Dear Dr. Gloria,
I want to tell you about my beautiful daughter Kristy. She was 21 years old and died on June 25, 2007 from complications after brain surgery.
Kristy was diagnosed with a very rare disease called Moyamoya. There is no cure for this disease. Only 1 person out of 2 million people in the U.S are diagnosed every year with this disease. Kristy had a mini-stoke and the doctors were concerned because she was only 21 years old. She had a lot of tests done. They found that her right carotid artery in her neck leading to her brain was narrowed and closed down. She had to have brain surgery to restore blood flow to the right side of her brain. Kristy made it through the surgery, but then a couple of hours after her surgery, she had a major stroke on the left side of her brain, which is what the doctors were afraid of what might happen. She was in intensive care.
About two days later, she had a seizure, and they had to do a second surgery on her brain to relieve the swelling. They had to remove the left side of her scull, and put a drain to relieve the swelling. A couple of days later she had another stroke on the top of her head. They had to do a third surgery on Kristy’s brain. This was all done with in one week in intensive care.
This was all to much for our daughter Kristy. She passed away from brain death. My husband and I miss our daughter so much. I have never felt so much pain in my life. We went from a 95 percent chance the surgery was going to be successful, to our daughter suffering terribly as we watched, and there was nothing we could do to help her.
We had no control over what was happening to her and it was one of the most devastating experiences we had to go through. We went from hope to despair, back to hope again, and dispair again several times. I can’t tell you how my heart breaks for our Kristy. We went from hope to losing our beautiful little girl. We still feel shock over what has happened, and can’t believe this has all happened.
I go to her grave site and stay there for two to three hours a day in the morning. I have a hard time leaving her grave site. I know that she is not there spiritually, but her body is there and I need to be near her. I feel like when I leave, I abandon her. It’s the most awful feeling in the world. Then, when Kristy’s dad comes home, we go to the cemetery together and stay there and pray together. Sometimes I go three times a day.
I can’t let go of her. My heart aches for her all the time. I miss her so much. Sometimes I sit in my living room and expect her to walk through the front door and see her smiling face. She still lived with us at the time of her death so there are memories all around us of her.
My dad died when I was 14. I remember how I felt when he died. I was hurt and cried. But, there is nothing like losing a child at any age. Being a young or older child, the feelings are the same. I cry all the time. I can’t bring myself to go in her room without crying. I think about her all the time.
I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs. It hurts so bad. Sometimes in the very early stages of my grief, after Kristy died, I felt like hurting myself. I don’t know if these are normal feelings or not but I felt that I couldn’t live without her and couldn’t handle the pain of her loss. I don’t have those feeling anymore but I still have a hard time to realize that I will never see my daughter again until I die, unless I live a good life.
Kristy was going to be a Catholic Nun. She was in the process of doing this when she died. She also volunteered at the convent. She helped plant food for the nuns and food for the poor in the fields. She also donated her hair before her surgery to Locks of Love, to make wigs for children who have cancer.
I believe in God, and I know that Kristy is in a better place. God has her now. If it weren’t for my faith in God, I don’t know where I would be today. I want to pray for all people that lose their child through death. I want to pray that you have the strength to move on with your life. I am trying to move on even though it’s very hard. Please pray for me and my family also.
A Response From Dr. Gloria
We are so very sorry for your loss and we understand what it is like to lose a child. June 25 is very recent and your wounds still so raw. Grieving is hard work and each one does it in her own time and in her own way. We are posting your letter on Open to Hope because we know it will be of help to others. You might want to check it periodically for comments because many of our readers reach out to each other with love and compassion.
You might want to consider looking for a Compassionate Friends group in your area. This is a group of bereaved parents who get together to give love and support to each other — all have lost a child and understand what you are experiencing. You and your husband would be so welcome there and you will find that you do not have to walk this path alone.
Be gentle with yourself. Find someone to talk to that understands.
You will certainly be in our prayers and in the prayers of many who read the entries here.
Our hearts are with you,