Dear Grieving Parents
This page was originally posted on my blog on February 1, 2009.
You’ve arrived here for a reason. You’ve probably lost a child in recent history, or even, in the distant past. It doesn’t matter when you lost your child, your children…it only matters that we’re all in this thing together. This blog is not the answer. This blog is not a cure. This blog is nothing more than a venue, a place to share this amazingly deep loss, this thing we could have never anticipated, but this thing we have in common. All of us have lost one of our children, and in some instances, we’ve lost more than one – as unthinkable as that is, to lose a child (we rehearse it and pray it won’t visit our households), none of us can imagine losing more.
If you’re an English professor, you will find this place a place of solace – for you will be able to correct my grammar, my punctuation, my syntax, and forget…for just a moment, that your son or daughter is still missing, or found dead. My son’s body was found four days after he went missing, floating in a river, dead from an “undetermined cause” and we will never be the same. Your story may be similar.
Your child may have been found in a ravine, a car, the woods, a friend’s bedroom, your garage, or in some other place that would seem innocent on any other day. But, that did not come to pass. Your child may have died from an illness, long-term or sudden, and you’re here with us, wondering why him? why her? why us? And, you are searching in the day or night for answers that may never come to pass in this lifetime. I can only offer this: welcome.
We’re here together. We’re searching together. We’re experiencing our losses privately, but our family and friends experience the loss of our children as they will, and the loss of us…as we allow them. We’re lost in our grief, and we can’t speed it up, we can’t change the things we cannot answer, we can’t make it not so. I can guarantee you this, and only this – we will miss our kids until our last breath, because we made him/her a promise when we gave birth (men and women alike) — we will protect you, we will guide you, we will teach you, and we will love you forever. All of that came true, and is true into the future.
So, here, friend…welcome. There has to be a place (and if you’re very lucky, many of them)…where our sadness is captured and held in a container of hope and wellness, where grief is not a thing to be ignored or denied, and where we’re allowed to share our memories, the sound bites of our kids’ voices, and the freeze frames that wake us in the night and greet us in the morning.
I can’t imagine a life without the freedom to talk about our years with Owen. I’ve heard of other families who take the position that talking about the lost child(ren) is forbidden. I can’t imagine, I never could. I only know that I’m one of the lucky ones. My friends and family acknowledge Owen’s passing as a loss experienced by all of us. They wouldn’t dare deny me the unique experience of parent loss, though if it would make my pain less, they would take it from me like a thief in the night.
Thank you, my precious family and friends. I love you forever, for you have helped me survive the unthinkable. We’re all still here. We’re all still feeling the loss of Owen. And, we’re all still finding our new selves in this post-Owen world. We’re all still finding our new selves each morning.
Song for the night: We Will Rock You, Queen (hitch up your pants, grab your boots, and rock our world, like your kid rocked yours)