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In-between time brings sadness, chance to help others

By Sherry Hopkins

Community Columnist

Early October until early November has been an in-between time in my life for nearly 50 years.

Oct. 4, 1974, 45 years ago, my oldest child, my only daughter, died. That same year, on Nov. 6,  she would have been 5 years old. This year she would have been 50.

I can tell you that without a shadow of a doubt that she has been sitting at the feet of Jesus for all of those 45 years. She is safe, whole, happy, content, cared for, and loved beyond measure.

Despite that, there is only a part of me that finds solace in that thought. The greater part of me has never missed a day, or a second, wishing she were here with me. I know it is selfish to want her with me. But I indulge my selfishness.

Perhaps it is the only thing I have ever indulged myself with. I have always held myself to an impossible standard, criticizing acts and thoughts and words that I should have said or done differently. Wanting my child here is not one of those things.

Many of my friends have experienced the loss of a child or a grandchild recently. I have found no other grief that comes close. My grief has found its place in my life, but it is always with me. Time does not make it easier, as some will say.

Memories have faded, and I scarcely remember the sound of her sweet laugh, or the twinkle in her eyes, but the grief of those days still stings greatly, an open wound that never heals.

I know this does not offer comfort to those who are fresh in their loss. But it is real and true.

Don’t be alarmed or afraid when the days and months and years slowly pass and you are still there in that devastating moment. It is OK. You will find peace and comfort in snippets and eventually you can think of your child without becoming overwhelmed. It is OK.

As I write this now, more than four decades later, my heart skips a beat and I have tears in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach. But it is OK.

You have lost one of if not the most important parts of your life. You will be sad. You will curl up in a ball. You will be mad at God, you will rail against the heavens, You will ask “why me?”  But, as time moves on and you began to slowly live again your child and your loss will become a deep, deep part of you that death cannot take away.

That is the brighter part if there should be a brighter part. Memories will live on long past the day your child stopped living. You will find more comfort in those memories. Allow others to share memories they have with you. Talk about your child. It will bring you comfort. No one who hasn’t experienced you loss will understand fully, but talking with others will minister to you in loving ways.

Let others reach out to you, pray for you and with you. Talk to God often. Ask Him to help you with your shock, and anger and sadness. He understands. He also lost a child. He will provide comfort to you and hope to you as well.

Think of your child in positive and funny ways. And eventually let the grief finds its place in your own life. Respond to it when it calls to you. And remember whatever you feel at any moment is OK.

You must go through this in the very best way you know how. A sense of peace may come for you, but it also may not. Find your consolation in that. Have no expectations. It is OK.

My thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of you.

Stay tuned.

Readers may contact Sherry at swhcsc@wildblue.net or 662.563.2525.