Things I Learned From The Loss Of My Child
The loss of a child, at its core, is every mother and father’s greatest fear. It is unspeakable, unimaginable, and something I would not wish on any human soul. Since the loss of my own boy Benjamin to suicide in 2009 at the tender age of 18 after a lifelong battle with his inner demons and mental health challenges, I have become unfathomably aware of how many parents lose their children.
We have a saying in our world, one of the many myths I have discovered since the loss of Ben through my own healing journey and work as a grief recovery specialist. “It is unnatural for a parent to outlive their children.” And yet, since the beginning of time, for far too many today, it is a reality. When it happens to you, you become indoctrinated into a club that you never asked for. I will never forget another mom and dad arriving at my home just hours after Ben’s suicide who had lost their daughter at 15 a few years before. They said, “Welcome to the club no one wants to belong to.”
Our children leave us in a myriad of ways. Some young, some older, some to cancer, accidents, self-harm, and war. Children die! And you will never stop grieving them. I have come to know that grief is the natural response to loss. And whether we have lost a child, a pet, a parent, a grandparent or any other of the numerous losses that happen throughout our lives, loss is part of the journey here.
Loss of one of our precious babies is like the loss of no other. If you know a parent who is bereaved, please know that advice is not helpful. Love, compassion, and an open heart with ears is the best medicine you can bring. Give them permission to share about their child for as long as it takes, which is likely a lifetime. If you ever lost your child, would you want others to tell you to forget about them? Move on? It is not natural or even possible. Just be there.
Not a day goes by that I do not think about my boy. After 11 years and until my dying day I will be forever grieving him. The loss of his presence, the birthdays, special moments he will never have, and we will never have with him, the children and grandchildren that will never be born, the missing of his presence at his sibling’s special times. His loss is not just a moment in time, an event that happened and is now done, over. Generations have been altered with his parting. There will forever be a missing link in the fabric of our family, an empty chair at our table and a hole in our hearts.
As hard as losing Ben has been, I am not banished to a life of misery. It took time to heal and climb out of the devastation of his loss, which was followed by the loss of my two sisters Lynn and Candace and my mom. But it has taught me…
Many Wonderful Lessons
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Be eternally grateful for every moment I have on this gracious planet with my other two children, Michael and Jenna.
- Be fully open to, feel and embrace the immense beauty and joy of this life to the core of my being.
- Don’t take anything or anyone for granted.
- Love big, even if it hurts.
- Love more.
- Give back.
- Make every moment count.
- A deep knowing and profound evidence that spirit lives on and can communicate to me long after the physical loss of those I love.
- My life is blessed beyond measure.
- Being a hand in the dark for others to move forward is an honor and a gift.
- Some of the boldest and brightest souls I have ever met are bereaved parents who go on to help others by creating change.
- Life continues and is enriched by every soul I meet.
- Grief is a part of life.
- Death is a profound teacher.
- I would rather to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all.
- I miss my boy. I will love him forever. I will never, ever forget him.
Judy Giovangelo is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist trained in a 30-year method through the Grief Recovery Institute. Her niche is to support grieving mothers and fathers as she lost a child herself. Visit www.judygio.com