Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sharing at Thanksgiving

This week we celebrate on of our biggest family holidays and my mind often wonders to people like myself, who, except for my husband and his family (who live in Canada), don’t really have any family to celebrate with anymore. Let me be perfectly clear that we don’t sit at home and mourn the fact that my child died more than 15 years ago, and I don’t have my parents or any siblings. We have friends that invite us over or out to celebrate. But is it the same? Absolutely not. Do I think of the happy times I spent with my daughter and all our extended family? Of course I do. And as I think of all of them, who died far too early in life, I also think of others who are now in the same situation as I am, and I’m sad for them. I know how they feel, but I also know that there are ways to deal with it in whatever works best for you. This is one father’s story.

In my book one father had to deal not only with the loss of his child but also with the fact that no one wanted to talk about his son anymore. Father and son were on a helicopter sightseeing tour of New York City, when the helicopter malfunctioned and crashed into the East River. The father tried desperately to save his son by continually diving beneath the water, but to no avail. His son was tangled in the wreckage and was the only one of four people to drown. It took this father years of therapy and help from friends and grief organizations to sort out his devastation. In time he recovered but in the process became estranged from some family members and friends who wouldn’t talk about what had happened.

He has and will always have fond memories of many Thanksgivings that included his son and likes to bring these memories up during the dinner parties he and his wife have during the holiday season. On the other hand, the relatives who he still talks to aren’t interested in discussing his child.

He made a decision: at the dinner table when everyone is talking, he brings his son’s name into the conversation. “They don’t have a choice,” he says. “I make them listen. I don’t want my boy to be forgotten, so I talk about the good memories. They are forced to listen (what else can they do, get up from the table and walk in the other room!). Maybe, just maybe, one time soon, they’ll remember how important it is to me and include him in their conversations."

We all want others to remember our children. I, for one, am glad he does that. He is making a point. Just because his child isn’t here physically, he existed; he was important; he had dreams for the future; he wanted to make a difference; and he is and was loved.

Our love for them will never leave us; our children will always be a part of us, whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other day of the year. Love and memories never die.

Note: if you have a story you'd like to share about how you have handled an awkward situation related to the death of your child, please share and send me an email at .

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