There’s a website named Quora on which people post questions and the readers and members are invited to comment. A few days ago, a member posted a question dealing with a child’s death. The author wanted to know what to do to rebuild her shattered life.
The author’s teen-aged son had died suddenly of a hemorrhagic stroke. Now, three years later, the parents were as bereft and devastated as on the day he died. The author want to know when — if ever — the pain might go away.
These parent are locked in a stasis. They are in profound pain without comfort nor surcease. They are deeply depressed and stricken by grief.
I believe they’d like to move forward, but move forward to . . . where? I can say, from personal experience, the quickest, surest cure for this kind of depression is action.
If you too have lost a child, here are some things to consider.
Step One: I strongly recommend you both call Big Brothers/Big Sisters and volunteer your time. The children for whom you would serve as elder siblings are not young toughs that might murder you in your sleep. No. They are oftentimes kids who’ve lost a parent of the same sex and are suffering from the loss of that parent’s influence.
Back in the mid-1980s, I volunteered for Big Brothers but the shrink who evaluated my suitability found I didn’t have sufficient respect for authority so I was rejected. She suggested I volunteer for the county’s Guardian ad Litem program (a.k.a. CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate), acting on behalf of abused and neglected children — an activity from which I gained the knowledge to give this advice. I say this because the pecksniffs and Big Siblings can be excessively picky. Which means you might want your first contact with Big Siblings to be made through the filter of an officiant at your temple, church or mosque.
If you try the program and find you aren’t ready for this kind of involvement, you can easily drop out. If you like it and do well at it but still miss your kid like crazy, there’s Step Two. Call the offices of your county and tell the person answering the phone you want to find out about becoming foster parents. Yes, foster parents. They will be weepingly glad to accept you and will welcome you with open arms. Again, there’ll be various evaluations to make sure you have the moxie, stamina, right motives, right thinking and basic decency to do the job.
The county will go to great lengths to make sure you and your foster kid are a good fit. During this process, you’ll be presented with several candidates. You, the kid and the county will come to an agreement the fit is right, then you take the kid into your home and you and the kid are off and running. Also, there is usually a monthly stipend from the county. And services. Yes, services; like psychological counselling for both you and the kid — you aren’t left to sink or swim all on your own.
And I must now say this: By being foster parents YOU ARE NOT BEING DISLOYAL TO YOUR DEAD CHILD! After all, if you had, say, three kids and one died, would you not still love, care for and nurture the remaining two? Of course you would. No one would think you disloyal.
And this brings us to Step Three: Adoption. If you’ve fallen in love with your foster kid, and the kid’s fallen in love with you, adoption is clearly the right and logical thing to do.
In healing a child’s broken heart, you’ll be healing your’s too.
The pain you feel now will mellow into fond remembrances. Not only that, but you’ll have performed a true mitzvah and be eligible for induction to The Order of the Mensch.
And your dead child will be very, very proud of you.