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My Child is Dead But Not Forgotten.
There is no greater pain than the death of a child. It’s a pain from which there is no recovery. One merely learns to live with it.
My Son Took His Life
It has been five years since my son took his own life. I know now that I will never recover. I learn to live with it although the hurt is more profound than anything imaginable. Only a parent who has lost a child will understand the pain.
It Changed me
It’s anguish that has changed who I am at such a deep level; I read that tragedy or extreme emotional trauma alter one’s DNA. It’s incomprehensible. I feel completely different at the cellular level as though a stranger lives inside my body. The death of my child has left a scar on my soul that will last throughout many lifetimes.
The knowledge that I will never hear his voice again makes me continually agonize that I will forget how it sounded. A gut-wrenching fear that I will not remember the sound of his laugh and the feeling of warmth that ran straight to my heart every time I would hear it.
All I Have Left of My Dead Child
All that remains are the memories and the photographs with which I so lovingly surround myself lest I forget what he looks like or his sly, half-shy smile.
Such a searing need to cling desperately to any item that belonged to him now exists where he once did. Whether it be his favourite t-shirt or his big old truck, it’s amazing how much comfort comes from any piece of him as though touching his belongings is being able to contact him in some cherished way.
Although people become uncomfortable in the presence of my grief, these little things that were a part of him, bring me great comfort.
They Don’t Understand
Eventually, people start to pull away to “give us our space” to grieve alone. Understandably they move on with their lives.
As a parent of a dead child, you wonder how in the hell can life carry on as though nothing happened? Don’t they get it?
For a long time, I very resentful because everyone just carried on while I fought daily with the demons of guilt, anger, resentment, anguish and a broken heart.
Don’t Avoid the Subject
People avoided bringing up my son’s name for fear of upsetting me, one because he was dead and two, because he committed suicide. I want people would talk about him. I need to know that he’s remembered. All I have are precious memories, and stories of him shared with me by others.
When two or more of us are talking about my son, I feel as though he is right there too, laughing right along with us. He is with us when we gather and allow his name and his stories. Don’t deprive me of such pleasure.
I Don’t Want to Feel Better
Then sometimes, I don’t want to feel better. I need to let the feelings take over as a sort of release. Don’t deny me this either. It’s part of the grieving process, a process that will last the rest of my life.
If you have a friend or family member who has lost a child, make them aware that you are willing to talk about their child. We need to talk about them.
Sometimes it will make us feel sad, sometimes it will make us feel happy, but we need to feel something.
We need to cry over them; we need to laugh about them; we need to share our memories of them because it helps us keep our child alive.
Talking about my child allows for an outlet for the festering grief that will likely destroy me if locked inside.
Conversations With Grieving Parents
So the next time you’re in a conversation with someone who has lost a child, and the conversation turns to that child, please don’t change the subject, don’t get nervous and uncomfortable. Should we not want to talk about them, we will let you know right away, but generally, it’s maddening when our lost child becomes a taboo subject.
My child is dead but to me, he is not gone. Please take every opportunity to discuss my child with me. As a parent, my child is alive in my heart forever. Hearing his name, seeing his photos and sharing his stories bring me great joy.
Get Some Help
If you have lost a child and are having a difficult time learning to cope (you’ll never get over it), please seek some help and support.
Talking to your doctor, pastor, counsellor, friend, a support group or another parent who has lost a child can be of great comfort.
Most importantly, allow yourself time to grieve, as much time as you need.