“I feel like a shadow. I’m a fraction of my former self. The days go by, and I hardly notice them. Everything is a foggy blur,” Wendy shared.
Wendy’s son Luke was born with cerebral palsy. Wendy vowed early that she would give him the best childhood possible. Luke did well. He was friendly and engaging. He loved people and animals. The sheer weight of caregiving wore Wendy down, but she delighted in it at the same time.
Pneumonia cut Luke’s life short at 15. Wendy was devastated. Not only had she lost her son and only child, but she felt cut adrift and purposeless.
“Luke was my life. Who am I now? I’m lost,” she said.
We can feel lost
We can feel lost when a child dies. This is natural and common. So much of our lives were wrapped up in them, whether they were minors or adults.
We knew them all their lives (unless of course, we adopted them later). We watched them grow, learn, and mature. We delighted as they moved from stage to stage. We met their joys, obstacles, and pains with them.
Our lives become so intertwined, so connected, that it can become difficult to separate ourselves from them – especially emotionally. Parenting is thrilling, scary, challenging, hard, fun, and exhausting. If our child had disabilities or special challenges, extra forms of caregiving get added into the mix.
No matter who they are, however, we instinctively know that our kids are vulnerable. We provide for and protect them. We nurture hopes and dreams for them.
So much of our lives revolve around our kids that whenever one of them exits, at whatever age, they leave a huge, gaping hole in our existence.
Who are we now? Why are we here? What’s next? These are important questions.
No wonder we can feel lost.
“I love you so much. I feel lost without you.”
Some possible action steps:
If you’re feeling lost or purposeless in your grief, you might want to consider one or some of the following:
Talk. Share. Write. Tell your story.
Adapted from the newly released bestseller, Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child.