I went to high school in a little town in Upstate New York. Last weekend there was a terrible accident in that town. An accident that took the lives of 2 high school seniors who were returning from shoe shopping for their high school graduation. I was only in that town for the 4 years of high school and although I did not make many connections, I did know the mother of one of these girls.
18 months ago my youngest brother passed away. I remember sitting with my Step Dad trying to console him in his grief. As I put my arms around him through his sobs I heard him say, “We are not meant to bury our children.”
In the natural order of things, parents are not meant to bury their children, yet through illness or accident, a parent’s worst nightmare can and does occur. Unlike illness, painful as that kind of passage is, which gives some extended, quality time with the child, death by accident offers no warning, no time to prepare. There is no time to process everything, no time to say good-bye. When death occurs in this way, it’s often more damaging to those left behind; it’s as if the invisible cords that connect us to one another are abruptly and violently severed.
The death of a child shatters the myth of how life is supposed to unfold. Parents are not supposed to bury their children. Parents expect to watch their children grow into adulthood, having given them what they’ll need to succeed. And then as life continues, parents expect to sit back and enjoy their children’s lives, and the lives of their grandchildren. The death of a child cheats parents of this reward.
I cannot imagine the pain that a parent must go through. I have 2 children, a 20 year old daughter and a 17 year old son. My heart breaks for the parents who have lost a child. Tears stream down my face as I imagine the horror of that call or having the police show up at your house to give you the news.
I will NEVER get over the loss of my brother and my old friend will never get over her loss. She will learn to deal with it, and for outside appearances she will generally seem “normal” once again, but the emptiness in the center of her heart may remain forever.
I feel completely powerless to help the best I can do is to let you know my heart is broken for you in the tragedy that you’ve been faced with. I want to express my deepest sympathy for your loss and sorrow. May you feel some measure of peace in the days and years ahead and I will continue to carry you and your family in my thoughts.
I hope that our paths cross soon.
Sometimes life just sucks too much for words. Go hug your kids tight. Let them know you love them and to please stay safe.