Kara Keough Bosworth has a message for parents who have also lost a child.
In a lengthy letter addressed to her "fellow loss mom" published by Good Morning America on Wednesday, the 31-year-old actress — who is the daughter of Real Housewives of Orange County star Jeana Keough — opened up about the death of her days-old son McCoy Casey, sharing that while grieving mothers like herself "do die a little bit the day we lose a child," the "new us can be better."
"I wish there was something else I could call you, something else I could call myself. 'Angel Mom' feels too fluffy, and 'Bereaved Mother' sounds like we should be wearing black lace and howling on our knees in a stone church somewhere," she began in the letter which was in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. "Don't get me wrong, we're absolutely still howling. But we're doing it in yoga pants. Lululemons just do a better job of hiding our postpartum bellies and helping us avoid questions like, "When are you due?" or worse, 'How's the baby?!' "
"The fact that the rest of the world keeps spinning the day after ours stops feels like a personal attack," she continued. "We should be labeled with a sticker that reads 'FRAGILE: Handle with care,' because we're one trigger away from racing back to that worst moment."
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You would have been 3 weeks old today. You would be “waking up” and showing us more of you. I would be getting the hang of being a mom of two. My milk would be regulating to your schedule. Your sister would be asking questions about your belly button and you would have peed on her at least once by now. Daddy would be sending texts to his football buddies about how our giant baby boy could probably already out-lift them. We would be laughing that you never fit into newborn diapers, not even for one day. I’d be exhausted, leaking, and happy. Instead… we’re missing you. To all my fellow “instead” mamas…. thank you for reminding me that we’re not alone, and that we can survive this. He didn’t, but we have to. And we will.
"The space where our babies should be somehow starts feeling less like a gaping hole and more like an invisible fullness as time goes on. We want to hear their names, we want to think about them and smile, we want to see them in the world around us. Milestones hit us like bricks and time feels jumbled," she wrote.
However, Keough Bosworth — who shares 4-year-old Decker Kate with husband Kyle Bosworth —noted that there's some solace in sharing about the loss.
"Every day, every minute, another mother joins us in this club. It's a club no one wants to be a part of, but the love and compassion within it are unlike any other," she penned. "The instant bond that ignites between two women when we sit together in this pain is almost spiritual. Sorrow like this, grief like ours, carves profound depth into our souls. We're no longer flat, shiny objects, but we're instead embossed by our loss. Somehow more beautiful for it."
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At four months old, we’d be seeing the Real McCoy by now, the face we could look back on later and say “Oh, see, right here, that’s when he starts looking like Mack.” Instead, every bulky blonde boy I see is you. That’s just one of the million cuts of losing you so soon, I’m forced to imagine the faces of your stolen future. Your first gummy smile is a mystery. The sound of your voice, like the roar of the ocean in a seashell: it’s just in my head and only if I listen really closely. The paler folds of your sun-kissed and chubby wrists stay tucked away and hidden. The curls bouncing on your two year old head, cut short. The shape of your legs, crushingly resistant to the metamorphosis that would take you from baby-to-boyhood right before my eyes. It’s all a blur now, all the ways you could have been you. You in your wedding day suit, dancing with me to a song we picked together… that’s all just a dream. And that’s what you’re starting to feel like now – a dream. Did this really happen? Did we ever really have you at all? The answer is a resounding yes, of course. And we always will. I notice that your name is our new “Hallelujah!” Every time the world gives us something beautiful, we shout your name. A butterfly floating in our periphery, “McCoy!” Rows of lavender in unexpected places, McCoy! A rainbow over our house, McCoy! A pod of dolphins on the horizon, McCoy! A warm breeze, McCoy! Lillian’s last round of chemo treatments, McCoy! A pregnant friend, McCoy! And (so slowly) finding our joy among our pain – McCoy! We see you, baby. We love the way you’re showing up for us and opening our eyes to the beauty all around us. We’ll be seeing you again some day, McCoy(!).
Saying that "grief can be an incredible gift," Keough Bosworth explained, "You never know how many people love you until you experience a loss like this."
"Most people don't get the pleasure of realizing how treasured they are until their dying day. And in a way, we do die a little bit the day we lose a child; the old us is gone. But the new us can be better," she wrote.
"The new us can leave pettiness where it belongs. The new us can see beauty where others might pass it by. The new us can love again, despite knowing the risk. That kind of bravery didn't exist in us before. But alas, here we are. Never moving on but moving with."
"Yes, being a mother with empty arms becomes a strange juxtaposition. More joyful despite suffering, more alive despite death and more loving despite loss," she added. "We ask ourselves, 'Where are we supposed to put all this love, all this love that we had reserved for them?' The answer becomes so clear: all around us, of course, and into them, still. Most importantly — and with no hesitations — we must put the love back into ourselves once again."
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Six months ago, I laid my eyes on you for the first time. I turned your big body around then looked at Daddy with a mixture of shock and pride and said, “It’s a boy.” Three hours later, I limped into the NICU to start what would be my first and last days of kissing you. Somehow, I kissed you a lifetime’s worth of kisses in six days. All without one kiss back. I still think about what it felt like to kiss you, and that I never got kissed back. It all still makes my throat ache like I’m being choked. I hate that the thought of kissing you creates this painful and involuntary spasm. I’d much rather be thinking of that involuntary happiness spasm that would overtake your body as a 6-month-old. Oh what I’d do to see those little joyful jolts, with your chubby arms air-pumping and flapping while your legs do that spring-loaded kick combo. Would we be dropping a nap, hearing you laugh, starting solids? Would all my shirts have drool pools on them? Would nursing you prove to be more of an Olympic effort around this time? And just where am I supposed to put all this love? This love that I reserved just for you? I still put it in you, of course. The love doesn’t leave just because you did. It’s a hard lesson to learn. I was feeling my love for you spilling out of me, in the form of tears, guttural sobs, and that worthless guilt. But there are better ways to feel my love for you. Missing you something terrible doesn’t have to be the only way to miss you. I want to miss you wonderfully. As in, full of wonder. Recently, your Daddy held me as he told me: “Each day, when you feel that strong breeze, or the sun hits your face, or you hear our daughter laugh… that’s our son loving his mama.” I considered the beauty in my life and how, like your Daddy said, each one of those little happy winks are you loving me. It’s you kissing me back. And that made my throat soften, and my heart open. And that, my boy, is the gift you’ve given me. A heart broken wide open is still an open heart. We love you, McCoy. And we miss you something wonderful.
The former Bravo star's letter comes six months following the loss of her son McCoy, who died after having experienced "shoulder dystocia and a compressed umbilical cord" during his birth.
On April 14, Keough Bosworth announced to her followers that McCoy had died and "joined our Heavenly Father and will live forever in the hearts of his loving parents, his adoring sister, and those that received his life-saving gifts."
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