Friday, December 4, 2009


I'm borrowing this poem from another site. Compassion Friends is an organization for bereaved parents. They have published a poem that really spoke to me; I've modified it to my own taste.

Bereaved Parents Wish List

I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had him back.

I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you as well.

If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.

Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you more than ever.

I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but I also want you to hear about me. I might be said and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.

I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big hug.

I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.

I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.

I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.

When I say, "I’m doing okay," I wish you could understand that I don’t feel okay and that I struggle daily.

I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.

I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.

I wish very much that you could understand – understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. But I wish more that you will never understand.

I'm really lucky in that most, if not all, of the people I am close to understand this poem without having read it. I think the part that spoke to me the most was the third paragraph. I can't often talk about Henry without crying, and I see it scaring people away from talking about him. I wish I could control my tears, but it's not in my genetics, so I don't even really try. I do wish I could tell people I'm happy to talk about him and share, but usually I'm crying so much I can't get it out.


Anonymous said...

Those of us who haven't been through what you have don't understand or know what to say or do. The poem helps us.

You take care Dr. Smak.


rlbates said...

You can tell Henry stories all you want. Do you have a truly favorite one?

Anonymous said...

I often forget that my Mom suffered the loss of an infant child, my sister, in 1963 to Spina Bifida and possible mental retardation. I was born three years later. I was held more often, tigher, loved on a little more than most kids. Like you, my Mom had other children to care for at a time where grief was such a constant companion.

Now that I am a parent I ask a little more about Allison and one of the hardest times in my Mom's life.

She worked for a time with compassionate friends and found this type of poem to be helpful for herself as well as others, many years after her own loss.

Know that despite it being uncomfortable for others if you cry or express your grief to them, you might be providing them with something to reflect on as well.

Snickollet said...

I had never seen this poem before, and it spoke to me, too. Thank you for sharing it.

I'm also a crier when people talk about John, somewhat less so now, but I still have my moments. It does seem to add to people's discomfort with talking about him, but like you, I can't control it.

Wishing, as always, that you still had Henry. And that grief wasn't so hard.

twinmom said...

I see my 6-year-old son every time I read of your pain. I can only imagine what it is like, and even that brings tears to my eyes. I think it would be strange if you didn't cry every time you talked about Henry. That poem is wonderful.

Arlene (AJ) said...

I haven't lossed a child as you have dear, my heart goes out to you. Did lose my Sis Elaine and Godchild/nephew Kenny who would have been a senior in high school due to a local dentist back home driving drunk and know the pain we all went thru and still do, a day doesn't go by that they aren't in my thoughts and heart. Hope you can feel the hug I'm sending via my words to you in the loss of your darling son, Henry.

Barb said...

I have the opposite gene - when something hurts me deeply, I can't cry at all - but in the back of my mind I am crying silent tears all the time. Outwardly people think I don't have feelings or don't care. I envy people who can cry.

Anonymous said...

I read back through your previous post and remembered how when my Dad died we all went our separate ways in the evenings too. What my Mom didn't know was that I cried, almost every night, for years - probably 4th-9th grade - and I did't share that with her until I was in my 30's. Watch out for survivor's guilt with your daughters....I couldn't tell my Mom how sad I was because I felt she had enough to deal with grieving her own loss.

StorytellERdoc said...

Amazing poem. Thank you for sharing. My middle child spent two of his first five years fighting a malignancy...and won.

As a parent, we would all shoulder our children's pain. Our priest was at a loss for words when I questioned "why him??" and he said that if the answer isn't evident by looking at the situation now. there will be a day through our life journey when the answer will become clear.

In our case, it has. May your answer present itself to you someday.

...tom... said...


But I wish more that you will never understand.


OK . . .we will fervently pray (religiously and/or metaphorically) that we never do.

... and I will never be that person again.

I cannot help but think that loss is mourned as well.

As a parent so much of us is realized and 'born again' in our children. We hope they are a better people than we are ...were. We instill 'these values' and 'those beliefs', we make them over a thousand times in our minds and in our lives ...they are a boundless canvas until they reach the age when they begin to draw themselves and wrest control of their lives from our hands.

Sometimes we do a good job . . .others times ...

To lose that canvas, to have that picture never form in our mind, in our eyes, in our life, in our heart must be . . ..

Anyway, share your hugs that would have been for Henry with others. I am sure they will find them just as loving and just as meaningful.


P.S. A big 'second' to ribates call for more 'Henry stories'..!! H3ll, we are your captive audience..!! ...smalllol...

A Doc 2 Be said...

Dr. Smak,

Having walked the path of being "that" person who's child passed away; somehow, it is also more difficult to talk about because people find it more horrific.

Part of what has always puzzled me is why society is okay hearing about the death of a friend, spouse, parent, cousin, grandparent, distant relative or friend, even pets but when it is a child, somehow, that is supposed to be kept quiet... almost as if the fear that a deceased child is contagious. Yet, the pain of losing a child is like nothing else.

I have always wished that no parent would ever know the depth of despair that a dead child brings... for the pain is so deep and so dark for such a long time... and then, eventually, it lessens. Peace comes.

The one year anniversary is coming up ~ be especially kind to yourself before and after. I wish I could say it does not suck, but it does.

Many hugs on your journey to peace.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Smak, thx for sharing the poem
love k3p3

I'll tell my favorite Henry day he was outside riding his Cruckie, and I handed him a quarter, that dropped to the street....I said "sorry charlie"....he looked up at me with a bit of indignation in his eyes and said..."I'm not Charlie, I'm Henry". I was in the dog house the rest of the day. OOPS