Learning from Others

by Sandy Fox

My daughter died 15 years ago. Her dreams, hopes for the future…everything gone. My hopes for her: a family, a bright career, a wonderful marriage…all gone.

Each year I think what her life would have been like now. She would have had children to love and share with her husband; she probably would have had a career in the advertising or public relations field. Or perhaps she would have preferred staying home and just be a mother. They would have traveled eventually, seen the world, learned from the experiences and been better people for it. Perhaps my grandchildren would have done something special in this world and for this world. I dream of all that and then I see how what has happened has changed me forever. In some ways, it has made me a better person.

“You are a very special person,” a friend says to me. “You made the best of what has happened to you. I couldn’t have done it.” (Of course you could have, I think to myself.)

“I don’t know how you lived through it,” says one mother to me. “What choice did I have at the time,” I say to her. “You just do.”

“Does time really heal your wounds, your heart?” asks another mother. “Do you ever get over it? “No,” I answer. “You never fully heal; you never get over it; you never forget.”

But you do change. As time moves forward, we can all move forward. We can do what is best for us. It may not be what we originally thought we would do, but it can still be meaningful. People have come into my life and become part of it in ways I never imagined. I thought I would always teach; I retired three years after my daughter died, but in a way, I am still teaching, teaching others how to survive a child’s death, teaching others about the grief journey. And strangely enough, as much as it may help them, it still helps me too. I continue to learn from others. I continue to grow. It is a sign I am healing…slowly and continually.

I think Bob Baugher, psychology instructor at Highline Community, said it best in an article he wrote for a bereavement magazine: My precious child…I am because of you. Your child is your child because of you. And you are the person you are today because of your child; not because of your child’s death, but because of your child’s life. He lived. She lived. You live… and who would you have been without this wonderful human being, who came into your life and changed it forever.

Those who have lost a child ask me, “What magic thing will happen to me that will make me feel better?” There is no magic. There is only time and meeting others in your same situation. Talk to them. Listen to them. Find out what they have done, how they have coped and in turn, it will help you cope.

Sandy Fox

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Sandy Fox has won four finalist awards for her recent book "Creating a New Normal...After the Death of a Child" with over 80 coping articles and a huge resource section. One award is from USA Book News in the Health/Death and Dying Category for 2010. The second award is from ForeWord Reviews in the Health Category for 2010. The third is from Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. The most recent finalist award is for the self-help category of the 2011 Indie Book Awards. She is also the author of another grief book, "I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye." “I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye” tells the stories of 25 sets of parents and how they moved on with their lives after the death of their child, offering hope and survival techniques. Sandy has headed two national bereavement conferences for childless parents and spoken for many years at Compassionate Friends National conferences, POMC and across the U.S. to a variety of bereavement groups. She also writes articles for the Open to Hope site, EZ articles, and Journey through grief newsletter in addition to her own weekly blog: www.survivinggrief.blogspot.com. Sandy can be contacted at [email protected] to set up any speaking engagements or to ask any questions related to surviving the death of a child. Sandy was a guest on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart“ discussing: “I have no intention of Saying Good-Bye: Coping Techniques for the Now Childless.” To hear Sandy being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley010407.mp3

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