Empty Arms and the Sound of Silence

It’s been one week since our dear Theodore became one of Heaven’s most beautiful angels. One week since I’ve held my sweet little boy in my arms.

I knew this day was coming but no amount of foresight could have prepared me for the all-encompassing ache that has enveloped every layer of my life this last week. The physical effects of grief have left me feeling empty and yet simultaneously heavy and listless. As much as I try to remind myself that my sweet Theo is in a better place, with every breath I take, I yearn for my son. I yearn to hold him in my arms again.

Our house is silent and I ache for the many sounds of Theodore, even if they were atypical. The gentle hum of the oxygen concentrator, the irregular beeping of the oximeter (measuring Theo’s changing pulse and oxygen saturations), the priming of his feeding pump, his stridor breathing, the revolving door of visiting nurses, doctors and CCAC staff members, the many calls from the pharmacy and supply companies. The silence is a resounding, painful reminder of his absence.

We have gone from a family of three, parents of a toddler, to just the two of us. And it feels like we’re starting over. I recognize how blessed we are that Theo’s little brother or sister is on the way (and we of course look forward to their arrival) but this does not in any way ease our grief. We were also desperately hoping that Theo would have had the chance to meet them.

I have been told by parents who have lost children that the grieving will never end but it will soften and one day it will not be all consuming. I have also been told, and seen, that happiness is possible again. My faith in this assurance has provided me with the courage to face each new day.

I’ve decided to keep writing for two reasons: first, I believe that writing will assist me in my grieving process and just as I had hoped that my blog might have provided comfort and inspiration to parents faced with the difficult journey of raising a palliative child, I hope that my writing may now be helpful to parents who have suffered from child loss (though I wish with all my heart that these types of parents didn’t exist).

And second, because I believe that Theodore’s story doesn’t end. It lives on not only for our family but for all those who were impacted and inspired by my little warrior.


  1. While I’ve never experienced the loss of my own child, I did lose a granddaughter at two weeks of age. It was devastating and she will never b forgotten. Theo will live on in the hearts of many, and he too will never b forgotten. Time does not heal all wounds but the pain does lessen and u will find joy again.

  2. Again Ashley, thank you for your gift of words. Although I only met Theo briefly at his benefit, he has changed my world to. My heart breaks for your loss and I pray that the each day makes you stronger. He will never be forgotten and he will always be loved by many. Your little warrior will live on through your beautiful words.

  3. Ashley, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey. You are such an inspiration to every parent in this world. Theo was very blessed to have such amazing parents and family and friends
    who loved him to the moon and back.

  4. When I first heard Theo passed away the first thought I had was how quiet your life will seem. Don’t avoid the silence, absorb it, grieve now so in time each day you will feel stronger. The beautiful life inside you will keep you going, give you a purpose until you can find it on your own. So glad you will keep writing, I will keep reading. Xo

  5. Once again your beautiful gift of words has brought me to tears. You are inspirational and how lucky not only that you had Theo, but he had you. ❤

  6. Ashley….you will be happy again….you will never forget Theo but you will be happy….there will be days that you will wonder what he would be doing if he had lived. I have been through this grief with my daughters…both were stillborn and it was a devastating time for both my husband and me but we have learned that all things happen for a reason.

    There is a book “Roses in December” by Marilyn Heaverly that has been a huge help in dealing with the loss of a child and it is faith based, not one of the clinical types…I’ve read it several times and have given it to friends who are facing this grief…

    May you find peace and happiness once again

  7. I love reading your weekly writings! With the distance of provinces helps to feel closer. I wish I could be there for you at this part of your life. Im sorry I’m not able. Please know Ashlee that I think of Mark, you and Theo everyday. I pray that God gives you the strength to live each day and the pain of losing Theo subsides. Love you Ashlee xxoo

  8. Your depth of feeling is amazing as you share your journey. I cannot fathom the loss of a child but I did lose my husband when I was very young and all I can offer is that each day brings you closer to a time when you can look at Theos pictures and things and feel a strange sort of peace. It is not describable not even something you will be aware of until one day you will pick something up and the searing pain you feel now will be replaced with a gentle memory . Your grief never really ends but it becomes a tolerance and a need to share wonderful memories. Speak of Theo often and laugh at the wonderful memories before his illness while tucking the memory of his pain into the heart that only a parent has and save them. Remember your faith and allow God to share your little man and restore him. And remember as the months and years go by that none of us will forget Theo even if over time we disappear from your life. Some have entered your life for a reason and some for a season and some forever. As you both enter the next phase of your personal journey we pray for you and your baby as you begin the journey of parenthood once more.

  9. Sweet Mother Ashley,
    You put into words an ache that has hidden in my heart for years, though I was never able to even meet my baby boy. I was clearly pregnant and into the 11th week when I miscarried. I had seen our sweet Augen in a dream and knew his face, his smile and his eyes. And it still haunts me some nights when I dream of us ALL TOGETHER as a FULL family in Heaven one day.

    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for writing. Thank you for opening your grief up for others to see, feel and participate. Thank you for your honestly.

    My family is keeping your family in prayer and you are never far from my heart as a mother. I am so, so sorry for your loss. You are right, it lessens one day… the pain… but it doesn’t ever leave. It’s been 12 years for me. ❤

  10. Thank you Ashley for continuing to write…
    I have thought about both you and Mark many times…usually with tears……and have wondered how you are coping.
    Your writings convey your emotions–.emotions of hope and sadness Although many people have experienced some degree of these same emotions, there are very few that can express them in writing like you do.
    We continue to keep you and Mark in our prayers……I hope you can feel the great warm loving embrace that we, and so many others’, are sending your way.
    We all love you….xoxo

  11. Thank you for continuing to write. Your journey has remained so close to my heart and I think of little Theo every day.
    Never having met you or your little one, I cried for days when I heard the news of his passing and I so badly wanted to take that pain away from you and Mark.
    But, as may have said here, the grieving may never go away, but it will soften and I so greatly hope you will find joy again. It is saddening that little Theo couldn’t meet his brother or sister, but it is such a blessing for you and Mark.
    You are always in my thoughts and prayers and if I could select just one (because there are many) profound way Theo’s story has touched my family, it’s the reminder that the every day stress of being a parent needs to be brushed off to allow more room for the utter beauty and gift that parenting truly is.
    Now, every day I see my daughter I am reminded of how extremely lucky I am.

    I wish this and more for you as your little one arrives to meet their amazing, loving parents:)

    All the best,
    Magy, Martin and Eden

  12. God bless you Ashlee and Mark. Theo was lucky to have such loving and devoted parents. I admire the fact that you took him places! Please keep writing, your words are articulated so well and I believe the story continues. I look forward to them every week! We all look forward to the new chapter with the addition to your family! 🙂

  13. I, like many, have been following your journey from the beginning and I have smiled, cried, and prayed throughout it all. It has been a rollercoaster ride for me…an outsider…a stranger…and I can’t imagine how it must have felt to live it and to continue living it. While sharing your story, little Theo was able to inspire countless others to fight through adversity, parents to hug their children tighter…longer, and everyone to realize that tomorrow is not a promise. I hope you are able to find some comfort in knowing that there are so many people thinking of you and your family, praying for you, and sending positive thoughts. I continue to pray for sweet Theo and ask God to let you feel Theo’s love and presence. I wish you all the best with the newest addition to your family (perhaps s/he is already here!!). This baby is so lucky to have been given such amazing, loving, and strong parents.

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