After Kaitlyn passed I was in the midst of despair and I did not know how I was going to survive. My life for all intensive purposes was over and there was no coming back. My feelings were that if my daughter was gone, there was no way I could go on living. I was not going to be able to endure this intense pain. In the depths of my despair, I became obsessed with two things: 1) Where was my daughter now? and 2) How did other parents survive this tragedy? My hold on life rested on finding the answers to these two questions.
The first question was probably the most pressing to me. As a parent, one of your most primal instincts is the desire to love and protect your children. When your child dies, even if there was nothing you could have done to prevent their death, you still tend to blame yourself for not being able to protect them. It is a terrible and unnecessary burden to carry but your mind still goes there, at least mine did. One of the ways, I began to deal with this thought was to try to comfort myself in trying to know what happened to her. Where was she now? Was she okay? Was she happy were she was?
As a Catholic Christian, of course I was taught that there was a heaven, but in my mind I could never quite grasp what heaven was like. People would come up to my wife and I and say things like, Heaven has another angel now, or She is in a better place now. These are not helpful things to say to a grieving parent as they just want their child back with them. I will talk more about what to say and not to say to grieving parents in a future post. Also at this point, I began to question my faith (Why would a loving God allow this to happen to me?) again subject for a future post. My focus at this point was to try to figure out where my child was and was their anyway that I could know for sure that she was okay.
I began to read many different books and listen to many podcasts, as well as watch movies about the afterlife and what it was like. The more I read and listened and watched the more I was convinced that there was an afterlife. The more that I was convinced there was an afterlife, the more comfort that I began to have that my daughter was okay. The more comfort I got that she was okay, the more I began to feel a connection to her in her new life. I began to feel her presence with me more and more. I began to realize that although her physical presence was no longer here, the love bond that I had with her did not die and I could still communicate with her on a spiritual level. This did not happen overnight, it was a long process and again a subject for another post, but the researching of the afterlife did offer me some hope and comfort that my daughter was okay and that I could still have a relationship with her.
When your child dies, everyone thinks they know what it is like. People would come up to my wife and I and say, I lost my grandparent, or my mother, or father, or friend (and even in one case believe it or not their pet), and think they can understand your grief. I am not trying to minimize their grief, as I to have lost some people in my life that I have loved very much, but as far as I am concerned losing your child is the most devastating thing that can ever happen to you. Unless you have lost a child, you do not know the what it is like to lose a child. If you think you know what it must be like, take that feeling and multiply 1,000 times. Only another grieving parent can know the seemingly unbearable pain of losing a child.
I also read and listened to anything I could from other grieving parents. I needed to hear from them that there was hope that I could survive this terrible pain that I felt. I also needed the comfort of knowing that I was not alone or crazy for feeling what I was feeling. The validation that they provided for me was a great comfort.
I hope that this post was helpful. If you would like me to email you some of the books that I read or podcasts or videos please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again I want to provide caution about your expectations though. Please don't think just reading a book or listening to a podcast will take all the pain you feel away. It will not, especially in the early days, but it does offer hope that things can and will get better if you continue to work at it and don't give up.