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Living After the Death of Your Granite

By Elaine Schaller

The sudden death of a child is anguish personified. Who can tolerate the unanticipated shock of this new reality? It is enough to destroy anyone. It certainly almost destroyed me. In 2007, my daughter died suddenly of a ruptured brain aneurysm at the young age of 33 while training for her first Ironman.

There are no simple answers to easing this profound sadness, but there are some suggestions I would like to offer. I am not a professional, but merely a mother who traveled through this tunnel and emerged to see light at the other end.

First, see a grief counselor as quickly as possible. If you cannot afford to pay the fees, there are many social agencies (i.e. Hospice) that offer sliding scales or no charge at all. While these professionals have not necessarily sustained personal losses, they are skilled in listening and guiding you through your journey.

Second, consider joining a support group. There is some level of comfort gained by being in the company of others who have lived through the same tragedy. These organizations generally meet once a month and welcome the newly bereaved with open arms. You can find local chapters on the Internet.

Third, record your feelings. I wrote a letter to my daughter every day for the first year. Spilling your emotions onto a page can help bring your sadness up and out of you where it belongs. You can start a journal or a series of letters or some simple train-of-thought entries. These pages need never be read by anyone else. They are simply a method of bringing you some relief.

Later on, try to find a way to help others. If your child died as a result of a disease, join forces with a research foundation to raise awareness and money. By throwing yourself into something positive, you may find some benefits that will stave off your sadness and help you deal with it.

These suggestions are just that. It takes tremendous courage and determination to travel through this journey of grief. The very first step is to decide if you really want to be happy. It is easy enough to think, "What kind of mother am I to be happy when my child has died?" That Survivor's Guilt can consume you for the rest of your life if you let it. At some point, you will have to let go of this struggle and accept your child's fate and yours as well. Your child will never return, but you can place your loss somewhere in your heart and live with it.

No parent should ever lose a child. Yet, many have and continue to live. Look to them for inspiration.

Elaine Roberts Schaller, author of "Dear Cindy, Love Mom: Letters of Love, Loss and Life" and co-founder of TeamCindy at http://www.TeamCindy.org


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