by Clara Hinton
Following the death of a young child everything changes. Probably the most significant changes that occur come from within the heart of a grieving parent. A parent will often feel so strangely different that the question will be asked time and time again, "Who am I?"
Obvious changes take place in the home when a child dies. Where there were four dinner plates at the table, there are now three. When riding in the car to run errands, one seat remains quiet and empty. There aren't as many jeans and dirty socks piled up in the laundry each week.
Grocery shopping becomes painfully different. In fact, it is almost unbearable to walk down the aisles in the supermarket that contained all of the "favorites." Watching other parents with their children walking through the store choosing favorite snacks and school lunch foods becomes too painful to bear. No longer are the everyday routines of life "routine." Even looking at the cereal boxes in the cupboard brings a flood of salty tears.
Losing a young child changes so much! Even the way we see things is so very different. We notice more details now than before our child died. We notice things like hair color and the hair length of other children. We notice the color of other children's eyes, and we remember how many teeth they are missing when they smile. We pay attention to the way a child talks, and we notice such things as whether or not there is a lisp. Before our child died, we were so busy that these little things passed by totally unnoticed. Now, the big things don't seem to matter at all, and all of the small details in life become immensely important.
Grief changes a person in every way possible. Often, fathers who went about rushing to and from work hardly noticing anything else now stop and stare at a butterfly and find themselves openly weeping. Many mothers who never worried about anything now find themselves to be overly protective, and they worry about every minute detail of the day. Grief places a different set of priorities on a parent’s heart, and it also creates an unexplainable fear.
Following the death of a young child, a parent will often cry out in frustration asking, -- Who am I? A parent in grief often reacts to others in open frustration and anger. Many parents say they withdraw from those who were their closest friends, alienating themselves from a much-needed support system. Grief brings about many new and different changes in a person!
Remember that eventually you will begin to enjoy life again. Little by little, the new you will begin to see joy in living. Your pain will not always remain so raw and open. Most of the time, grief brings about some very positive changes. You will have a different set of priorities, and many times the new you is more aware of what is really and truly important in this life.
Who am I? You are a person who has felt the pain of loss and who knows the joy of love. You are a person who has been forced into a place where you must make many difficult choices and changes. You are a person whose life is now governed by a heart that has felt immense pain and that makes you acutely more aware of the pain in the lives of others.
Most of all, you are a parent. Just because your child no longer walks this earth does not mean you are not still a parent. Who am I? You are a parent who will always love your child!
Clara Hinton is a Certified Grief Facilitator, founder of The Silent Grief Website, and the author of four books, including Silent Grief. She is the author of a weekly newletter and has contributed to Christian Woman and Church and Family magazines. Clara speaks on college campuses on grief and is a keynote speaker at women's retreats. She has been interviewed on radio stations across the nation and appeared on various TV programs. Clara is a stay-at-home mother of eleven children and wife of 31 years.
copyright © Clara Hinton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.