When a child dies the universe splits in two. As the little soul flutters up to heaven, numb parents sink into the void. Nothing can help them. Not prayers. Not flowers. Not covered dishes. Nothing. Only that four letter word called time will allow them any healing at all, but only…in time.
I know this. I lost a child. The hurt was so huge, and now, so fresh once more. For decades I had not known another young child who had died. Until today. The pain I feel for the parents is immense because I know what they are going through. I know. And because I do know, I won’t say the words, “I know what you’re going through.” No one wants to hear that. It’s a feeling no one should have to bear.
I know that these crushed parents will rally to plan the last event for their child. No more firsts. Just one ending. They’ll be choosing the little clothes to give to the funeral home. They’ll choose a small coffin. They’ll thoughtfully leaf through sample prayer cards, a pamphlet of headstone phrases. It’s morbid. Positively awful. But they’ll do it. And they’ll do it well.
Those shattered parents will accept condolences from countless friends and family who are so sincerely sorry for their loss. But no one knows the extent of their pain. It’s as if these parents are continuously falling. Just falling, free falling off a cliff, on a completely new plane of realism they never knew existed. They feel pain, so their brains tell them they are alive, but their hearts tell them they, too, have died. These fragile parents realize all too clearly why God tore the veil on Good Friday. They think they will never land, forever circling. If they could just hit bottom they may feel some relief. But no, that’s not how the relief comes.
Surrounded by constant reminders of their child, these now childless parents cry buckets, they scream, they ask why. Sometimes they act brave. Most times they just act. They can’t sleep. They don’t want to eat. But something keeps them going. Could be they keep going for another child or for each other, or maybe it’s God Who pulls them out of bed each day. Something does. They wake up day after day, month after month, until one day they comprehend the unfathomable: Life went on. It really did. Life went on without their child in it. And they go on. They learn to smile again and even to laugh. And one day their grief is put aside long enough to thank God for whatever time He had given them with their child, replacing some of the sadness with new feelings. Life goes on whether they want it to or not. Their little one is always with them, just in a different way.
May God keep all such precious parents, and one couple in particular, protected in the palm of His hand throughout their agony until “time” finally arrives to ease their pain.
~ In honor of Bradley
Copyright 2012 Maureen Locher