Sunday, March 04, 2012

Better or Worse?

Last fall, a young woman I know was facing a very bleak prenatal diagnosis for her son and she wrote to me ask for my thoughts on facing a loss:  would it have been easier if he'd been a baby? for instance, a question she acknowledged might be terribly insensitive but which I thought was appropriate under the circumstances.  Below is what I wrote back to her in part. (Challenges remain, but the baby is doing much better than anticipated.)

And OK, even with the pain of losing Thomas was it worth it to have him with us? Oh yes, oh yes. We are the richer for having had him in our lives, even though it was cut short. I'll go further and tell you that even with all of the pain, his death also has brought us some blessings we would never have looked for or missed if we hadn't had them but which we can recognize now. I will also say that of all of my children, he was the one who felt most like he was "on loan" to us: he had the most health problems as a kid (repeated ear infections with high fevers, and then anemia that they were never able to explain--one of my cousins died of leukemia which left the rest of us always wary of these things), and then a depression at age 11 that left us sleeping with our door open . . . but he recovered from all of this for a reason. And I must say, that just having had those experiences, I was grateful for every day we had him (even when I wanted to throttle him for failing to do his homework!).

Good memories do help but they don't balance out anything or erase the pain. Losing an infant is a different grief I think. There you grieve a future lost--with a young adult, he had already done a lot of things, made his personal mark on the world. I don't know that it would hurt worse, just differently.

One last thing: when I finally connected with another Gold Star Mother about six months after Thomas's death, both of us acknowledged one thing that made it bearable: with his death, the anxiety I'd felt for him disappeared. We'd both worried about our sons and now they were safe in the arms of our loving God.


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