It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.  — C.S.Lewis

We put so much emphasis on our loss, and rightly so in the beginning. It is natural. The emptiness and pain that comes with the death of a loved one will remain our focal point as long as we let it.  Don’t let your heartache stand in or replace your child’s radiant life and what it represented. We have an obligation to move out of the “egg”.

I was asked once to talk with a mother who had lost a child many years before and was still grieving as if it were yesterday. That grief was not about her loss anymore, but about her getting attention for her tragedy. I felt sad for her. Whatever I would say or do to soothe her, she would never hear. She was intent on going over her loss and all the years of constant pain.

It made me sad. I knew that I could do nothing for her that day to crack her shell of suffering.  She really didn’t want to change her thinking. She had not only lost her marriage (which to be fair happens in the best of relationships after the death of a child), but her older daughter was pulled into her mother’s dark whirl of suffering every year, and acted out with binge drinking.

Where is the obligation to other family members? Where is the celebration of her child’s life? People were touched and changed by encountering her child, why replace that joy with an unsettling melancholy?

Many times we let the kindness of others take over the responsibility of our “moving ahead”. Why not give over? The trauma of loss puts us in a state of suspension. We become the sleepy child being carried off to bed with no will power to resist. You know the feeling. It’s the “do whatever you want to me or with me” feeling of loss. It is our responsibility to awaken and find that hope again.

Wishing grief to leave your heart will not make it happen, we need to be as active and attentive in our healing as we are in attending to our daily needs. Each day, we must show up and work to stop stroking the smoldering fires of grief. We must form a new and deeper relationship with our children based on spirit.

Our children and loved ones are strong and glorious beings taking care of us now. They do not want us to dwell under the cloak of sadness. They want us to glow from within by embracing their constant love. Think how much we can attain with their help by just asking. There was a purpose to their quick lives and it was not meant for us to stand still in the darkest of tragedies. They have transcended this earth, left their earthly bodies and become pure spirits. 

I have talked with many parents who have lost children, and do you know what the most amazing thing is? That each one of those children, although not perfect and at times challenging, was full of joy, wise beyond their years, funny, creative, talented, adventuress, kind and adored by peers. They left their mark on this earth.

Be proud of the gift they brought to the world and know that you had a part in bringing that child here for all to learn and grow from everyday.

Let’s not remember them by their tragedies but let’s embrace the glory of their life that was a gift to us. If we want to fly again we must break out of the egg.


Vicky Bates 2011

Vicky Bates

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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