Dear Harlem Mama: Losing a Child

Dear Harlem Mama,
I cannot imagine surviving my child's death. Just the thought alone is mind-numbing. How does one cope with such a loss?
Numb

Dear Numb,
It is the loss of losses. The grief that shakes a human being's sense of humanity. It shakes the will to live. But we survive, if we allow ourselves to experience all the facets of this grief. I speak from the experience of knowing parents living with the loss of children. This type of pain is not something one should handle outside the trained, capable support of grief therapists. I strongly believe one's faith can help hold the frail pieces together. I also know that group therapy can allow one to find solace in people sharing the same pain. I think one of the best advice that I shunned a the time of loss was quite helpful but hard to fathom.

"In the darkest hour, in the hardest moment, find something to be thankful for." My response was anger. But when I thought deeply about it, I knew she was right. In the worst of times, if there is breath in my body, I still can give thanks.

In that moment of loss, giving thanks to all those showing love, sending prayers humbled me to give thanks for the best of human nature, when you can feel the prayers holding you up. When your grief overtakes you but a funny picture your child drew makes you choke on your tears with laughter. God has amazing ways of teaching us that our spirit self is stronger than our frail, easily broken physical self.

We find our true family and friends after the funeral. They keep checking in. They keep up the cards. They remind us that we do still live and that there is so much to live for, even after the greatest loss. Sometimes I remember Nature videos of animals losing their babies, particularly elephants and the big cats. As the herd or den moves on, there are animals showing support but also prodding them that they must keep moving. That might be the family helping a grieving parent leave the graveside.

God has positioned us to act as a family for those who grieve. Know as they face their darkest hours, they are never alone. For that, I always remember to give thanks.

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