Our little town – and the world – has suffered the loss of another remarkable young lady, and another mother has joined the most horrible club on earth: the club of grieving parents.
I am so very sorry for this woman whom I have never met. She lives in my town. Her daughter was friends with my two teenagers. We have mutual friends, friends in common. We are – fortunately – surrounded by the same loving, caring, supportive community, and because of that she might survive this horrific loss.
I say might, because the loss of one’s child is the most horrific loss anyone can withstand. The pain never goes away, the wound never completely heals. Everything, absolutely everything constantly reminds the bereaved of the magnitude of her loss.
I lost my only child (she was my only child then – I have since adopted a family) nearly four years ago. The pain is still excruciatingly fresh. I still can feel her touch, hear her voice, her laughter, smell the fragrance of her hair… I still see the hospital bedside where she took her last breaths, hear the machines keeping her lungs filling so she could live long enough to donate her organs and save five lives. I still remember the monstrous day of my daughter’s car crash. It’s like a horror movie in my head, replaying often and never at will. I wish I could forget that day – the day that ended my daughter’s life, and ended my life as I knew it.
But the memory replays frequently.
And now, another mother begins the same horrific journey. She is in hell right now – I know because I was in hell for a very long time. An important and large part of me died when my Ava died. I know how hard it is to hang on. I know this mother is trying desperately to hang onto herself, trying to find a shred of herself to hang onto – because as her daughter’s spirit leaves this earth, a great deal of her own spirit is firmly attached.
How do we survive? So much is gone when one’s child dies — so much more than “just” a child. A mother’s identity is embedded in that of her child. We live for and through our children. (I speak for mothers because I am one. I know a father’s loss is incredible as well.) Parents’ futures are tied to their children. When that child is no more, the future is erased. All the “looking forward tos” are wiped out: no engagement, graduation, wedding, grandchildren, etc., etc. It’s all just gone.
So much dies when a child dies. Hopes, dreams, futures, identities, plans, promises, laughter, togetherness, friendship, shared experiences, connectedness… She’s gone! How can we possibly continue without her?
But somehow we do… I found a way. Rather, I am finding a way, because it is a continual journey and a constant struggle. I know I will never be truly “healed,” I will simply get better at living with the chronic pain. I hope and pray for this newly bereaved mother that she finds a way too.
We all grieve differently and choose different paths towards healing; however, it is essential to somehow find purpose and meaning, something to get up for in the morning. We survivors try to find purpose in life, create something good out of the horror. We strive to build something positive out of the wreckage of the grief. Meaning out of chaos, if possible.
My hand is out in friendship to this mother, if she needs a companion on the grieving road. It’s a path I know well.
God bless the spirit of Breanna Tharp. Bless her mother Ellen, and all her family and friends. I am broken hearted for you all.