November 6, 2012

When a Child Dies. ~ Melody Lima

Photo credit: Beautiful Insanity Photography

When a child dies from struggling with a long illness, somehow intellectually, there is an understanding of closure for that child who has suffered.

As yogis, we can almost wrap our head around this justification, believing there is no light without darkness.

When a child dies unexpectedly, it is shocking to the core.

The deepest sadness washes over you, transforming you forever. A part of you is broken, crushed, emulsified to a bleak nothingness that will never return to brightness.

In the community where I live, a family mourns the death of child—a young child.

When I first heard this tragic news, I thought it was a grandparent. Then it was confirmed to me what I did not want to hear. A young child died. I went into what-can-I-do-for-the-family mode.

Does the family need food? Do their other children need a ride? Can I put out their garbage? I did not know what to say, what to do or how to feel. There are no words to say, and I felt anguish, guilt, worry and anxiety.

My concern turned to my daughter. The family’s other children attend the same school with my girl. My parental responsibility heightened to guide my child through this sadness. We have been here several times this year mourning a friend or family member—too many times and here we are again.

I knew I would pay my respects at a formal wake or church service. I knew I really didn’t want to attend a formal public mourning with my peers. My peers being other parents like myself. Parents supporting parents filled with the heartache of a child gone forever.

I fundamentally dislike wakes, funeral homes and the business of death. I decided to attend the formal church service and hide in the back. I did not want to embarrass myself in public. I did not want to show my emotions to this family. I felt I needed to be strong for them. I was very confused emotionally about how to show my respect.

On a gloomy morning, the church was full and silent. Then the family arrived at the church, with the small white casket. The mother was a shell of herself, almost unrecognizable. The father barely containing his own pain while supporting his wife and other children.

I turned away from the procession of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends walking down the aisle. I recognized several faces of parents, teachers, town officials and police officers gathered together for the family. All I could think was, what are we doing here?

We are too young to say good bye to our children. Our children are too young to experience such a devastating loss. Why aren’t we celebrating our families at a football game or birthday party or a youth talent show? This is too much for all of us.

For the family, it is undoubtedly the worst experience of their lives, the loss of a child.

As I left the church in the pouring rain, I realized something—there are no answers, only more questions when a child dies.

(The details of names, ages and places are purposefully omitted out of respect to the family.)

Melody Lima is a yoga teacher and a mom who enjoys sharing her observations on and off the yoga mat through writing. She loves peaceful debate and good scotch. Visit her here.



Editor: Jamie Morgan

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