Losing a Child

June 3, 2008 at 11:25 am 4 comments

My heart has been heavy over the past weeks. The miracle I had hoped for did not come to pass. My friend’s son is dying. It is a matter of days. Many a night I have cried, prayed and hoped. Why am I so affected? I only met his son once. Perhaps because my son is the same age and even looks similar, perhaps because I have children, perhaps because I have come to like and care about this person, perhaps because he told me so much about his son on different occasions that I feel like I know him and know what a wonderful, smart, gifted child he is. Perhaps it’s simply because I take other people’s sorrow to heart. Actually, it doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is: I think it is the hardest thing in life to lose one’s child. That is something I realized soon after I became a mother.

The other day I met with my friend and we talked. On the way home, still mourning the lack of miracle, I thought about all the things that had happened since he became sick. Many people’s lives had been touched. Work colleagues gave his mother their vacation time so she could stay home and look after him. Over the past couple of weeks, she was given paid time off. The boy’s schoolmates rallied. In the beginning, they took notes for him in class so that he wouldn’t fall behind. The boy who used to bully him became his biggest supporter. There were many gestures of friendship and caring, many small miracles which touched their lives during this process. I noticed changes in my own life. Suddenly I had more patience, and appreciated my children more than I have for a long time. I always love them, but I might have taken them for granted. This episode reminded me – and several other people – that there are no guarantees in life, and things can change dramatically from one day to the next.

I don’t think it is possible to console a parent. Losing a child is simply not part of the normal plan. We expect to lose our parents eventually, but not our children. And yet, expectations are not real. It is possible to lose anyone at any moment. Crises like these shake us up and remind us to cherish those around us. Today.

As we spoke, he said he had the feeling that his son had experienced and learned so much in this lifetime – more than some people ever learn. I suggested he was finished with this life, an advanced being, in a sense. I don’t want to suggest that he has to die in order to teach us how precious today is. I believe he had his own life and destiny, but like a pebble tossed into the pond of life, he has made waves that rippled away from him and enveloped us with new or refreshed awareness.

Luckily they had several months after the initial diagnosis, which allowed them to prepare for their separation. They were able to make the most of the time left to them, to say all that they needed and wanted to say, and they were able to say good-bye. They were able to end this chapter in the best possible way. Now a new chapter in life begins for my friend. It’s not what he has chosen, but that’s what life has dealt him. I wish for him that he continues to believe in life, to pursue his path, and know that his son will always be with him in his heart.


Entry filed under: children, Grief and Loss, Losing a child to illness. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. leafless  |  June 4, 2008 at 3:33 am

    A tragic death can bring about changes — for the better. We can all be graceful.

  • 2. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  June 4, 2008 at 6:29 am

    That’s a nice way to put it. Such events do seem to bring out the best in people, as if to balance out the mournful side.

  • 3. SanityFound  |  June 4, 2008 at 6:58 am

    This is so sad, hugs to T

  • 4. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  June 4, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Thank you. It really is sad, and impossible to understand. The older we get, the more we learn to live with this reality, although the emptiness left behind will always remain.


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