Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is There Any Good That Comes from Child Loss?

Is there anything good that comes from losing a child? At first all you feel is excruciating heartache, ever present loneliness, deep emptiness, the old life gone forever, the future a blur, the person you loved most in the world gone forever, and you…changed forever. Nothing is ever the same again. You are a different person.

Days, months, years may pass and you cope as best you can.

And then…out of the depth of grief and despair, grows something remarkable. You begin to see others in the same situation; some of them just moving on one day at a time, others deciding to do something with their lives as they now saw that life…without their child. One bereaved parent meeting another, sharing stories, sharing memories, sharing hopes and dreams of a future they no longer have. And every one of them understands, for they have been there too. They understand as no one else can. There is a need that starts growing inside to do something in memory of the child, a need to show others there is hope and light at the end of a dark tunnel. Who better to do it? I, too, have been there.

Since my daughter’s death, I have met so many people I would have never met in my lifetime. Good, kind, caring people who have lived through the worst possible thing that could ever happen to them. I have met so many who have done so much for others that it has encouraged me to go out and try to help others also. I find it so rewarding. My saying has become, “If I can help just one person, then I have made a difference.” And I do it always with my daughter in my mind and in my heart. I do it in her memory. I do it because I know that she, also, would have done what I do for others, even though, in a different situation. I know that because I have been told for 15 years how she was the rock that bound everyone together. Such a wonderful thing to learn about your child, who you knew deep down was good, but never realized how good.

My life is so different than I would have ever imagined, and I wish I could share it with my daughter. I wrote a book that came from deep inside me. I began speaking to groups about coping with grief. I now write two weekly blogs. I have discovered in helping others, I also help myself.

I developed new priorities and goals. Some things that would have seemed a long time ago very important in my life may have no significance at all anymore. It is because I have already lost the one thing that always added meaning to my life. At one time I dreamed of my life revolving around grandchildren and family. Now it is making a contented life with my new husband of three years and enjoying as best I can what is left of the time I have here on earth.

I also look at things around me more closely now, a brilliant sunrise or sunset. I see beauty I never noticed before: the dessert blooming, the baby birds nesting close-by. It was always there. I was just too busy with the trivial things. I am more sensitive to news stories on TV about children, about war, about the economy. I live more in the moment because I have discovered that sometimes ‘tomorrow never comes.”

Friends say to me they couldn’t have survived losing a child. They don’t understand how I do it. They say they know they never could. I say to them, “Yes, you can. You, too, are a survivor, just like me. What other choice do we have?”

I believe that what I have done with my life is because of my daughter’s life…the fact that she lived has made me a better person…the person I am today. Thank you, Marcy, for living, for changing the world in some small way, and for continuing to help me make a difference.

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