Death of a Child - How Life Goes On

Filed under: Opinions

Some wounds heal over time and some never do. They just stay below the surface until something re-energizes them. That's the way it is with losing a child. The death of Jett Travolta, the son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston, has reopened a lot of wounds for other people who have lost children. Just read the comments on my previous post on the subject and you can hear the lingering pain in the voices of those who know what John and Kelly are going through.

The natural order is broken and the pain is unbelievable.
I remember holding our own daughter, Ashley, as she breathed her last breath. A spot of her blood got on my shirt; I still have that shirt. I don't wear it but I don't want to get rid of it, either. Parents like us hold on to whatever we can to keep the feeling that somewhere our child is still alive.
We've found that traditions really do help and are part of the healing. Every year we go and have lunch out by her grave. We stop at the same grocery store, let the kids (I have two surviving daughters, ages 14 and 11) pick out whatever they want, and we have a picnic with Ashley. We had some wise friends that gave us money to buy a fruit tree in memory of our daughter and planted it in our yard. So every fall we have apples from our Ashley tree. We took a page from our Jewish friends and light a Manischewitz candle on the day she died. The flickering light comes through our bedroom door all night long, and really makes it seem like part of her is still with us.
So what should you do if one of your friends loses a child? Meals are a great thing. Not even I felt like cooking. Don't give advice, just listen as much as possible. (Someone actually said to us in the midst of everything, "God must love you very much to let you suffer like this.") Be aware that men and women grieve differently. Women often feel it right away, but men deny and repress the emotions until about six months later. So, in six months call the guy and offer to go to lunch, talk about the death and be there for him. For him, it's just becoming real. We need to think about John this coming June.
For John and Kelly, my prayers go out to them. I can't make them a meal or listen, but I do have people here in MInnesota that I can do that for. Maybe that's how we all can help.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.