I woke up in a daze, the stark grey walls of the hospital room becoming clearer as I blinked. Bruises lined my arms where several IVs were hooked to machines. A nose canula was attached to my face, pumping my weak body with oxygen. I was in the ICU, and I was lucky to be alive.

After delivering my triplets more than 17 weeks premature, my body went into septic shock. Quick thinking by doctors and nurses saved my life and I found myself spending my first days as a new mom in the intensive care unit of the hospital. Just hours before, my husband and I held our first-born child as she passed away in our arms. Abigail’s lungs were just too weak, her body too premature to survive.

Life changed in an instant; the dreams of a picture-perfect family were shattered. One of our children had died, and two others were fighting for their lives in the NICU.

A few days after our triplets were born, we heard a quiet knock at my hospital room door. A nurse walked in, a concerned look sweeping her face as she approached my bedside.

“Have you discussed plans for Baby A,” she asked. “She is downstairs in the hospital morgue.”

It was at that moment the shock began to wear off. As the tears turned into sobs, my husband cradled my weak body. Reality suddenly sank in. We would never take Abigail home.

As new parents, we felt helpless. We were supposed to be planning our nursery and picking out baby clothes, not making funeral arrangements for the child we had prayed and longed for. In the coming days, we found ourselves going through the motions, our bodies physically present, but our hearts and minds far off in the distance. Pamphlets for funeral homes were dropped by our room, phone calls to transport our baby girl were made. A rabbi visited us to offer condolences.

One week after our babies were born, I was released from the hospital. The heartache and grief set in as we drove away without any of our triplets. Two children were being cared for in the NICU, one child was waiting to be buried.

Instead of driving to our house, we pulled into the funeral home. As we waited for the staff, I found myself wandering the room, the same room where countless families picked out urns or caskets, a place where grief filled the air.

I sat there numb, feeling like this couldn’t be reality. A parent isn’t supposed to outlive their child. In the coming minutes and hours, so many decisions were made. We poured through binders of urn pictures, looking for a simple resting place for our baby girl. We filled out paperwork and made final arrangements before being whisked into a private room to identify our baby girl and say our final goodbye.

Two months later, my husband and I found ourselves in the very same room at the funeral home. This time, we were making arrangements for our son, Parker, who passed away in the NICU after 55 days of life. Within two months, two of our children had died.

It’s been more than nine years since our lives changed forever. And as I look back at those surreal moments in the funeral home, I’m grateful to see that times have changed. Nearly a decade ago, child loss was not talked about. I didn’t know anyone who had experienced a loss like ours. The simple mention of the death of our children made other people cringe, even though I longed to talk about Abby and Parker, wanting to keep their memory alive.

So, What Resources Are Available?

These days, there are so many resources for bereaved parents. And for those who are thrust into the unimaginable task of planning a funeral for a child, there is help, thanks to a consumer initiative by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA).

Remembering A Life is an online guide to honoring a life well-lived and includes resources on everything from advanced planning to grieving a loved one. For situations like my own, it not only helps parents through the difficult tasks that come with child loss, but it also offers specials ways to honor your child, as well as support for managing grief.

The website even offers guidance with step-by-step instructions to help you get through the most difficult days. From finding a funeral home, to writing an obituary, to talking to your living children about loss, NFDA and Remembering A Life have truly thought of everything to help a grieving family.

And for those friends and family who are looking for ways to help, the organization offers the Remembering A Life Self-Care Box. The box is thoughtfully filled with things to help a parent relax, reflect and remember. Each item serves a purpose, like a journal to write down your thoughts, and a sentimental jar to keep notes of memories within.

The loss of a child is unfathomable, the heartache and grief consume those early days, and months and even years. Because truth be told, you never get over the loss of a child. The grief changes as you find ways to move forward in life. And as I have found years later, with the right help and navigation, you eventually figure out that grief and happiness can coexist.