"While you are remembering the children of CT, remember too the families of the nearly 10,000 children who died this year from other causes, and the 10,000 that died last year, and the year before that. If you look around you, you will find families who are grieving the loss of a child, and while it might not be as concentrated and violent as the CT tragedy, it is just as real and painful to them."This was my Facebook post today, on the day that our nation has taken time out to memorialize the children and adults lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary / Newton, CT mass shooting last week. Almost instantly, friends "liked" and commented, and shared. You see, I am one of those bereaved parents.
6 years ago, we faced the unimaginable things that the families in Connecticut have faced this week. Choosing a casket for your child (they are so tiny; it breaks your heart a thousand times again). Choosing what to wear to your child's funeral ("I don't want to wear black, it's not appropriate for children, but I don't want people to think that I'm not grieving either"). Going home empty handed (How can I go back home without my child, but how can I be anywhere that they weren't?) Finding the lost shoe, the "baby's first Christmas" items that are no longer needed, the first "family photo" with an incomplete family.
|2007 - our first "family photo" without Ian. Preparing for it was very traumatic. We probably wouldn't have gone if it weren't for the fact that it was for our church directory.
And the pain never ends. There are first days of school that come and go with no new school supplies. There are birthdays celebrated in your heart only. There are anniversaries - first you count the days, then the weeks apart. Then eventually you mark the years without your child; it seems impossible that you have survived this long without them.
So, as you memorialize the families in Connecticut (and rightly so), take a moment to reach out to a bereaved family in your own circle. Newton needs lots of hugs right now, lots of prayers and support. So do the families you know. Your gift of a Scentsy Buddy, Thermal Tote, Snowflake or the like will be more meaningful to someone you know personally. Donate something to a charity in the name of your friend's child. Send them a note that you are remembering their child too at Christmas.
Don't worry that you are "reminding" us of our grief, we never forget.