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How do I get over the pain of unexpectedly losing my 30 year-old daughter?

20 answers | Last updated: Aug 12, 2014
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An anonymous caregiver asked...
My 30 year-old daughter died unexpectedly, although she fought major illness throughout her life. She leaves an eight-month-old child. How can I get past this incredible pain? I keep yelling at God.
 

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Caring.com User - Martha Clark Scala
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Martha Clark Scala has been a psychotherapist in private practice since 1992, with offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco, California. She regularly writes...
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answered...

There are those who say that the loss of a child is the most difficult of all, so it makes sense that you are experiencing incredible pain. In fact, most See also:
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grieving parents would probably say that you never completely get past a pain like this.

The challenge is to learn to live with your pain, and trust that it will become less intense over time. That involves attempting to stay as present with all of the feelings that are coming up for you.

The mistake many people make is in trying to disclaim or just get over their natural feeling responses to sad events. But attempts to simply get over difficult feelings may actually even prolong them. So, if you are feeling mad at God, or just plain mad, let yourself feel mad. Write in a journal about how you feel, talk about it with other people--especially if you know any other parents who have lost a child--or talk to a religious counselor, such as a minister or rabbi.

Consider contacting The Compassionate Friends, a national nonprofit organization devoted to supporting families in the aftermath of the death of a child. You might also find a book that specifically addresses grief due to loss of a child particular helpful. For example, try When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner.

Here is hoping that the presence of your grandchild helps you sustain your connection with your deceased daughter.

 

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Granny2Grandsons answered...

Dear Martha,

The pain you are feeling will never go away, you will learn how to :cope with it". I lost my 17 yr old son 17 years ago and it has not gotten any easier. I went through feeling - if only I had been a better Mom, if only I didn't allow him to go, if only . . .

I too, was so mad - but I didn't know who to be mad at since the driver died as well. The two brothers - one thought my son was next to him in the ambulance but it was his brother. That brother later died years later in a very horrible incident, a crazed person who shot him in a parking lot of a shopping center.

God, I prayed every day - "who can I be mad at for losing my son, my buddy". Months later, I realized that God chose to give His son, then I realized "how can I be mad at God"?

I miss my son every day - how greatful I am that we had family portraits done 2 days prior. My son was my buddy - my daughter has nothing to do with me. She has two beautiful sons but recently told me I wasn't allowed to see my Grandsons! She uses them as pawns. I think it is because of her resentment of her recent divorce and I just happen to be the one to take things out on.

How I wish I could tell you things will be better. The only positive thing I can say is that she left you with the most precious gift, her eight month old child. Take the time to be with the child and Dad, they need love and support as much as you! This child will help heal when you play, read a book, or whatever. Children have a way of taking your complete attention. I raised my Grandsons from infancy to age 3 - it was the best therapy! But that "luxury" is gone since they are older now.

Sending a very tight hug and many, many prayers!

 

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janetm answered...

Dear Martha When my son was 16, two days before school was starting for the year, he was hit in the chest while playing basketball and died of cardiac arrest. Death of a child hits hard, really hard. Many families break apart from the strain of dealing with the death of a child. My husband and I were fortunate enough to have the capacity to talk out our feelings and console each other. Some of the things that seemed to give me the most comfort was to write to my son in a journal . Whenever I thought of something that I wanted my son to know or to share with him I wrote to him. After a few years I realized that I had been writing less and less. No, I did not forget him. I was healing and dealing with his loss. At Christmas each year we put a small battery operated Christmas tree at his gravewith decorations that we placed on it to remind us of him. (Invariably the lights last through the New Year when we take it down.) On his birthday we take balloons and fresh flowers to his grave and spend the day celebrating his life. Try to keep the negatives away from your thoughts and memories of your daughter. Those feelings will keep you down and cause more stress in your life. Try to focus on the good things that you remember about her and that wonderful little child that she has left for you to love. Tell her little one how much you loved your daughter and all the fun times that you had with her. Postive feeling only grow stronger and beget more positive feelings. Pray to God for the healing powers that you need. You will find the things in life that make you smile again. Trust me.

