There Are No 'Do-Overs' When Your Child Passes Away
Often, when tragedy strikes, one can rebuild. There may be losses that cannot be replaced, but we still move on and make new beginnings. It’s very difficult, but nevertheless we do it. Perhaps, that is why many think after child loss, the bereaved parent shall do likewise.
For other tragedies, there is often the initial shock and disbelief. We shed many tears and often we suffer from PTSD to one degree or another. We vacillate between depression and anxiety as we attempt to come to grips with our losses and expend the energy needed to put things back together the best we can… to salvage what is left of our lives. We understand that our loss might entail “things,” and perhaps some people we greatly loved. Yet, we grieve for a time and then move on. It is what is expected, so we find a way to “adjust.” In my experience, those who have not lost a child believe the bereaved parent shall do likewise.
Again, not so.
When a child dies, there is no avenue to rebuild; there are no “things” that can be replaced; there are no second chances; there are no “do-overs.”
We have had to bury our child along with absolutely everything that our child’s life enveloped. All our hopes and dreams were buried as well. It never crossed our mind our child would not grow up and go to college, perhaps marry and have children of their own one day. If our child was with us long enough to have those opportunities, they leave behind their own family who mourns and whose future is forever altered. What could have been, would have been, shall never be. There is no getting back any of it; it is final. Death of a child is final.
If there are surviving siblings, their lives are also forever altered. They, too, must come to grips with the fact that all here is temporary; that there are no sure things in this life; that everything can change in the blink of an eye. As parents who are struggling to simply get out of bed on any given morning, we now have to find the strength to help them go forward, as well. Their perspective, our perspective, has been dramatically overhauled. Security has been rocked to its very core. The pain is visceral.
We can’t go back.
We can’t rebuild a life that no longer exists in this world.
We can’t formulate new hopes in a void.
We can’t fill that void.
We can’t replace our child.
We can’t give our life in place of our child’s.
We can’t wake up from this nightmare.
Our life is now an endless cycle of baby steps — one day at a time. We often function… barely. Not a day goes by when we don’t think about our child, that we don’t miss our child, that we don’t long for our child. We learn to place ourselves on auto-pilot. There is a part of our heart that cannot be repaired. We gloss it over to the best of our ability so others won’t see the damage done.
Yet, it remains.
Never again will anything be as it was.
No matter how many smiley faces we tape over it, the hole still exists beneath.
There is no going back, only moving forward. I patiently endure as I wait for the day on which I, too, shall be called “home” and be reunited with my beloved child to never be parted again. It is my beliefs and the hope of that joy that gets me through one more day.
I don’t move on, only forward, taking the memories of my child with me; holding my child securely in my heart where no one else can enter except God. Time does not exist in that place; time for me stopped the moment I was told: “Your child is dead.”
Yes, there are no do-overs.
Jude’s book, “Gifts from the Ashes,” is available at Direct Textbook.
Follow this journey on Jude’s website.
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