The loss of a child is indescribable. There is no way to capture in words the pain and heartache that it brings. Bereaved parents often feel isolation, hopelessness, and guilt that is consuming. It seems impossible to see a way beyond it. I understand those feelings, as does each member of our Compassionate Friends group.
Our first child was born October 24, 2008. She was a beautiful girl whom we named Lael, which means “belonging to God.” She was a joy to our lives and we loved her immensely. At her 4 month check her pediatrician heard a heart murmur, and we were sent to see a pediatric cardiologist. At 7 months she was diagnosed with a rare and fatal genetic disease called Pompe’s. We began a treatment course with the hope of mitigating her symptoms so she would have a chance to live. On June 21, 2009, she succumbed to her disease after a difficult three weeks in and out of the PICU. Her death was a blow to my life, my marriage, and my faith. It felt so wrong to have my child die before me. It felt as if a part of me had died along with her, as she was an integral part of me even after a few short months of life.
There is no guidebook to surviving the death of a child, either in the short term or in the long term. No one tells you how to plan a funeral or how to rebuild your broken world. The greatest sense of comfort and hope that I got was from others who knew what I was going through, who didn’t need me to explain and educate on what it was like to lose a child, and who could show me that it was possible to survive this.
As the years have passed since Lael’s death, I have begun to find healing. I will always carry a deep scar but the wound on my heart is no longer open and bleeding. I can still easily remember the despair and horrendous pain of her death, but it is no longer at the forefront of my mind. That spot has been replaced by wonderful memories I have of Lael and new memories I have made since. I have found new joys in my life, and I have gotten used to what it is like to live with the pain of Lael’s death.
One of the most important steps I have found in healing has been to reach out to others who are facing the death of a child. It is my hope to offer hope to you if that is what you face, and I know there are many others in our Compassionate Friends group who feel the same way. My message to you is this: You have no choice but to walk this road but you need not walk it alone; others will walk it with you and we will help you find hope.