What It’s Like to Lose a Child

“Trust that you can learn from each challenge, regardless of how disturbing or painful. That is a God-given right inside of you. Invoke your right to learn from everything.” – John Morton

Everyone asks what’s it like to lose a child.

Disbelief

How could it be?  This only happens to people you don’t know who are on the 6 o’clock news at night, in some town you have never heard of, “What a shame, how tragic,” you sincerely say to yourself as you reach for your magazine or get up to start dinner wondering if you should make a salad. In your wildest dreams, you could never imagine your child being taken away so suddenly.

Anger and Guilt

We finally got it right.  Why us?  And this is hard to admit: Why not someone else’s child, one who wasn’t so handsome and smart, who didn’t have such a tough childhood as Rocky with his severe asthma?  Why didn’t he come home from the hospital that night?  Why was it different that time?  What could we have done to change that outcome? We should have been more alert or we should have said no when he wanted to go out. We should have seen the signs. It’s endless, so stop. It’s not about fault.

People cared and were concerned for us but they went on with their lives, the school plays, the ski trips. I pictured people at cocktail parties or restaurants sitting around and kindly discussing details about Rocky’s death or how we were doing as a family. They also needed to speak about our tragedy so they too could make sense of the whole shocking incident for themselves.

My friends certainly had their emotional moments, they loved us but they slept most nights, they planned family vacations over coffee, they looked at colleges. WHAT ABOUT ME? What was I supposed to do? How was I supposed to act when they forgot and talked about their kid’s parties or school trips?

I knew they cared and were careful in their conversations around me but my whole body and soul my whole existence was the loss of my son. It was a quenchless yearning that couldn’t be filled.

What would fill this dark hollow in my chest?

In the beginning, you are so closed down that your pain becomes a prison cell surrounding you so tightly that it literally makes it hard to breathe. There is room for no one. But while you are trying to make sense of life and wondering if you can go on something has been happening.

Standing sentry by your side is your child’s spirit, waiting with such deep, blinding love for you, waiting for you to acknowledge his or her presence.  As you lay on your bed curled up in that fetal position, your child is there, surrounding you with a powerful grace.

Your child is anticipating your slow release of pain and anger so that you can move into an awareness that your child continues to have purpose, that connection of parent-child will never be broken. Speak to your child with the knowledge that his or her life continues in the deeper sense.

Once you become aware, your beautiful child will remain with you to open to the possibilities of spirit. Quiet yourself, take that deep breath,  and feel that grace and presence around you unlocking your heart, empowering you to let your child in and connect.

Vicky Bates 2010

Vicky Bates

More Articles Written by Vicky

After 18 years of marriage and career, we decided to adopt two babies. My oldest had many health issues which after 10 years led to a fatal anaphylactic shock. I believe that my spiritual beliefs helped me understand that the tragedies we face challenge us to confront our pain and slowly work through it. That is what I did through helping with hospice and watching the process of transition for the dying and seeing that even in the hardest times the gentle kindness of humor is a necessary tool.

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