Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. I’m cleaning files at my office, and tossing out files from fifteen years ago. It was getting late, and I was grabbing one more pile of papers to toss into the garbage, when I stopped — frozen. I looked. I stared. As I began to read the words my tears began. Tears poured from my eyes. I began to choke on my sobs.
There it was. My son’s obituary from a year ago. It caught me so off guard. I was throwing away old files. How did Mike’s obituary get mixed in with these files? I wasn’t expecting to see his picture. I wasn’t expecting to read those words that made his death so real.
I cried. I cried hard. I cried long. And, I cried some more.
I’ve read thousands of obituaries in my lifetime, but this was my son. I read every word over and over again clinging to each word with hope that what I was reading wasn’t really true. Of course I understood what had happened. But, sometimes we wish so hard that our child’s death was just a very bad dream.
Isn’t it amazing how things can appear to us when we least expect them? Shortly after Mike died his baseball glove appeared in the mudroom when I was sorting through some things. I didn’t even know I had his baseball glove from so many years ago, yet there it was with his name scrawled across it in his unique printing. I slept with that glove under my pillow for weeks after finding it. I wanted to cling to something that was part of him.
I needed to have something that was part of Mike next to me. The smell. The feel. The memories. I needed my son, and this was all I had left.
Child loss is not easy. Nothing about it is okay. Well-meaning friends tell us things like, “At least he’s in a much better place now.” Or, “thank God he didn’t have to suffer. At least he died quick.” Or, “Be thankful you have so many fun memories of times with him. These memories will help you.”
Those of us who have lost a child know these things are meant to help, but in reality not a whole lot helps when your child is gone. As hard as we try, we can’t come up with a reason that makes sense about the loss of our child. Not one reason.
Life eventually gets back to some kind of routine, but there is always that nagging ache within us letting us know that a piece of us is missing. And, sometimes that ache becomes severe such as when I found Mike’s obituary or his baseball glove. Those are the moments that bring us to our knees asking, “Why? Why did my child have to die?”
We know there is never going to be an answer to the question “why?” but in our humanness we will continue to ask until the day we die.
If you have lost a child, then I know you can relate to moments such as I experienced. I know that these “triggers” have caused you to cry rivers of tears, too.
What can we do? Is there anything that will help? For a bit of hope, I urge you to get a copy of Child Loss: The Heartbreak and the Hope. In this book written from the depths of my heart, I share with you some things that are helping me. I want you to have the same kind of help, too. Sometimes it helps just to hear what another parent is experiencing so that you know your grief is normal and not “crazy” as some would tell us.
My love to each and every parent, grandparent, and sibling of child loss. As we travel this journey together, it is my prayer that we will learn how to live within this brokenness called child loss.