Losing someone is hard. Losing a child is very hard. Losing a child unexpectedly due to a traumatic event is excruciating. Losing a child unexpectedly due to a traumatic event, which you later find out was quite possibly preventable, is devastating. Losing two children unexpectedly due to a traumatic event, which you later find out was quite possibly preventable, is beyond description.
(Please note: I am not trying to compare losses or saying that one is greater than another. I am just trying to help you understand what I have faced in trying to cope with my own losses.)
Which is why I really appreciated a link shared by a friend last week. It was written by a mother who had lost her son and shares what she has learned about that kind of grief. If you want to get a glimpse of what my life is now like, please read it (or for whatever reason because I hope that it helps many people–both those grieving and those who come alongside them):
Paula Stephens, the author of that article, talks about these things related to such a loss:
- “Remember our children.
- Accept that you can’t “fix” us.
- Know that there are at least two days a year we need a time out.
- Realize that we struggle every day with happiness.
- Accept the fact that our loss might make you uncomfortable.”
“Grief is the pendulum swing of love. The stronger and deeper the love the more grief will be created on the other side. Consider it a sacred opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with someone who has endured one of life’s most frightening events. Rise up with us.”
In case you hadn’t already figured it out about me, I have become obsessive with advocating for safer roads because I will do all within my power to stop these senseless tragedies. How I wish that ours had been prevented!
And I am obsessive about preserving memories of AnnaLeah and Mary. I hate that their lives are frozen in time while the rest of us go on. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. So, it isn’t that I am putting them on a pedestal; I just want them to still be a part of my life–one way or another.
And, if it seems like I’m not handling it very well, ask yourself how you would be doing if you were in my shoes. I hope that you never are.
Here is what I wrote about this topic not too long ago: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/05/how-a-truck-crash-changed-the-month-of-may-or-what-happens-when-nobody-takes-responsibility/
By the way, my friend who shared that link with me, Lauri Drosendahl, only knew our family for six months before the crash that took Mary and AnnaLeah–from November 1, 2012 — May 4, 2013. But, because our two families spent lots of quality time together during those six months, and were our church family, they were and have been a lifeline to hold us up. Along with countless others.
Here you see Lauri’s family with AnnaLeah and Mary (Mary is filming the fun and you can hear her laughing and see AnnaLeah laughing):
Lauri walked with me through the sewing of Rebekah’s wedding dress–with Mary as my model at each step along the way. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.475812149167971.1073741844.464993830249803&type=1
Lauri’s husband, John, preached the sermon at their second funeral in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Mary & Leah–a sleepover in Rocky Mount
After the funeral:
The Drosendahls at Woods on the Lake.
And Lauri was the inspiration for my completing the first of two quilts with squares from the girls’ clothes.
I think that I am forever changed. I hope you all understand.