In all the sadness, when you are feeling that your heart is empty and lacking; you must remember that grief is not the absence of love. Grief is the proof that love is still there. (Tessa Shaffer)
Many parents who have lost a child express their fears about losing another one. Ralph and Tina had not gotten over the incredible pain of losing their eighteen year old son when suddenly, the unimaginable happened—their fifteen year old son was killed in an automobile accident.
This couple in their late thirties was overwhelmed and devastated with an agonizing weight of emotional pain that was more than they could bear. This was the second time in less than a year that family, friends and neighbors came to offer their sympathies. Ralph built a fire in the yard; he chose to sit outside with family members and friends. The outpouring of love from those who came was good but pale in comparison to the pain he was experiencing inside his heart.
Ralph’s sister, Beth, was there and her brother-in-law, Eddie, came to offer his sympathies. When Eddie arrived, he greeted those he knew, said hello to Ralph and took a seat by the fire and said nothing else. He more than anyone else, knew the pain Ralph and Tina were experiencing. He and his wife went out one evening, leaving their younger children in the care of their older kids. No one could have anticipated what happened next. While the kids were asleep in bed their mobile home caught fire. All six children died.
Eddie sat there by the fire and didn’t say anything. Each time Ralph’s eyes caught a glimpse of Eddie sitting by the fire; he became more and more encouraged. Ralph began to realize that life was not over for him; he still had a wife and two daughters that needed him to survive this crisis. A surge of strength and courage passed through Ralph’s inner being as he thought about what Eddie had gone through and how he managed to survive. Ralph said to himself, “Somehow someway I am going to get through this.” That night Ralph found the will to live.
Abraham Lincoln, who experienced the loss of three children said, “In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, and truly believing it will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experience to make this statement.” A few years later Ralph and Tina went to the Troy’s home, a friend and neighbor, to be an encouragement to them because their child had passed away. They did not say much; wanting simply to do for the Troys what Eddie did for them.
Two years later Mr. Troy said to Ralph, “Because you and Tina came to my house after I lost my child, I was able to make it.” It was not what they said, but the fact that they were there that made all the difference in the world. “You never get over the loss of a child,” Ralph said. “But you will get through it.” “The reality is that you will grieve … over the loss of a loved one and learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same—nor would you want to” (Elizabeth Ross).