- Kate Barker
Help for Parents Grieving the Loss of a Child…
I am the mother of a first grader who bounded down the steps of the school bus on the first day of December and within minutes was killed in a hit and run. The murderers were never found.
This was over thirty years ago…but NOT a day goes by that my heart and arms don’t ache to hold him once again.
Listening to reports of the recent school shooting tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut my heart feels as if it’s being shoved through a paper shredder over and over. I go about the day misty eyed…
…knowing and feeling the gut wrenching, inexplicable physical pain of losing a child.
…knowing the journey of grief is long, grueling and never really over.
…knowing grief is a very personal journey…there is no right or wrong way to ride this rollercoaster…(unless a coping mechanism becomes unhealthy and inflicts suffering on another).
…knowing emotions are unpredictable…the anger, the despair, the fear, the tears for hours on end.
And, yet, “my heart in its sorrow rejoices,” recalling the kindnesses, the gentleness and the support of so many…family, friends and strangers reaching out with their reassurance of love and understanding.
The world is full of caring, loving people who want very much to help but are often unsure about the best way to show their concern.
I remember a few precepts that were and still are especially meaningful and offer them as a guide to those reaching out to grieving parents:
1. Please don’t ignore my painful loss. Saying nothing hurts worse than saying the “wrong thing” with sincerity. Some helpful phrases: “I’m sorry.” “I don’t know what to say, but I really care.”
2. Let me talk about my beloved, if I want to. Let me talk about how he died. Don’t be afraid to say his name. Share a memory if you want to.
3. Sit with me in silence. Sometimes words are absolutely useless. Squeeze my hand, hold my hand, pat my shoulder…give me a hug…cry with me. Look me in the eye…please don’t be afraid of my sorrow, of my tears.
4. Please don’t tell me you know how I feel! No, you don’t! We can never know how another feels…but ask me how I feel. And don’t tell me it’s part of God’s plan or that he’s in a better place.
5. Certain times of the year will always be hard for me….like all holidays! Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. And most every family milestone tugs at my heart…births, children’s birthday parties, graduations, and weddings.
It’s true…. love never dies…memories of my child are alive and well in my mind and the hole in my heart will only be completely mended the day I am reunited with my beloved child.
But I have been encouraged and sustained by your friendship, your care, your support and help. May you be blessed!
Wonderful song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqwomT5YSiw
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