Losing a child has got to be one of the most desolate journeys a mother and father can take, and the only people that can come close to understanding it are those who have experienced this kind of loss. My mom and dad lost a son to drowning when he was just three and a half years of age. My sister and I were only six weeks old and were robbed of the chance of ever getting the opportunity of meeting our beloved brother. He passed away many years ago on July 17, 1962 (p 195). Losing a loved one no matter what the age is probably the most challenging aspect of life that we all must endure in life. I have lost both of my parents, and I am now at peace, knowing that they are with their cherished son in heaven.
For some, the holidays can be a sad reminder as I tend to remember the awful phone call on December 14, 2015, regarding my mom. We spent our Christmas holiday that year with my mom in the hospital, where she eventually passed away on December 29, 2015. During this time, very dear friends of mine were there for us to give us some solace, laughter, and some much-needed time away from the hospital. Holly and Brad Blissit. My mom has always told me time and time again; time has a way of healing our wounded hearts. Although time doesn’t really heal the pain associated with a loss; it’s what we do with that time that matters. Dealing with grief is the process by which we heal. As much as we don’t want to, I think it is essential that we experience the pain. It can’t be healthy to try to escape it. For me, therapy helped and I do think my writing has also been a coping mechanism that helped me get through the grief. Whatever your coping mechanism may be, find it as it can actually help you feel better in the long-term.
My mom knew Holly and Brad and was thrilled that we were stepping out of the hospital to celebrate a bit of Christmas cheer. Anyone who knows Holly and Brad would agree that it is just what the doctor ordered. Brad had us laughing. We had not laughed in days. I did not think I could ever consider getting through this holiday with a grin, let alone laugh.
I have always enjoyed the holidays. I enjoyed them when the kids were younger. I used to revel in decorating the tree and the house. Up until my mom died, I did not have much of the holiday spirit to decorate as I used to. However, this will be the fourth year without her, and it is getting a little easier. I go back to when I did not feel sad about not having her around for the holidays and try to think of all the good times we had together during this time of the year. My mom loved to cook, and she passed that down to me. The one dish she cooked that she harped on me to learn was her homemade chicken and noodles. Not sure why I did not attempt to make her noodles when she was alive, but I finally did this past Thanksgiving with a little help from my childhood and life long friend Lisa Knight, and if she could have tasted them, I know she would have approved!
November 26, 2019, my phone buzzed, I looked down to read a text from my close friend Holly. I am thinking she is wishing my family and me a Happy Thanksgiving. Instead, it is the most tragic news that no one wants to share, that her two beautiful boys were in a horrific car accident, and one is in the ICU, and one was killed. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me asking myself how could this be real? I rubbed my eyes and reread it…how could this be true? So many thoughts were racing through my mind at that particular moment. My heart just ached for Holly, Brad, their son in ICU, and their son that lost his life.
The loss of a child is a pain that only bereaved parents can only know, and I cannot imagine the degree of suffering they are going through. Not to mention what their son who survived might be going through as well. It is impossible to grasp without experiencing it firsthand. I know when I found out this horrific information, my first thoughts were to jump in the car and drive to Arizona and hug them. Although, knowing the kind of grief they must be experiencing almost kept me from doing just that. But, my gut said, GO! So, we did just that.
I am so glad we went, that moment when we arrived at the hospital, I couldn’t imagine what this couple was going through. When we arrived, they were surrounded by some of their family. I could not get to Holly quick enough to wrap my arms around her as well as Brad. They are both being so strong for their son. He suffered injuries that will follow him, but nothing he cannot overcome. He is a fighter. I am in awe of their strength as they are focused on getting their boy back on his feet. But what cannot be forgotten is what this family has lost, and that is a son. Once again, I can’t fathom what they are going through, only those that have lost a child can understand this profound loss. I genuinely believe that when you lose someone as precious as a child, you must commit to the grieving process.
Allow yourself to take some time to deal with your emotions. You may need to retreat and take some time for you and your family, from the world around you and come to terms with all that has happened—grieve your child and the future you once imagined. This, however, does not mean that you are not going to have a future ahead for you and your family; you will have a future that has beautiful memories that will always be cherished. Just know that the future will still include us in it, and we love you guys and are here for you always.
I can remember when my mom explained to me the loss of her son, my brother. She became very closed off and did not cope well. My dad did not and would not speak of that day when Danny drowned. She wished that they had dealt with his death more constructively, i.e., by getting some help…going to therapy. My mom realized that as a grieving parent, you must find a way to continue to live with the loss. Even though she believed in her mind that time could heal broken hearts, she truly believed they needed professional help to get them through their loss. My dad never really wanted to be reminded of Danny as it was too painful. My mom would talk of him from time to time, and I am forever grateful as if it were not for her telling us the incredible stories of my brother, my sister, and I would not have some of the great memories of Danny.
Everyone grieves differently and in their own way, and I have learned we have to respect that. What I do know is that we don’t want to forget as no matter how many years go by, the anniversary date of their passing, their birthday, a remarkable day that you might have shared with them will bring back emotional memories and possibly painful feelings. I think that remembering them and talking about them helps. My mom’s anniversary date of when she became an angel is fast approaching. We are all remembering her and reminiscing about all the fun times we shared. I sometimes get out pictures and look at them, and I tend to associate what she might have been doing at that time. I think it is good to remember our loved ones. For some of us, I think we are afraid to ask about them, as it might bring about sad feelings. One of my greatest joys is talking about my mom.
It’s got to be an ongoing battle to balance the pain and the guilt of outliving your child with the desire to live in a way that honors them and their time on this earth. I can tell you, from knowing this young man, he did live life to the fullest. He was full of life and vigor, just like his father. He was headstrong, and he was a great big wonderful brother to the end. He protected his little brother, and he is his guardian angel. What I remember so fondly when we arrived at the hospital to give Holly and Brad a hug was Brad wished for some sort of sign from him that he was alright.
When I read these words that my mom wrote in her final letter to my sister and me, I often wondered if she was watching over me. “I don’t want either of you to worry. I know I will be with Jesus, and I will be united in my spirit, I am sure, with all my loved ones. I will always be with each of you; all you have to do is call on me, and I will send my blessings to you and your angel forever. I love you both with all my heart.” (p. 261) At the moment when Brad uttered those words, I knew in my heart that their son is with the angels, and he is most certainly watching over them.
As Kimberly Marooney, author of “Angel Blessings” shared with me, we all have moments in our life where we felt alone. We all have guardian angels that have our best interests at heart. When we are attentive, we are able to see their influence through synergistic experiences, sudden inspiration, and brilliant ideas that seem to pop out of nowhere. She so beautifully wrote in her introduction that you could access it by simply remembering a time when you felt deeply loved, and the love is there. Holly, Brad, and Luke just by remembering the deep love you shared with Logan, I am sure he will send you a sign. “Because, after all, love is the most powerful force in all of creation.