January 25th will be my third grandchild’s birthday.  There won’t be any cake or ice cream or a party. She isn’t here with us.   Instead we will put  balloons on her gravesite.   She would have been 14.  Her name was Jacy Kay.

She had my middle name.  We would have had another teenager in the family.  When I hear of people complaining of their teenager, I keep thinking of how I would  have loved to have had the opportunity of getting to know her as one.  But she was taken from us before she even had the chance to live.  It was my daughter’s little girl.

The pregnancy itself was a normal one and we had no reason to think we wouldn’t be bringing this little girl home.  Two years earlier, Jacy’s brother was stillborn, so we were all a little frightened at times. That pregnancy had been normal until the day of his birth.  But something went horribly wrong and the doctors didn’t get him out in time, and he was stillborn.

Naturally, during my daughter’s pregnancy with Jacy, we felt a little bit anxious at times.  The doctors, just to be “on the safe side, decided to schedule a C-Section for Jan. 25, 1996, at 8:30 a.m. When we still hadn’t heard anything by 9:30 a.m., I was getting frightened.  But finally the news arrived that Jacy was here. I jumped so high I nearly hit the ceiling.

However, 10 hours later, it was discovered she had a heart problem.  We were told it could be fixed without any problem.  She just needed five days to get stronger.  She was taken to another hospital where the special surgery would be done.  The doctors assured us they had successfully performed 6 other surgeries just like Jacy’s and all babies were now healthy, growing children.

For five days, we got to hold her and love her.  She looked so healthy and happy.  And we were ecstatic that this baby was born live.  We were thankful it was a defect that could be fixed with surgery.    We just wanted to get this surgery over with and get her home.  We fell deeply in love with her as any family does with a newborn child.

An hour after she went into her surgery, the doctor came out and said her heart was worse than expected.  I bluntly asked the doctor if Jacy was going to be okay.  He said they would do their best.  I could tell by his face he wasn’t very hopeful.  Soon after this conversation, our family was moved to a room that was supposed to be “more comfortable”.  But the room was just the opposite.  I then knew something was terribly, terribly wrong.  We were taken to a room where there weren’t any other people waiting for their loved ones to come out of surgery.

We were alone.

Three hours later, we were told Jacy did not survive.  I became so angry I could hardly contain myself.  I just wanted to scream “why?”  Why did we have to
lose another child?  Why was this happening to us again?  Then I started blaming myself.  I felt I must have done something very wrong in my own life somewhere
that God was definitely punishing me and everyone I loved.

But I now know God doesn’t punish us by taking away our loved ones.  Nothing we do causes our loved ones to die.  It just happens.  We can’t blame ourselves.
Also, if you have lost a child or grandchild, don’t ever let anyone tell you that just because you only had your loved one for a short time that “good thing you never really got to know that child.” That isn’t true.  You start loving a child as soon as you know of that child’s conception.  You think of that child’s potential.  All those hopes and dreams die with that child.

But there is hope of going on after the death of a grandchild.  A death of a grandchild hurts twice.  First you hurt for your grandchild and then you hurt for your child.  You wish your own child were young again and you could kiss the “owie” and put a Band-Aid on it and make it all better.  But you can’t.  Your child is a parent now and you can’t make it better because it will take time.

You can only help them thru the pain by being there for your child.  But don’t be so overly strong that you forget to shed your own tears for your own
emotions.  Tears are an important part of healing.  My faith is what helped me thru our losses.  Give yourself time to get through your loss.

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Sherry Van Pelt

My name is Sherry Van Pelt. I am a wife to my husband Max of 43 years, a mother of three and a grandmother of three. I am also an author and speaker. When I was 13, I lost my very best friend in an accident. The night before, we had gone roller skating and were laughing so hard we could hardly stand up because we were having so much fun. The next morning she was dead. I went to her funeral and I couldn’t believe she was lying in a casket! There weren’t support groups like there are these days. So I put my all my feelings and thoughts on paper. It was how I coped with her loss. Years later, when I lost my grandchild, I once again used the tool of writing. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain of losing him, so I put my thoughts on paper. I wrote it in the form of a letter as if I were talking to him. Thus the book “Dear Conner, a Grandmother’s Pain” came about. All my private thoughts are in this letter and because I did allow this letter to be published, I have helped many others. In turn, the thank you notes, letters, and phone calls I have received as a result of this book have been a blessing and a healing process for me too. So I feel when we reach out to help others, the blessing will come back and help us double.

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