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Losing a Child in the South Asian Community
Growing up, I never heard of anyone having fertility issues, miscarriages, losing a child nor having stillborn babies. I recall plenty of people inquiring about why a certain person didn’t have a baby yet. It was always a negative thing; a very sad, devastating thing. A type of gossip you heard among the aunties. When I started having my own issues of getting pregnant, I hid it, and I carried a sense of shame, and guilt.
The grief in losing a child in the South Asian Community
It wasn’t until I had children that my mother shared with me that her mother lost two babies. After that, I started hearing that family friends had miscarriages and still births. My heart broke thinking about how these families dealt with the grief on their own, silently.
Grief takes a toll on your body. I understand why so many Indian aunties and uncles are tired and depressed. Even when my son, Isaac, passed away unexpectedly at 5 months old, my parents couldn’t say his name nor acknowledge his birthday. They didn’t want to remind me and it was hard for them too. But I needed his name to be spoken. I needed my kids to know their brother, I needed all us to have a safe place to grieve and continue to celebrate his life rather than the loss of a child.
I needed to know there was no shame in losing my Isaac. That he was and is a life to be celebrated. I want my children to grieve in a healthy way and feel comfortable in sharing their emotions. I want them to continue to remember their brother.
After seven years of Isaac being in heaven, I have learned so much. I have learned grief will always be a part of my life. That I can be happy, and miss Isaac at the same time. No one can tell me how to grieve. I wanted to help others who were hurting. I wanted to give them hope.
In honor of Isaac and all the ones we lost too soon, I wrote a children’s picture book called, Isaac’s Red Balloon which can be found on Amazon. It is a true story of how my children, husband, and I continue to cope with grief. Illustrations were done by a young Indian woman, Aparna Pandey, who I found on Instagram. A portion of the proceeds from the book sale will help families who cannot afford a headstone for their child at the cemetery where my son is. I had to step out of my own fear of what people would say about how public I am about Isaac’s death. Instead, I needed to shift my thinking to all the children and adults I’m giving hope to.
Below is a little bit about the story behind Isaac’s Red Balloon.
When Isaac passed away in 2014, the emotions of grief were overwhelming. I longed to feel a connection with Isaac. I knew I needed to do something to keep my son’s memory alive and to feel close to him. Often, after someone passes away, people stop saying their name. I needed Isaac’s name to be spoken. Even though he died, he was very much alive in our hearts. My other children, Caden, Xavier and Silas were grieving too. I wanted to create a tangible connection that my boys, husband, and I needed in order to help our journey through grief.
In October of 2014, I posted a quote for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month. A dear friend, saw my post and suggested picking a day in October and releasing balloons in honor of Isaac! It was tangible, as if we were sending our balloons to our angel. It helped us feel a connection with him and it was a joyful celebration. From that day forward, October 17th became Isaac’s day. The grief we have will forever be there, but it is changing. Our vision slowly changed from focusing on our pain to focusing on the goodness we have even in our pain. Now we are using our pain to help others. Isaac’s Red Balloon is a true story of how we found hope in our grief. I hope our story can help restore a sense of hope and help you feel close to your special loved ones.
Isaac’s Red Balloon by Asha George on Amazon.
Asha George (her/she)
From Detroit Michigan