Saturday, April 16, 2011

You don't stop being parents when your child dies

~ I want to thank Susan Eliston-Throm from Apache Junction (who lost her 17 year old grandson in an auto-accident in 2008) for sending me the following article. Susan said she reads this almost daily to remind herself how important it is to continue "moving forward" for the sake of all those around her - She can't remember where she got it from, but she told me it was written by Michelle P in June 2010… So I trust Michelle won't mind us sharing it with you...

Michelle P. wrote: Denise Schipani once expressed how parents go on after the death of a child perfectly: “You go on, but you take a wildly different path.” If we are the sum total of our experiences – and losing a child is surely one of the most traumatic experiences I’ve ever witnessed – then what actually happens to parents in these circumstances is not only unknowable, it’s unimaginable.

Michelle P. also wrote: I watched my parents deal with the accidental death of my younger brother (he drowned at the age of 19), through the months when they were literally sick with grief, and the eight years since. They (as am I) are forever changed by his death but not necessarily in a negative or even regrettable way. And that’s because (and I’m not sure how to say this right) it’s not only in death that we were changed: that change actually began with his life – the fact that he died is only one aspect of who he was, just as the fact that my mother is not just a person who lost a son, she is a person who HAD a son for 19 years. And after working (and it really WAS work) through their grief, my parents choose to go on living full and even healthier lives partly as a celebration of his life. They see it as his inheritance, as something he’s given back to them, a way to make sense of his death – it gives even more meaning to their lives, to their identities as parents (because you don’t stop being a parent when your child dies).

I am incredibly proud of my parents for this: it is not only one of the bravest decisions they have ever taken, but it means that I have not lost them along with the future I would have had with my brother ~ by Michelle P.

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