This dad's story is bittersweet as he strives to honor the beloved son he lost.
After loss, you can choose to disappear in a vacuum of despair. Which I've done. You can also choose to honor your child each and every day of your life. Which I also do, in ways big and small.
That is why I was so touched by the story of Australian dad Troy Austin, who recently ran a marathon with an empty stroller to honor his son, who was stillborn at 27 weeks.
At first, the message behind the stroller, a photo of which he posted to Facebook, was misunderstood by spectators and participants at the Sunshine Coast Marathon. From start to finish, people asked and even joked if Austin had lost his child. "Yes that's the point," he finally replied. Other times, the heartbroken dad smiled and or just moved on when folks asked him about why his stroller was empty.
As a fellow loss parent, I also find it difficult to know what to say when people ask me things like, "Did you have your baby yet?" Sometimes I just pretend I didn't hear them, and go home and cry. Thankfully I have a good support team in my husband, kids, friends and family, as Austin does.
He said a friend kept him in good spirits throughout the race, although, understandably, he had a tough time keeping it together.
I completely relate to how honoring his son, named T.G., is a way Austin is finding meaning in the loss. He says he strives "daily to create a legacy" his boy would be proud of. That includes the Everyday Hero campaign he and his wife Kelly launched in T.G.'s memory, which seeks to raise awareness of, and stop the stigma surrounding stillbirth.
On the campaign's site it says, "Six families a day face the horrific outcome of stillbirth and of not being able to love and create a lifetime of memories with their child. The pain of not being able to do so stays with them forever." Their hope is that in addition to raising awareness, their campaign will help to connect families who have experienced the life-altering loss they did. And of course, they want to continue to honor their beloved son, T.G.
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Indeed, all babies who will not join our families in the way we envisioned deserve to be honored, and loved, forever.