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Syria's Suffering Families

I’m Going Out Of My Mind’: The Mother Coping With Terrible Loss

Hoda, 30, sits with her children, Nourhan, Saga, and Abdul Rahman, in the tent where the family lives on the outskirts of the Turkish border city of Killis. Ivor Prickett / Panos for NBC News

In a makeshift tent by the side of the road on the outskirts of Kilis, a Turkish town on the border with Syria, Hoda washes her children's clothes. She cooks them food in the dust. She tries to keep going. But the tears are never fully at bay.

A year ago, Hoda and her husband, Mohammed, fled from Azaz in Northern Syria. For 10 days they slept in a park in the town's center. They then moved here and pitched a tent. They were determined to keep their children -- Norhan, 8, Saga, 6, and Abdul Rahman, 3 – safe. And when we met them at the beginning of April they had a new child to protect, Hassan, who was born in mid-March two months premature.

"The first time I saw him I started crying because I didn't think he could live due to his small size," Hoda says. "He was normal, although he was tiny. The doctors told me he had to stay at the hospital until he was better. It would be better for the baby instead of being with us in a tent.

"I used to dream about him every night. I used to dream about holding him," she says.

‘I just held him’: Sadness Haunts Mother After Losing Son 0:58

He did eventually come home, but it was after a tragedy: Hassan had died at just 41 days old. The first Hoda knew that she had lost her son was when Mohammed arrived with their child's lifeless body.

Hoda briefly held Hassan . That fleeting moment was the first time she'd given the child a hug. He died 25 days ago, she says. She counts every day since she lost the newborn.

"I only had the chance to hold him after he died," she says. "I didn't care that he wasn't alive. I just held him." The child was buried in a makeshift grave by an intersection. Her husband has not told her how the baby died, or allowed her to visit the grave.

"He says that he's worried about me, considering what I've been through", Hoda says. "I'm going out of my mind."

‘All That Matters’: Grief-Stricken Mother Finds Solace 0:42

In this brutal, side-of-the-road existence there is little space for feeling or sentiment: this family must survive. Hoda is worried about Abdul, who has a problem with one eye that seems to be getting worse. Her parents, who for now are nearby, may be evicted from the dilapidated two room house they share with five others – children and grandchildren. The landlord wants them out before Ramadan starts in six weeks.

"It's been a very difficult time for me," Hoda says. "I'm happy that you are here for me to talk to and share what happened. I don't have anyone to cry to. I see Hassan in my sleep. I dream about him."

Aziz Akyavas contributed to this report.