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Carol's Columns

Finding Meaning In Our Grief

After the death of a child, when we are in the depths of grief, it is hard to believe we will ever be happy again. We are overwhelmed by what used to be the simplest of tasks, yet we still have to function. Life continues on never missing a beat. There is no magic wand and there are no magical words for surviving grief. As we each find our own way, we must be patient and gentle with ourselves.

Grief can focus us inward. It is only when we start to look outside of ourselves that the healing can begin. In trying to accept my daughter Kristen's death, I realized loving always brings the potential for suffering. But what other choice is there? Not to love or to have someone to love is to me a greater suffering. We must not allow the love we have for our deceased child to keep us from the love we have for our spouse, surviving children, and other loved ones. We must instead, allow our love for them to carry us forward. Through them we can begin a new life.

In order to cope with suffering, which is a natural part of life, we each need to search out that which is personally meaningful. This is the greatest challenge after our child has died, but until we do, we will not be free from the pain. What helped me after Kristen's death was connecting with other bereaved parents. I didn't care what their degrees were. I knew that they knew what I was going through and seeing how they rebuilt their lives gave me hope to do the same. This is another reason why The Compassionate Friends, Parents of Murdered Children, Survivors of Suicide, Help After Neonatal Death (HAND), and Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) organizations help on an ongoing basis. We can all learn from and be there for each other as we repair our shattered dreams.

I have completed my memoir, Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare: How My Daughter's Death Has Taught Me the Meaning of Life. My book launch will be at Book Passage in Corte Madera on October 25th at 7:00. I hope you can all be there because I want to dedicate that evening to our beloved children who died much too soon. May they never be forgotten.