it. Try to wrap a brain that has spent a lifetime immersed in finding just the right word around the idea that it is now nameless.
Yes, I am a mother and a wife and a daughter and a sister. I am a niece and an aunt and a cousin and a friend. I have a title at work and some funny nicknames known only to a handful of people. But I can tell you all of that and you still won’t have the most important piece of the puzzle: I am a mother whose only child is dead.