When You Lose A Child…

you lose a part of your heart 

Me and my kids in the late 70's

Me and my kids in the late 70’s

Shortly after this picture, I got a divorce and for the most part raised the kids on my own. They were my everything. My life. I loved my kids and wanted to see them grow up and become adults and have kids of their own some day. If you have never had kids you can’t understand how something so small grows inside you and becomes this human being so full of life and love. And so begins the heartache it can also bring.

I have had many people in my life who I’ve loved and many I have lost. My Dad passed away when I was in my 40’s. My Mom died 2 years ago and my sister Rhonda 6 months after her. All of these losses were devastating at the time and I am still dealing with the pain from them. After my sister passed I was lost. I had no immediate core family. I was an orphan. But I did have family. I had my 3 kids and my  5 grandkids. And I had my sister’s two girls who I think of as my own. It was a little surreal going from having a parent or parents to being the head of your family. But it was enough.

A little over 2 weeks ago that changed. My son died. He was 46 and had 2 beautiful children. He was a wonderful, loving man and even more a wonderful father. He loved his kids more than life itself. They were his everything. He never had a good role model in his own father, who chose not to play a part in his life, so he vowed to be the father he never had. And he was. He was a very loving person who would do anything for anyone, sometimes to his own demise.

This loss is still not registering in my heart. My brain knows it is true but my heart is having a hard time coming to terms with it. I expect him to burst in the room at any minute with his latest stories. But he doesn’t. I just can’t process that he is gone and I will miss him every second of every day until I take my last breath.

Dave was forever telling me he loved me and showed me in so many ways. He was never afraid of showing his feelings. I remember back when he was a kid and was going off to Y Camp, he hugged me and kissed me in front of all his friends. I thanked him and said I was proud of him for doing that and he couldn’t understand why. He was always doing things like that.

He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved kids and animals. He always had a love of little kids and they were somehow drawn to him. But he loved it and never tired of playing with them. He was in many ways a big kid himself. He loved becoming an uncle and loved his nephews so much. He was always tumbling around on the floor with them or chasing them around the yard. But the day he became a father was the best time of his life. His daughter and son meant the world to him. He was so very proud of them and how they loved and treated each other. But also evident was their love of him. Their eyes sparkled and their entire little personalities changed when he would walk in the room. They idolized him.

Dave and his 2 kids

Dave and his 2 kids

Our family’s lives changed forever that day 2 weeks ago. It altered the very core of us. Who are we now without Dave? How do we go on as a family without him? I love my family and I am so blessed to have my 2 awesome daughters and my 5 equally awesome grandkids. I know I am lucky to have them all. But there will forever be a hole in my heart. And I don’t think I can fix that. I do plan to honor him by keeping his memory alive in his kids and will spend the rest of my life doing that. It is the one thing I “can” do. His kids are young and I don’t want them to forget what a wonderful father he was or how much he loved them. I promise to keep your memory alive Dave, it is the last thing I can do for you, my son.

I know I will go through many emotions in the next weeks and months ahead. Right now it is one of disbelief. I hope I can just get to a place where I remember the good times we shared and feel at peace.

I leave you with a question and a quote.

Have you ever lost a child? How did you manage to go on?

“You son will hold your hand only for a little while. But he will hold your heart for a lifetime.” ~ Unknown


32 thoughts on “When You Lose A Child…

  1. What courage it must take to write so beautifully about your son when you feel sooo sad. You are an exceptional person who loves and is loved. I have not ever understood WHY life can be so painful and beautiful at the same time. There are so many WHY’s? David’s life will remain strong in spirit through you, your daughters, and your grandchildren. That hole in your heart is a reminder of loss that can only be filled with love and memories of your son. E

    1. Thank you so much for your comments Edie! You have been here for me from day one and I appreciate every single minute of it. I love you my friend!

  2. Hugs Renee, these next couple of years you will become a great actor. Hang in there, it will never be better but you will learn how to cope, cause you have to. Enjoy your grandkids , they will help you remember him. The waves of grief will come father apart as time goes by. Use the holidays to remember him. I suggest not to go to place that you had a special time with him. The grief there will be overwhelming. I went to a ice cream place we went to about 9 months after Pennee died and it was not good. I wish that someone would have told me that, which is why I’m sharing that with you, give yourself time. Hugs

    1. Thank you so much Pat for sharing with me. I know this isn’t going to be easy and I appreciate everyone sharing their stories and love. Hugs back.

  3. This is a beautiful tribute to Dave, Renee!! I can only imagine how your heart was breaking as you wrote it. You can be so proud of who he was & the legacy that he left behind – you had a huge influence & were a wonderful, caring Mother. Thank you for sharing with us what a wonderful, young man & father Dave was. Hugs!!

    1. Thank you Dinah! It is helpful for me to write about Dave. I love telling stories about him and I will continue to do that. It Is how I will honor him. Thank you again.

