Saturday, May 14, 2011


We had our last bereavement group of the season last week. The group is ever-changing, but there has existed a core of 4 familes for a few months now. There is a kinship there that I've not achieved anywhere else. We all know. We all get it. Our children were different ages, different sexes, died of different causes, but the shared experience gives us an instant understanding of one another that few others will ever have.

Last week our moderator asked us to reflect on how we have changed, what we have learned, from our experience as a bereaved parent. There were several things mentioned, and much overlap as expected. These stood out for me:

1. We see the world differently now. Not better than we did before, but differently. We feel more now. When I used to read a news story about a tragedy, whether a child lost or a natural disaster, it was a news story. A bit of pity flashed in my brain, and was gone. Now I feel it. The tsunami, Japan's earthquake, the local teen who died of a seizure in the bath tub...those things hit me in a way they never did before.

2. Grief is what it is. You can't control it. You can't outrun it. You can't out-think it. My mind spent a lot of time trying to find a way to get away from grief. Nothing worked. Knowing this doesn't make it easier to deal with grief. I guess that's the lesson. Nothing does. It is what it is.

3. Finally, what I'm still struggling to learn: life goes on. Not his life, but everyone else's. And I need to make a decision every single day on how to deal with that. As one father put it, "My other children are still growing up." We didn't get the choice on whether or not our children would die, but we are blessed with having other amazing, vibrant children to love the rest of our lives. I cry that Henry never got to go to school, but I will go this week with my middling on her field trip. I don't want to miss out twice. And I don't want her to miss out on having a present mom.

Being a bereaved parent hasn't made me a better person, but I'm different than I was.


Arlene (AJ) said...

Attending the bereavement group was good for your family, you'll never get over losing your darling Henry, but time will ease your pain, you'll never forget and that is good, but each day will hopefully make you reach for whatever it offers for you and your family. Yes, you'll see the world differently and will feel more compassion to what is going on in the world, grief is what is, that's for sure, but hopefully as time passes you'll feel more peace in your heart, you can't change what happend just keep moving forward and making the most of each day with your loved ones. May it comfort you to know I understnd your pain dear and keep you in my prayers.

A Doc 2 Be said...

Perhaps you don't see that you are different but others around you may.

Kind of like people who take Zoloft, etc and say they do not feel different yet those around them can tell...

No doubt Henry changed you... he changed those of us who never met him.

peny@medical uniform said...

"Being a bereaved parent hasn't made me a better person, but I'm different than I was."

Well said, Dr. Smak. It's normal for children to lost their parents early, but not that normal when parents lost their children early. When people feel a loss, then that loss unconsciously change their perspectives in life, just like what it had done to many parents who had lost their children. Personally speaking doc, I believe that if a thing or situation ain't kill you, then it will make you grow. Pain, somehow makes us think that we are dead, yet, pain in a mysterious way could make us grow and learn and be a better person, eh.

kasandora said...

I just lived through the giant earthquake/ tsunami mess here in Japan...I can understand this feeling...after suffering with friends and neighbors, everything is changed. I feel more now, and I see the world completely differently.

I'm still following you from afar....your knitting adventures as well :)