When your child dies at any age a part of you dies with them. Whether they only lived within the womb or whether they lived thirty years, a part of you is lifeless. The question you must ask yourselves is: What are you going to do with that missing piece? Can it ever be filled? If so, what will it be filled with?

When my grandfather died, I felt as though my heart would break. He practically raised me, and to have him pass away was just plain sad. Then my father died and that heartbreak happened. To have him taken from this earth at the young age of 53 was just too much for me “a daddy’s girl.”

I was in disbelief for so long that I even thought I saw him in crowds and I dreamt about him nightly. Shortly thereafter, my son died and my heart didn’t break; it was as if a hole had been punctured right through the already weakened layers. I thought my life had officially ended.

The death of anyone or anything close to us may feel like the end of the world, but I’m here to tell you it isn’t. I rose above the tragedies that befell me. It took time, perseverance, and support, but it can happen.

At first, I wallowed in my misery. Sometimes I feel like that is necessary, tears are very healing. However, after a time, I realized I could get stuck in my misery-rut permanently if I didn’t change something. So I decided to change how I viewed the world around me.

I had been focusing for so long on the negative in my life, and all of the calamities that had presented themselves to me that I made a goal to try and find something positive in everything I encountered. It was hard to do at first.  For example, how do you find pleasure in a vehicle cutting you off in traffic? Or how do you find joy in the telemarketer on the phone calling in the middle of dinner on Sunday night?

But I was determined, so I did. The person cutting me off in traffic must have been needed somewhere quickly; the telemarketer was just trying to make a living. The list goes on, but the one thing I noticed over time was that my entire demeanor changed.

The more I did for others and tried to focus on positive things, the more the hole in my heart began to fill in. Slowly, little-by-little, I started thriving, not just surviving.

There is a phenomenon that happens when you give a little of yourself: the world gives something back to you. I will always have those missing pieces of my heart, but they are now covered gently with the acts of kindness I do toward others. Each and every minute of every day I miss my loved ones, but life is more bearable when I think of them watching over me as I help others in their memory.

I challenge you to try this radical approach and reach out to others in loving memory of the angels in your life. The rewards you reap will be greater than the ones you receive while wallowing in desolation.

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Amy Maddocks

As an author, educator, wife, and mother, Amy Maddocks learned firsthand about the grief and trials one experiences when losing a child when her son, Connor, died. More than 120,000 children die each year in the United States alone, and of those, more than eighty percent die before their first birthday. Grief-stricken families, friends, and communities are overwhelmed by the unexpected experience of such loss. Usually, they don’t know how to cope or how to make a life without that special person in it. One of Amy’s purposes in life is to help those families make a wonderful life after such a tragedy. Amy published a book about child loss, called "Too Precious For Earth." It reads like a novel but assists like a self-help book. Part of her goal with the book has been to spread the word that there are many bereaved parents surrounding us every day, and people need to understand what the parents go through and what they need to heal. It not only is a great book for anyone who has suffered a loss, but also for those who want to be enlightened and uplifted. Amy currently lives in Okinawa, Japan, teaching school to military children.  She graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Education and is currently progressing toward her Masters in Learning and Technology.  She is a free-lance writer for CNN Travel, Okinawa Hai Magazine, the Open to Hope Foundation, and Venture Magazine. Amy is a volunteer with many organizations, both online and in her local community. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Amy enjoys outdoor activities such as geocaching, camping, four-wheeling, rafting, and pretty much anything to do with the outdoor world. She also enjoys digital scrapbooking and helping others.

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