When a child dies there is an initial shock. It is a huge shock and time seems to stand still. The beginning is purely about survival. I think that shock is the only way parents can survive the death of their child. If we felt all the sadness at once we would never make it.
As time goes by the shock slowly eases up, in layers, and the sadness really hits. And it is like that horrible sadness hits over and over. The sadness comes from those little reminders around the house like their things, their seat at the table, their bedroom, and their pictures. Then as more layers of shock wear off you start to realize:
Life goes on as usual for everyone else
My world and my surviving sons world has been broken. But everyone else’s world keeps going. It feels so wrong! It feels like the entire world should stop when such a huge part of mine died. Yes others are sad too, yes they miss him, but it’s not in the same way. It’s not the same when it was your child, living in your home. It’s not the same for anyone else. That makes this journey the hardest.
As time goes by and more shock wears off a bit you start to realize things- his friends are driving and he should be too. His friends are getting jobs and he should be too. His friends are heading into their senior year, thinking about college. They are planning their lives but he is not. We, as his parents see every bit of that. Each milestone his friends reach is one he will never reach. And that is extremely painful to see. I’m so happy for those friends and their families as they do these things, but there is also a brutal unfairness that is excruciating.
I think this is why the death of a child alters the parents and siblings so much. Because it changes the future. It changes the way the future should be, the way we thought it would go. I don’t think our brains and hearts will ever fully understand that. This child should be here and he is not. That just doesn’t make sense.