Every parent suffers through the loss of a child in his or her own way. But, there is one thing that is uniformly the same for all. The pain.
The pain of losing a child is intense. And, the pain is ongoing. I am convinced after losing two sons, that the grief of child loss never goes away. There will never be true closure — not in the sense that some people think.
We do ourselves a great disservice by thinking that one day we’ll wake up and everything will feel A-okay. That’s not how it works. When a child dies, everything in our world as we once knew it becomes torn apart and feels like nothing makes any sense. A parent is never expecting their child to die — ever! And, from this point on, every parent will have the daunting task of trying to find their way back to life while dealing with the brokenness of such loss.
Does time heal? Again, I’ll speak from experience. Time in and of itself does not heal, but time certainly does help! It has been thirty-one years since the death of my first son, and five years since the death of my second son. I feel a lot more pain from the most recent death – not because this child meant more to me, but because the grief is still so raw. So, in that respect, time does help. But, heal? No. I’m not sure that we ever fully recover (or heal) from the death of a child.
Will life ever have meaning again? Yes, absolutely! Life is a precious gift and not to be taken lightly. For a while following the death of a child, many of us feel like we can’t bear the thought of living without our child. That’s “raw grief” wreaking havoc within us. Everything cuts and hurts and feels like we’ve had our heart sliced in two! Thankfully, that doesn’t last forever. In my case, it took a few years for the raw grief to begin to settle. As the grief was becoming less raw, I was beginning to see some hope in living again.
These changes don’t occur overnight. It takes time and hard work to begin to see the light of day again following the death of a child. That being said, life will never be the same again. BUT, that doesn’t mean that you can’t feel joy again.
Joy comes to those who fill their lives with hope!
I believe that with all of my heart. I also believe that every child that died would want his or her parents to feel joy again. As parents, we often feel as though we are betraying our child if we smile or laugh or begin to enjoy life again. That’s far, far removed from the truth!
I urge you to take time to silence the voice within that says you will forever be living in a dark, confined room of grief. While it’s true that we will forever and ever grieve the loss of our child, we can (and must) begin to feel joy in life again. God has surrounded us with beauty and love. The warm sunshine. The refreshing rain. The twinkling stars on a dark night. The softness of a kitten. The fluttering of a butterfly. The awesome hope in the dawning of a new day! All are gifts of hope for us to enjoy.
Please, please be assured that you will begin to see hope in life again. Pause. Breathe. Pause again and look around you. Remind yourself often that your child would want you to feel joy again. Also, remind yourself that one of the best ways you can honor your child is to celebrate the miracle of that child’s life!
With love and hope,
PS I truly welcome your thoughts.