Does the sun shine bright forever
Have your fears and your pain gone away
~dani and lizzy
When we send a loved one home to heaven I know that many of us wonder. What is it like? Are they are ok? Are they with family? I am here to tell you that no one wonders things like this more than a parent who's child is in heaven without them. I am not diminishing the grief of losing a spouse, sibling, friend, or parent, but losing a child adds special layers of pain and questions. When our child is first placed in our arms we vow that we will protect them always. That we will ensure they are fed and cared for. That we will allow no harm to come to them. That we will raise them and watch them grow. We will be there for them through school, graduations, weddings, their own children... until something horrible happens and that is all ripped from us.
Ultimately we have failed at the most important jobs of our entire lives. I know what you are thinking .. I know what you are going to say here, we did not fail, that situations were beyond our control, we could not have stopped it, we did nothing wrong. I hear you, I hear your words, each and every one, that does not change it. While I realize that it was not me driving the car that my girl was in, I had apparently not pushed the seat belt rule hard enough. While it is not anyone's fault when a child is diagnosed with cancer there is no doubt in my mind that the questions come up of.. what if I had seen the signs sooner, what if we had gone to a different doctor. No one can tell me that a parent who has lost a child does not or has not ever questioned their own actions that led to the terrible moment that their child was no longer here. We don't mean to.. it is just what happens.
I want you to imagine something for me. Imagine that first time your child went out without you, or if you aren't to that age yet, think about your child walking out the door on their own. No adult supervision. That first movie, that first trip to get ice cream, that first walk to school alone, that first errand for you to the corner store. Scared aren't you? For the first time you have absolutely no knowledge of exactly where your child is, who they are with, who is around them, if they are being careful, are they safe, are they warm enough, did they take their coat.... a bazillion questions swamp your mind, even if the outing is for 5 minutes. Your heart and mind do not ease until your child waltzes safely back in the door and gives you that look of "What???!!!??? What is wrong with you???" when you wrap them in your arms and squeeze them a little too tight.
Now imagine knowing that your child is never going to waltz back in. That when the door closed behind them that was it. The questions that swamped your mind earlier... continue. Over and over and over and there is no reply. That is what it feels like to have a child in heaven. Are they ok? Are they safe? Are the warm? Is it beautiful there? Do they hear me? Do they know how much I love and miss them? Are they upset that I smiled today? Do they think I don't miss them because I made it two days without thinking of their death? Is the dog with them now? Do they understand how much Charlie meant and are now taking care of him? Do they have dogs in heaven? Is she getting her favorite foods? Does food even matter? Does she see me talking about her? Does she have wings? Is she meeting new angels as I meet their parents? Does she hear of young people from home coming and go meet them? Does she know I have a hard time talking to her out loud? Is she upset that sometimes I pretend she isn't dead?
Imagine if you will ... a life without knowing.
I have tried through the journey of this hell to explain to people things bereaved parents may need. Things that may help them get through another day. I think where I may have failed slightly is in giving the false hope that you could fix us. There is no fixing what we are going through, only helping make it better. We will never be ok again, we learn to carry on though the pain and questions but that does not mean we are ok. I think some how I lost track of explaining that the things we need are not a one and done. There is no list that you can check off and at the end get an A+.
Sorry if I sound a little edgy today, just feeling the pain today a bit more that other days. I wish I could tell you "hey.. why don't you abc and then I will feel better!" or "I know! I am going to xyz and then I will be happy" nope.. I can't. Believe me if I could I would. You are probably wondering by now why I keep mentioning you. Why I keep saying what YOU can do to help.. what YOU can do to make it better. Because we have no energy left, because we have done everything already we could imagine to make it better, because WE need help.
During the Christmas season many of us pull an Angel from a tree and spend money on a family we don't know so that they could wake up and have Christmas. I understand this. I think it is a beautiful beautiful thing. I wish all families that had the means would do this. (I also wish that someone monitored what went on the angels a little better... asking for shoes and clothes for your 2 year old but on yours you have a new tablet and an iPhone but that is neither here nor there) This Christmas I am asking you while you are out filling your cart with toys and clothes for a family in need to remember, there are other families in need, but they can not write them on paper.
I imagine if a bereaved parent could write an angel card it would be similar to this:
I would like my child back.
I would like to know they are ok and what they are doing.
I would like my friends to know I love them even though I am sad.
I would like my family to feel loved this Christmas even through I am not doing so good at showing it.
I would like to go see the Christmas lights with someone who would just let me cry.
I would like to set my baby a tree up but I can't see to do it through my tears.
I would like someone to tell me that the time does not matter that it is ok to still be a mess.
I would like to sing a Christmas Carol without crying.
and above all...
I would like to know what it looks like in Heaven.
I know that these things are impossible to obtain for anyone.. I am just asking you to remember that during this time of year it is especially hard for us and that we just may need some extra love, I am asking you to ask yourself ... what can you do to help someone who's heart just hurts a little more during Christmas?
Merry Christmas to all,