It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. A dad and his 2-year-old son were playing in the pool. The dad’s cell phone rang from inside the house. He jumped out of the pool to retrieve his phone, bringing it outside to talk. When he returned, he found his child at the bottom of the pool. He called for help and attempted to revive his son, hoping the paramedics would be there soon. The boy died in his arms.
As a mother was backing her car out of the driveway, she ran over her 5-year-old daughter, who was waving goodbye to her. There was no chance of survival.
These are just two of the thousands of tragic stories about how our children die before we do. Each death has a traumatic effect on the child’s parents and loved ones.
My own story of loss provides a peek into the emotional strength, fortitude, bonding, forgiving and peace of death.
Divorce is not easy on anyone. I’ve been there. Yet less than a year after my divorce, on April 22, 2015, my life as a parent changed forever. I got a call that no parent ever wants to receive. My child had been killed in a horrific accident.
This is where the strength of death overshadows all attitudes of divorce and any sense of pettiness, what is important today or what is scheduled at work. From my perspective, Abbie’s mom and I stayed together and bonded as closely as any two parents would. The realization that we had lost a precious life that we had created together as a married couple was unimaginable. And we would not be able to spend time with this one special little girl named Abbie again until the day we both pass on from this life.
The death of a child often reveals healing or disconnection for parents. According to Compassionate Friends, about 16% of couples divorce after the loss of a child. It’s an event that brings into stark focus the fragility of life, and how death can impact relationships.
Parental grief affects us all differently, and plays a role in how we respond to our loved ones after loss. This is true of men and how they grieve. I can express, show and tell anyone that men do care about their children, and about their relationships. A man will feel a hole in his heart after experiencing the devastating death of a child, and he will grieve in ways that are unique to him as a man and as an individual.
As a parent who is single, divorced or married, each of us has the choice that I had: Will I let the strength of death be used in a way that enables healing, forgiveness and a positive movement forward, or will I let it suck the life out of any relationship I have had or will have in the future?
If you have lost a child and are willing to share a story, please visit AJourneyWeShare.com for a new book we will publish in 2022.