When a child dies, we want an answer to the question, “Why?”. We wrestle over and over again with the question all the while knowing we’ll never really get an answer — at least not an answer that makes any sense. Cancer. Car accidents. Choking accidents. Drug overdose. We know “what” happened, but when a child dies we want to know “why”. Why my child? Why now? Why did this have to happen?
The first time I understood that young children can die is when my thirteen-year-old sister died from an asthma attack. It was a warm June evening in New Jersey — that humid, salty, sea air kind of night. She had struggled with asthma from the age of six, but this was the final time Carmella would long to breathe normally. Her young life ended tragically leaving behind a wounded family that never did recover. My parents were never able to put their lives back together again. I truly believe they both died from broken hearts. And I suffered tremendously as a sibling. I was two years older than Carmella. She was my best friend in all the world and in just a mere moment she was gone. Why? Why does child loss have to happen?
Since that first death, I went on to suffer the death of a stillborn baby boy, Samuel, and more recently the death of my adult son, Mike. And, this many years later, I still find myself without any answer to the question “why?”.
I believe in God. I believe in heaven. I believe in an after life. I know that we live in a broken world. I understand all of that, but like any parent who has had a child die, I still wrestle with that age old question of “why?”. Maybe the question should be , “Why now?”. “Why did my child have to die now?” Even so, there still would be no satisfactory answer. At least there would be no answer that would help make me feel any better or any more able to feel some kind of closure.
I’m convinced that we’ll never know the answer to why our child had to die. Maybe when we meet our Maker we’ll understand. Until then we’re left with the daily emptiness of knowing our child is no longer here on this earth. It has been almost seven years now since my most recent loss, and over thirty years since the loss of my baby boy. I can say with confidence that time does bring a measure of healing. Time does smooth out the raw edges of pain. Time gives us space to adjust to the fact that our child is not coming back. But, time does not take away all pain. We will forever and ever have that “empty feeling” deep inside that lets us know every single day that there is one missing — a very special one who should be here.
Maybe it is okay not to be okay. Because, really, we’re never going to be okay about child loss, and that’s okay.
With love, Clara