A few days ago, we arrived home from Orlando where we attended the annual TCF (The Compassionate Friends) conference along with other bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings from all over the world.
Buelah and I led two workshops and served on another, a panel of bereaved parents. The topic, “As We Begin to Thaw.” The “Thawing” panel was led by our friends, Dave & Lora Krum. In recent years the Krums have lost two young sons: Dylan and Gavin. These two sons were their only children. Interestingly, just outside the window where our workshop was held, children were playing in the water of a Disney-like park. So, it didn’t surprise me when Dave Krum honestly admitted, “I feel frozen today.” Even though he was on the panel, he couldn’t say much last Saturday. He was frozen shut and all bereaved parents in attendance understood. Earlier in the week, the Krums bravely tried to return to Disney’s Epcot theme park, the very place they had taken Dylan and Gavin years earlier.
They reminisced and cried as they remembered the place where they once had experienced so much joy with their sons. Now, it is a place of pain and sadness for what they will never have again.
Bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings know all too well the pain that comes from special places that once brought us joy. When a child dies, there is an avalanche of secondary losses that seem to keep piling on our broken spirits.
My eighty-eight-year-old mother died a few years ago after giving birth to and raising ten children. She was a special lady and deeply loved by her family. However, I will be the first to admit that, for me, her death, funeral and grief that followed were a, “walk in the park” compared to the loss of our eighteen-year old son. The loss of a child is in a separate category altogether. Psychologists have described “child loss” as the worst. I agree. In Dave and Lora’s case, it is double.
If you want to see a list of the “secondary losses” that follow the loss of a child, you can read it by going to: http://www.tcfeastoftheriver.org/secondary-losses-in-grief/ You might be surprised by the length of this list.
One of the biggest complaints voiced by bereaved parents is that their friends, family and work associates, “just don’t get it.” Many years after the death of a child, we are often frozen by an event, place, picture, a piece of clothing and other things too numerous to mention.
The late actor, Paul Newman, once said, “you close on houses…. but you don’t close on this…the death of a child.” I agree. It does get different but you never close on it. Those “secondary losses” just keep coming at us like a horrible storm. We need people who will stand with us in the thunder…. watch the lightning…and still believe in a rainbow.