A Child is Dying

There are words written about grief that I cannot improve.  They are perfect, so they are included in this blog.  Credit is given.

No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. – C.S. Lewis

My 31-year-old nephew is going to die. He knows it, his parents know it, and I know it. He has cancer. He’s had the best treatments available. They’ve damn near killed him trying to cure him. Nothing is working. What now?

What do you say to a parent who is losing a child? I’ve not had the right words before and I don’t have them now. There are no words to ease the pain when a child dies.

Losing one of my children terrifies me. I know parents who have lost a child and I wonder how they can move, get dressed, go to work, answer a phone, sleep, get out of bed or even take another breath. On the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, death of a spouse or child is the number one stress.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross claims there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives, but the stages of grief are universal. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

After a child dies, most parents eventually reach the final stage of grief, they laugh again, and they live; but the vacancy and sadness caused by their loss never leaves. They have lost the future they would have had with their child. They have lost grandchildren who will never be born. They have lost the comfort they would have received from their child in their old age. They have lost phone calls, visits, funny stories, and laughter. There are no more vacations, holidays, or birthdays to celebrate with that child.

So, how do I help my nephew’s parents?  I look for wisdom and strength.  Following are some of the lessons I’ve learned by searching.

When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.  -Henri Nouwe

“The reality is that we don’t forget, move on, and have closure, but rather we honor, we remember, and incorporate our deceased children and siblings into our lives in a new way. In fact, keeping memories of your loved one alive in your mind and heart is an important part of your healing journey.” ~ Harriet Schiff, author

There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go. ~ Author Unknown

I pray and I think of them often.  I ask God to give my nephew and his parents a sense of calm and peace and acceptance.  I pray that their fear is lifted.  I don’t offer false hope or try to send them all over the country for second opinions.  I support any choice they make and condone any behavior I witness.  But, most of all I promise to never forget my nephew.

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