You feel as if your heart is being ripped out of your chest.
Sometimes, the pain is so unbearable that you don’t think you can go on.
Maybe you want to end it all, just so that you don’t feel the pain any longer.
You spend sleepless nights going over every moment you can think of in your head.
Will the pain ever end?
On a personal level, I have spent the last year and a half working through the loss of my stepmother. I have had to go through all the stages of grief. Looking back on my own behavior, I realized I was becoming more and more like her.
I couldn’t let that define me.
Furthermore, lately I have seen many families losing their children. A few months ago, one of my best friends from childhood lost her daughter to a senseless murder, along with 5 of her friends.
I have seen her painful posts, and I know how devastating it has been for her.
I have also seen several families in my HoPE family lose their children, some without even having much of a chance for life.
How do you deal with that kind of loss?
Although I have experienced the pain and grief that comes with losing a loved one, I can only imagine the pain you feel when that loss is your child.
Lately, I have been wracking my brain, trying to see how to cope with the loss of a child. It has made me consider deeply how I would deal with the loss of my own children.
On the one hand, I have always been very spiritual. On that note, I know and accept death as a natural part of life.
However, to see the devastation of families losing children tears my heart. To see their pain and suffering has hit me like a fire in my own chest.
When you lose someone, you need to allow yourself to grieve. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to get over it, or move on. Although they may have good intentions, nobody has the right to tell you how to feel and deal with your loss.
Although in time the pain will lessen, it is something that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
The important thing, to me, is to not let the grief stay too long. This leads to suffering, and that is not healthy for you or for anyone else. You will eventually come to a crossroads, where you can either let the grief and pain consume the rest of your life, or you can choose a different path.
For almost 20 years, I watched my stepmother suffer in pain because she never really dealt with the grief from losing her parents. I knew she was locked in grief, and that ongoing pain led to severe depression, uncontrollable anger, and hopelessness.
Many people wondered why I still had anything to do with her at all after the years of abuse, and pain she put me through. In many part it was compassion. I knew that everything she did was because of her suffering.
And, I saw myself becoming just like her. I had to change.
I started focusing on allowing myself the time to deal with my grief, and worked through the five stages of grief.
As a parent facing the loss of a child, you also need to allow yourself the time to go through these stages. Don’t let anyone else force you. However, if you want to make more of your life, allow it to happen when you are ready.
Leave a Legacy
When you are ready to heal, one of the most healing things that you can do is to commit yourself to something greater than yourself. One of the best ways to do that is to become an advocate for others who are facing similar challenges in their own lives.
On our recent trip to Dallas, my new friend Dan shared with me that Families For HoPE, who put on the conference, was the legacy for the children of the founders, all of whom have lost their children to Holoprosencephaly.
If you are experiencing the loss of a loved one, especially your child, find a way to make a legacy for their memory. Don’t let their life, no matter how short or long it was, be in vain.
You can do this by:
- advocate for other parents
- join or form a support group for other families in similar circumstances
- just going out and share your experiences with others to create social awareness of what you have gone through.
just to name a few options you have.
Personally, I have decided to use my experience to help others deal with pain when they are ready. I decided I don’t want to watch anyone else suffer as my stepmother did, if I can do anything to help.
Although I also accept, I can only help those who want the help I have to provide, I also realize I need to help create awareness that there are options out there, even if you don’t see them right now.
Doing this will help you to heal, and you will be helping others at the same time. Always remember as well, the loss you feel will always be with you. You can allow it to destroy you, or you can use it to inspire you. The difference between the two is not what has happened to you, it is what you choose to do with what life has thrown your way.