If you have lost a child, you know: Despair stings unexpectedly. When you see a photo of your child out of the corner of your eye, or hear a song he liked, or notice that his eight-year-old looks just like him, you may feel shattered by his absence. Strangely, for me, as active and engaged as I am in everyday life, I have, at those moments, the fleeting thought that I would welcome death with a broken heart.

I lost my Aaron in a boating accident on March 28, 2021. He was 42.

Yet life offers blessings. My other son Daniel and his wife Jennie sponsored a gathering of parents and their children who are enrolled in my grandson’s Henry’s elementary school.

Ten couples, the parents of mostly first-graders and kindergartners, crowded into the small living room of a Philadelphia row house that looked out onto a small backyard garden. Christmas lights highlighted those sturdy flowers and shrubs fed by an old city’s honest dirt.

The adults were singing, reading the lyrics off of an iPhone. One parent played a bass he had lugged to the party, another, the upright piano. Some of the children — well actually, mostly the courteous little girls — played small triangles, toy drums and a toy ukulele. The boys ran up and down the stairs.

I sat there quietly, completely relaxed, smiling without interruption. I did not know most of the songs. But when the parents started belting out “Yellow Submarine,” the national anthem of the Baby Boom generation, I joined along beneath my breath, but with complete commitment. I felt blessed.

Hope is the contingent promise of blessings. But just as despair can sting from behind, a blessing can arrive unexpectedly. If only we are receptive.

It is the everyday gifts — a child, a song, a group of rambunctious boys — that once in a while co-occur to create a setting of the greatest bliss. I hope for more of those moments, and most importantly, for my receptivity to them.

See Larry’s Hirschhorn’s full bio at Larry Hirschhorn – CFAR

Read more by Larry Hirschhorn on Open to Hope: Inscribing a Headstone: The Importance of Tradition – Open to Hope



Larry Hirschhorn

Larry Hirschhorn lives in Philadelphia with his wife Marla Isaacs. He has one remaining son Daniel and five grandchildren. He is a well known author who has published several books on organizational psychology. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School. He is a founder of CFAR, a management consultant company. He is the founder and director of its program, Dynamics of Consulting, a program for experienced consultants and coaches. He is an executive coach with over 30 years of experience. He collaborates with his wife, Marla Isaacs, a clinical psychologist, in helping couples and families resolve conflicts and restore intimacy. He is the author of a book of poetry, Grieving Aaron, available https://www.amazon.com/Grieving-Aaron-Poems-Response-Sudden/dp/1737674602.

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