Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two Too Many: Gone but Never Forgotten

Meet Laura and Danny   

Every day, their mother, Phyllis, thinks of them...blows them kisses...
and carries on living without them.

When people hear that Phyllis has buried two children--her only children--they cannot imagine how she has continued on. At just 3-1/2 months, Danny was found unresponsive in his crib. Her sweet angel had been taken by SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.)  

As a 3-1/2 years old, Laura's awareness of Danny's absence was similar to his arrival, "Oh!" Phyllis does not remember being questioned or challenged with difficult behavior from her daughter. But the death of her son was devastating, and she received good support from neighbors and professionals, including job training for a fresh career that would carry her to retirement.

Phyllis worried from time to time, that others would question Danny's cause of death; was she neglectful?
This is a terrible burden on parents, and yet peer support groups such as The Compassionate Friends report that feelings of guilt are common for grieving parents.

Life went on.
Laura grew into a lovely, blonde, 22 year old with friends and a full time office job. Enjoying the freeway breeze in a boyfriend's car on a late summer evening, Laura lived only minutes after being struck by a laser-sighted bullet. The ugly, slang term, 'drive-by shooting' doesn't deserve a euphemism. A daughter, niece, granddaughter was murdered.

'Shocked and numb' describe the state Phyllis was in, standing in the funeral home, greeting a steady stream of acquaintances. One visitor, who truly understood the loss, introduced her to the national support group Parents of Murdered Children.

Again, for Phyllis, life went on, but...

Grief does not have an expiration date

 "If I don't take care of myself, I can feel overwhelmed. Just last Christmas, driving with friends, I heard Connie Francis sing "Baby's First Christmas," and I cried and cried. But most of the time, I feel like God has been protecting me -- that things could have gone another way."
 "I think of her every day, even now. I like to go to her grave on her birthday, if I have a way to get there [Phyllis doesn't own a car,] I would put flowers on Laura's grave."

Loyal friends

"Once a year, I get a call from one of Laura's past friends. We go our for a meal, and sometimes visit the grave. Danny is buried in another state; when I visit family there, we go to the infants section and I say hello."
In today's post, I will let Phyllis give the condolence advice:
"I haven't cut my children out of my life story, so please don't. If you're chatting in the office about parenting, include me-- I'm a Mom, too. Let me know that you remember my daughter and son."

Today's links also provide very good communication resources. You probably know someone who has lost a child, and maybe a lot of time has passed since you first gave that shocked parent a hug and handed them a card. Has this post prompted some ideas?

What can you do for that mom or dad, today?

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