An old friend of mine was sitting at a red light today and in a split second, her whole life changed. Her 2 year old son was killed when another vehicle ran a red light. Like so many people around her, from her past or even those who don't know her, I want to DO something. I want to help ease their pain somehow, when I know all too well nothing can be done.
My mind keeps wandering back to them. It's hard to imagine on this chilly yet sunny day that someone's entire world is crashing around them. Not one or two people but many, many lives were touched by this little boy and now, by his death. These are their darkest hours. Nothing can be done.
My immediate response is to reach out, to let her know that I'm here if she needs me. Without a doubt they are in shock right now. covered in people and questions, caring for their other child who is still in the hospital. I know they need time and that time will come when all these people surrounding them will go back to their lives and then, the bereaved are left to their grief. Their fresh grief. It seems so daunting, but nothing can be done.
I want to write something that will help guide the newly bereaved. To help them know what to expect, to help them understand don't bother "expecting". I just feel the need to write. Maybe one person will tuck this away in their head or one person who needs it will read it and the ripples of Keely's waves will continue....
1. Every journey of bereavement is different. Every mother, father, sibling, friend will be affected by the death of your child. Everybody affected will react in a different way to each day. You have to carve your own trail and look deep within yourself. Your feelings are okay.
I wrote the beginning of this post 6 months ago. To be honest, I don't know why I didn't post it. It sat in my draft box unfinished for all this time. Maybe I felt it wasn't my story to tell or that it was too soon. Maybe it's still, after nearly 7 years of my own bereavement, too fresh for me. Any time I hear of someone losing their child, it comes back to me; those dark early days. Unthinkable before and unspeakable after. Those early, dark days.
But I will finish my open letter. And anyone bereaved, feel free to add your own in the comments if you so wish.
2. The road will get more smooth. Sort of. No bereaved parent ever wants to hear that their grief or pain will go away, to give it time or that you'll feel better. And nobody EVER wants to hear that from someone who isn't bereaved. But, I can tell you that it changes, it evolves. It becomes a part of you in a way that I can't put into words. It will always, always be there but over time, those darkest hours will become less. The dark time will rear its ugly head and you'll face it again. But not every day, not every hour.
3. Your child will not be forgotten. Seriously. That was one of my major concerns. I wanted to make sure she was included. In my number of kids, in my parents' number of grandkids. I was afraid if I didn't make it happen, it wouldn't. I was vigilant. I still am, but I don't feel the constant pressure that I once did. I have found a lot of comfort in the ways other people remember. They really do. Even if they don't always mention it, they remember. Not everyone, but a lot of them.
To be continued...