Monday, April 20, 2009

Dealing With Death

"Mom, I don't want you to die, I don't want to lose you. Please promise me you won't die."

This kills me.  My child has uttered these words in tears so often over the past 7 or 8 months.  He is eight and a half years old and most days he is a happy kid just doing his happy kid thing.  But there are other days when he is lost and my heart breaks for him.

Two separate tragedies, six lives. A whole community crushed.  

I hold him close, trying not to cry.  "Mommy and Daddy do everything they can to stay safe.  You will always be well cared for, we have made sure of this."

Over and over he asks me to make a promise, one that I can not make.  He asks this of me each time the sadness visits, as if the answer will change, desperate for a different answer.  I have not come right out and said that it is a promise I can't make, but I don't have to because he knows this.  It is why he asks, I'm sure of this.

Until now, death was something that had happened to Great Grandma.  She was 95, her heart stopped working.  She had lived a full and amazing life and had willingly left us to be with Great Grandaddy and God in Heaven.  We talk about her all the time, we look at pictures of her and remember finding acorns in the woods surrounding her house.  My son has a collection of those acorns and treasures them.  Each time I come across one, I hold it in my hand and feel alive and grateful.  She is with us all the time.  This is death as it should be to a child,  he remembers her, he loves her and she is where she is meant to be.

And now?  My heart aches, my eyes sting.  I am mourning the loss of those who left us before their time.  I weep for the loss of my child's innocence.  I miss my own friend and am haunted by the emails I still have filed away.  I hear her voice and see her face when I read them. 

I've spent the winter in a fog, a dull grey place.  Outwardly I am fine.  Inside I feel bad, so bad.  I feel guilt.  Guilty because there are others who are wounded more deeply than I and when I put myself in their place I gasp for air.  There is a burning sensation in my chest, it varies in size as the day goes on but it is always there, a constant reminder of something I must not forget.   

We go on.  Changed. Different.  My son at age eight, knowing death, loss, fear, pain and anger.  How is that possible?  Do I dare to ask why?  WHY?

I am surrounded by beauty and am blessed in so many ways.  I both fear and crave freedom from the veil that clouds my view.  How do I hold on and let go at the same time?  


11 Responses to "Dealing With Death"
  1. Nydia said...
    April 20, 2009 at 9:42 PM

    I came to check out your blog and thank you for visiting mine ... But reading this post struck me as today because very early this morning my boyfriend's beloved grandmother died ... It broke his heart and I've been on the verge of tears all day for him and his family ...
    My son has yet to experience death and it's emotional consequences, but I dread the day he will ... I know I'm naive in wishing for that day to never come, but I so hope it doesn't.
    Thank you for sharing this post ... my heart goes out to your and your baby boy for all the losses you've encountered recently ...

  2. Unknown said...
    April 20, 2009 at 11:27 PM

    We've only had family pets die, I shouldn't say only the kids take it very hard. But it's in no comparison as having a friend pass. You are a strong woman to hold this heaviness for your son.
    It would be ok to let it out in front of him. He knows.
    I am so sorry your going thru this. Theres never an answer to why. It only leads to more questions.
    I don't think you have to let go completly, just surrender your pain... just enough to see her fly.

  3. Queenbuv3 said...
    April 21, 2009 at 5:16 AM

    It's really heartbreaking once your child really understands the permanance of death. My seven-year old daughter is not only distressed by the thought of mom and/or dad dying but her own death as well. I tell her that death happens to everyone and that is why you should enjoy life and make the most out of what God has given you.

  4. Chelle said...
    April 21, 2009 at 7:41 AM

    My daughter lost her best friend when he drowned two years ago. She's been forever changed by his death. It doesn't get easier but it does get better. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  5. Aliceson said...
    April 21, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    A little boy in my daughter's class recently lost his father to cancer. The counselor came in and explained to class what happened but I don't think it hit her that it could have been her parents or auntie or uncle just as easily. I think Queenbuv3 said it best "It's really heartbreaking once your child really understands the permanance of death." So true. It sounds like you are doing the right things. Reassuring him that you do your best to be safe is huge. In turn he will learn to live a safe and healthy life and one day he will overcome this fear that seems to be gripping him at the moment.

    Hugs to you!

  6. Kathy B! said...
    April 21, 2009 at 12:13 PM

    I'm sorry for this inexplicable situation you find yourself in. I don't think you really can hold on and let go... I think you always hold on and eventually it just doesn't hurt as much...

    *hugs and prayers*

  7. Minxy Mimi said...
    April 21, 2009 at 5:16 PM

    WOW, what a powerful post. Its really not fair is it? Its not fair for a child to know such heartbreak and fear. My heart would be breaking. ((hugs)) to you. I am so sorry.

  8. Jenners said...
    April 21, 2009 at 7:25 PM

    I relate to much of what you wrote in this post. My son is only 4 and hasn't had any direct experience with death yet but he has asked about dying and I just explained it as that "you aren't around anymore." And he keeps telling me "I don't want to die. I don't want you and Daddy to die." And I find myself like you -- not wanting to lie but not wanting to lay it out there either. I tell him "You don't need to worry about that. It won't happen for a long long time." But then that isn't true either. It is very hard to deal with these questions and the emotions involved with them. Whenever he brings it up, it just rips my heart out. Good luck with your son. I feel for you.

  9. Jenniflower said...
    April 22, 2009 at 6:09 AM

    What a poignant post, thank you. My father died last year and it's hard for lil ones to understand permanence of death...

  10. Chef E said...
    April 22, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    I lost my only daughter eight years ago, and thought my grandparents death with in three months of each other was hard! Even though I went through a bad time, I continue to think of her friends that were devastated from her loss. She was a humorous delight to be around, and very caring (like mom), I also wish I could make that promise to her brother who misses her every just live day by day with lots of hugs, kisses, and be there for them no matter what they do or tell you...well within legal realms :)

  11. Stacy Uncorked said...
    April 22, 2009 at 3:50 PM

    What an incredibly powerful post - Princess Nagger asked for that same promise from me after she came home and told me one of her kindergarten classmates lost her mother in a car accident...of course I couldn't make any promises, but I did say the same thing you did - that she'll always be loved and always be taken care of...

    Like Kathy B! said: 'I don't think you really can hold on and let go... I think you always hold on and eventually it just doesn't hurt as much...' I agree...((HUGZ)) to you!


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