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A lingering fragrance

>> Monday, January 2, 2012

Two years of sadness and painful memories. Along with that , the lingering fragrance of the sweetness she was. A short time where she filled our lives with a gentleness and warmth that touched all lives around her. Who are we to decipher the intricacies and madness of nature? If everything went on according to rules, probably life would have lost all its charm. Still, the pain it inflicts on those left behind is fathomless.

Everything good in this world reminds me of her. She was all the goodness wrapped in a gift wrap, and got stolen.

It is two years since Sheri has left us. It feels like yesterday, because her presence is so strong and the memories so gripping. It is painful to write, so I just put together some thoughts.

Death is the ultimate reality after birth, an experience that touches all members of the human family. Death transcends all cultures and beliefs; there is both commonality and individuality in the grief experience. When a loved one dies, each person reacts differently. A child's death, however, is such a wrenching event that all affected by it express sadness and dismay and are painfully shaken for the rest of their lives...

A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child, that's how awful the loss is! (Neugeboren 1976,

Children are not supposed to die...Parents expect to see their children grow and mature and outlive them. Ultimately, parents expect to die with the care and comfort of their children...This would be the natural course of life events, if the life cycle continued as it should. The loss of a child is the loss of innocence, the death of the most vulnerable and dependent. The death of a child signifies the loss of the future, of hopes and dreams, of new strength, and of perfection. ( Arnold and Gemma 1994)

Bereaved parents continue to be parents of the child who died. They will always feel the empty place in their hearts caused by the child's death; they were, and always will be, the loving father and mother of that child. Yet, these parents have to accept that they will never be able to live their lives with or share their love openly with the child. So they must find ways to hold on to the memories. Many bereaved parents come to learn that "memories are the precious gifts of the heart... [that they need] these memories and whispers, to help create a sense of inner peace, a closeness" (Wisconsin Perspectives Newsletter, Spring 1989).

Nothing can change the fact that this child is considered a part of the family forever, and the void in the family constellation created by the child's death also remains forever.

Parental grief is boundless. It touches every aspect of the parent's being...The range of expression of parental grief is wide. Despite the volumes of work on grief, the experience of grief seems to defy description... Definitions touch the fringes of grief but do not embrace its totality or reach its core...Grief is a complicated, evolving human process. Grief is a binding experience; its universality binds sufferers together. (Arnold and Gemma 1991)

The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open; this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude. ( Washington Irving, The Sketch Book ,)

• Parental grief is overwhelming; there is nothing that can prepare a parent for its enormity or devastation; parental grief never ends but only changes in intensity and manner of expression; parental grief affects the head, the heart, and the spirit.

• For parents, the death of a child means coming to terms with untold emptiness and deep emotional hurt. Immediately after the death, some parents may even find it impossible to express grief at all as many experience a period of shock and numbness.

But in time... nature takes care of it; the waves of pain lose intensity a little and come less frequently. Then friends and relatives say the parents are getting over it, and that time heals all wounds. But I seriously doubt any length of time will heal the wounds. This is a constant pain you don’t want to get away with. That pain reminds me of the best part of my life I shared with a sweet ,innocent child.

I love to nurture this wound, lest I lose the sweetest of my memories.


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