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  • Writer's pictureJody Glynn Patrick

Living with the impossible — a child’s death

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

When a child is hurting, we give them a shoulder to lean on, a kiss, a doctor, a safe place to be. When we hurt, we need those same things, but it feels selfish to seek it out for grief or, if you do, perhaps others who have provided that support for a while now think they would be a greater help by insisting you move on, stand on your own feet again, or “deal with it in a healthier way.”

Does your heart agree?

Do you feel that I understand your feelings here?

No sermon; merely an observation.

People of faith may find a more compassionate shoulder to lean on in their belief of a higher power. I’m not pushing any religion at all, only saying that faith in a greater power implies that your deceased child is at peace, guarded, loved elsewhere, and some followers will find some small measure of relief in that. Or, if that angers us even more (“Why would a loving God deny ME the right to shelter, love and guard my own child?”), then perhaps we may find that our faith can give us the strength or foundation to endure the unendurable — the unfair and unmerciful events in our life — because God will hold us up. This is the “one set of footprints” doctrine, and I relied on it heavily in the past and did, indeed, find some comfort there on my darkest days.

My own faith suggests that God did not have a covenant with us to remove sorrow or prevent pain or death or illness or famine from the earth. Nor do I believe in a God who capriciously snatches children for His own use. The covenant was to be present in our time of suffering, should we seek God out, and to offer balm and a heavenly home to the one taken from us. God offered the promise of everlasting life though (dammit) on another plane of existence.

That belief gave me the ability to hold steady to my faith after my son’s death. While it was a very tenuous string, sometimes nearly invisible and stretched out of all proportion, I guess over time it was sufficient, as today I am able to live a life which incorporates both Daniel’s memory, the belief in an eventual reunion, and I am able to feel joy again.

No religious strings attached here, however.

In your pain, you may want to believe that your grief is deeper, that you must have loved your child more than I loved my son, if I could actually enjoy living a “new normal” after the tragedy, but that is not true. I am just further up the road, looking back, encouraging you forward. You can find your way. I, and others like me, are here to help shine light on your path. And that light is simply this message: You can endure. If you can’t find any grace or peace or comfort in faith at this moment, please do see the shoulder we offer. We are here, not to convert or even to witness – only to help without any religious or philosophical strings attached.

Some have deep faith, others have a weak grasp of faith, and others are atheists or taking a break at the moment from any affiliation. It doesn’t matter to me, frankly. As a greater community, we are simply here because we care about your journey and we understand the unimaginable pain of losing a child. We, too, have suffered this great trauma.

Stay with us, if only because it is true that yes, misery does love company. That’s probably why you first reached out — to find someone who truly understood your pain and sorrow because they have experienced what it feels like to lose a child, too. But hearts also crave hope, and we can help you bridge the pain eventually.

You don’t have to believe that now, but stay with us awhile. Read the other blogs. Understand that this is your community and we welcome you, bruised and battered, heartsick or angry, regardless of the number of years it’s been since the separation, or the age of the beloved child you lost. We are here.

Today, let that be enough to know and accept.

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