Tucked away in the inside cover of my Daytimer is a short article I clipped from a
newsletter thirteen years ago. It is ~ I must admit ~ a
piece of paper. The edges are crumbled and torn. But the words printed on that small scrap of paper are of great value to me.
It was not long after
that I found the article. It was written by a grieving father who had lost his teenage son. The father was responding to an innocent question often asked of parents after the death of a child.
Will you have another child?
Many wrestle to find an answer. As I companion young moms and dads on their grief journey, some share about the confusing emotions tied to that question.
~ Will having another child appear
as if we are replacing our precious child?
~ If we have another child
won't we have new fears of losing
~ What if having another child
causes us to forget the child we lost?
One young mom shared with me the fear that gripped her when she found out she was expecting again after the loss of her baby to
. Babies who die of SIDS leave may unanswered questions for parents. There are few known causes and a multitude of medical conditions that create the possibility for an infant to die of SIDS. And this mom, like many others, expressed honest, heart-wrenching emotion ~ how would she ever experience peace, knowing she could lose this precious one as well?
Some parents ~ their empty arms too much to bear ~ choose to have another child right away. (Let me say, there is no
to have another child - every one's grief journey is unique.) Yet, the birth of another precious baby will not take away the pain of losing a child. It may provide comfort for those who grieve. It may fill empty days with the joy of new life. But it will not take away the hole left in one's heart by the death of one's child.
And that brings me back to that scrap of paper, the article which so well explains that hole left in one's heart after the death of a child. Yet, it also teaches us about the sacredness of that hole, that
, as the author calls it.
His Slot is Full
Yesterday, a young teacher, a man who had known
Olin, Kathy and me over the years,
asked if we thought of having additional children,
and if we did, would they fill Olin's slot,
that empty space in our lives.
I answered as best I could -
that those parts of us that love are never empty.
Save but for the space they physically filled,
our children live, both spiritually and in us.
While I live, Olin is as recent as the moment,
alive and laughing, forever seventeen.
There are many slots in our hearts for others,
What I have and he took,
what he gave and I took
will never be lost.
Love is there
beyond the dust and ashes that awaits us all.
There will always be room for others,
but he has left no slot to fill.
Even amidst the pain and the sorrow,
it was never empty.
(Don Hackett, Hingham, MA)
After thirteen years of traveling my own grief road I can tell you that Scott's slot ~ the hole left in my heart by his sudden death at a young age ~ is still there, but IT.IS.FILLED! Filled with memories that feed my heart and soul on days when his absence still envelopes me.
These precious memories fill Scott's place in my heart and allow me to maintain a
with my dear son. Friends who are close continue to make deposits into his slot as they retell stories and let me know they have not forgotten.
It is all part of living with grief.