  4. I think of you and Dave a lot since he died. The day of his death I went “through the motions” for everything. Opening the car door and thinking, “What am I doing?” “Where am I going?” Back home in my kitchen I do not remember how the groceries got to the counter. I can’t even imagine the degree of your shock and loss. You are doing a magnificent job of honoring Dave’s memory.
    Dave endured many ups and downs in his life, but his love for his children shone through despite all of his difficult days. Eight years ago I bumped into him at Weis Market in the check out line and asked him about newborn Savannah. He quickly reached and opened his wallet to show a picture of a teeny tiny baby. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man so happy and proud to show off his beatiful child.
    About 15 years ago I went to a summer concert in Baker Park. I walked through the crowd on the path and heard a soft, “Hi.” I looked over to see Dave walking past me, unsure if I would remember him. I gave him a hearty, “Hi Dave!” His look of relief was so sweet. I then asked him about your whereabouts and he guided me to you and Shelly in the grass. I sensed he’d been through some difficulty and wanted – like anyone else- acceptance. He faced many obstacles in life and I know tried, as best he was able, to deal with and rise above them. Your unconditional love through his journe,y to find his way, was the constant for which you should be very proud.
    I also find writing theraputic. If you can’t speak with someone at 2:00 a.m., at least you can put your thougths on paper to release them and feel some comfort in knowing they are “out.” When I went through my yuck 16 years ago, I did a lot of wriitng. I still have these writings. I also kept a separate journal for all the things and people for which I am grateful. Your name is in this “Good things and special times” journal. You’re a beautufil and very special woman and I am so fortunate to know you. You picked me up and carried me through a very painful time. My heart hurts that you have to endure this never-ending pain. Perhaps when and if you’re able, it would help to create a journal of Dave’s countless positive loving actions. I am very sorry for your deep loss and wish I could find a way to fill the hole.
    Please know, Renee, I will never-ever forget Dave. I love you and am so grateful to know you. xxoo

    1. Beth, Thank you! What a beautiful tribute to my son Dave. He really liked and respected you. Thank you so much for being there for me and my family. I love you so much!

  5. Dear Renee When we have someone that gets in a dark place in there lives it is so hard because as Mom we think we fix anything, sadly not true. I know a lot of us have had thought adult children issues but I am so terribly sorry that Dave was taken from all of you. I know from your post that he was a special young man. Please go to meeting them help do it for you. Love and Hugs

  6. Renee, I haven’t lost a child, but my husband died unexpectedly five years ago, so I can tell from your writing that you’re still numb. As the reality sets in, you’re going to need some big shoulders to lean on. Are you a woman of faith? I am, but other than believing my husband was in a better place than I was, it was tough for me. It was harder six months after he died than the week after. I did draw strength from the grief audios of Belleruth Naperstek. She’s the founder of Guided Imagery and very well thought of around the world. You can download her audios onto your electronic or mobile devices. They helped me tremendously. You’ll be in my prayers, Renee. Wishing you all God’s blessings. Brenda

    1. Thank you Brenda! I am a woman of faith although I must say it is hard to have it right now. My son was in a very dark place recently so I feel he is at peace and that gives me peace. I am considering going to some grief counseling and groups. You are right I am numb but I have to be here for his kids! Thanks again Brenda! I will look into the Guided Imagery videos.

  7. Renee: Thank you for sharing pictures and stories of your son. That’s a very difficult loss, one I haven’t experienced. I have a few friends and a couple of relative who have lost children. From their descriptions, it’s very difficult. A college friend who lost her son processed her grief by collecting quotes from books written by grieving family members. She interspersed them with personal essays. She draws a lot on her faith, but she’s also very literary. I found the book to be powerful. She’s led some firesides and workshops with other people grieving a loss of a family member, particularly a child. Her book is called Loss and Living Onward. People take different paths in how they process their grief, but if this seems to fit your needs, send me an email or FB message and I’ll mail you a copy. Hugs and Hugs.

  8. There are no words that I can find for losing a child. I am sorry that you have lost your son. Somehow, you will find a way to go on. I did. I’m not sure how I did, but I did. Bless you.

  9. Renee, I wish I had words that could comfort you! I’ve lost a brother and my mom. My son had a heart attack two years ago, which he recovered from. It put me in such a state of despair! Even though I rejoiced at his recovery, it constantly reminds me we can take nothing for granted and that love must be given and shown freely.

    Be well, my Dear! Know there are prayers going out for you!

    1. Thank you so much Jo Anne! It means a lot to me to have so many people reaching out to me..Hope your son continues to do well.

  10. I can not even imagine what you are going through. You were a great Mom to Dave and provided the example for him to be a fantastic Dad. Dave was a good soul and he loved you and his sisters more than anything. Dave was one of the best Fathers that I have ever known and I know the kids were his life. Hoping that all the love and support that has been sent your way will provide some comfort to you as you continue to deal with your tragic loss of Dave. Love you..

    1. Thank you Mary! He was a good soul and we were blessed to have him as long as we did. All the love and support has helped all of us. And writing this helped me! Love you too, my friend!

      1. Keep writing…I know it’s cathartic. It’s amazing how many others have lost a child no matter what their age…Everyone keeps telling me to remember the good times and that is a positive thing to do. Life is precious and can be tenuous at times….No one escapes unscathed….Take care…

  11. Oh Renee, I cannot imagine what you are feeling and how you are getting by. I know we have friends on FB who also have lost a child and I just can’t imagine their lives either. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my son. He is my LIFE and I love him more than anything.. My heart is with you sweetheart, every day, honestly. I know this blog had to be a difficult one, but you are a strong person. I love ya sweetie. Keep strong and as you said,show those kids who he was and how much he loved them. God Bless.

    1. Thank you Susie! It was hard to write but I can at least get my feelings out, some people don’t have that luxury. Writing helps me! And I sure am going to let his kids know he loved them.

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