 

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Jade1961 answered...

Dear Martha, Where do I start to tell you that I do know how you feel. I too lost a child, my 6month old Daughter. She passed from S.I.D.S over 23 years ago. I still have moments of grief especially on special occasions. Several years after her death I was in an abusive marriage and had a miscarriage due to being beaten so badly & was told I would never give birth or conceive a child. Well, they were wrong. I was angry about the loss of my daughter, angry at a man who would beat a woman etc for a very, very long time. The one place I found solace was with God. He never left me, no don't mistake what I say, I left him in anger but he always picked me up. He gave me the courage to leave an abusive relationship. The strength to travel to a foreign country on my own & there I conceived my son. He is now married to a wonderful girl who is much younger than my daughter would be but she is also now pregnant with their first child. They are having a girl :-) I never told my son what his sister's name was as I didn't see the need for him to grieve for someone who passed well before his conception. They are naming their daughter the same name I gave mine so very many years ago. Through God, Peace, Understanding and a feeling of comfort will come if you ask. You can scream at him too ... he understands.

Please let me leave you with this small thought. My Daughter passed over 23 years ago, I still cry ... I know she is with God and that makes me stop crying and celebrating her very short life. Try it honey ... it cannot hurt. Sending Great Big Hugs & remember love the little one she left you. Your grandchild is a gift.

 

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cisca answered...

oh boy this is so hard... a child is not to die before the parents ! how u get over this ? i can't tell u , i can and will pray for u for strenght to go on in ure life ! i am sure that's what she would want u to do ! so sweety....even i don't know u ? u are in my prayers and in my heart !

 

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MOM 3 answered...

U UNDERSTAND HOW YOU FEEL LOOSING YOUR DAUGHTER. I LOST MY DAUGHTER 3 WEEKS AGO FROM A LONG ILLNESS AND IT IS STILL HARD TO BELIEVE. SHE WAS MY OLDEST AND ONLY DAUGHTER. I HAVE TWO SONS AND I HAVE TAKEN THE LOVE FOR HER AND PUT IT INTO THEM. I TALK WITH HER AND LET HER KNOW I AM THINKING OF HER. THE HURT NEVER GOES AWAY. ONLY A MOM WHO LOOSES A CHILD CAN UNDERSTAND HOW A MOM FEELS. MY DEEPEST SYMPATHY TO YOU ON YOUR SIDS TRAGEDY AND YOUR MISCARRIAGE. I AM VERY HAPPY YOU WILL HAVE A GRANDDAUGHTER NAMED AFTER YOUR DAUGHTER. I AM HOPING MY GRANDCHILD WHEN I EVER HAVE A GRANDDAUGHTER IT WILL BE NAMED AFTER HER. MOM3

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

Martha: I can only say I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. It is true, no parent should outlive their child. No it is not fair, but life, unfortunately, is not.

My daughter was murdered when she was 22 years old. The killer has never be aprehended. The reason, remains unknown.

I was put on medication by my doctor. I guess that helped, but it does not make you deal with it. I joined every group I could find. There was one grief therapy group that I found only 2 years ago. I wish I would have found this group sooner.

I learned from the group that the loss of a child was the worst loss of all. But, I also learned from the group, I am no one to judge someone's else's loss. The man running the group told me to write a letter to my daughter telling her whatever I wanted to tell her, and tell her goodbye. I did that. I still have that letter. You see, I guess, I finally accepted she was gone.

I would have loved to have a grandchild, but I have nothing of my daughter to hold on to. You do, so cherish your grandchild, you have her to always remind you that you had a daughter.

My daughter was killed 13 years ago. There is not a day goes by that I do not wake up thinking of her and missing her. I do not cry as much as I did, but I do cry, as I am now.

So, besides joining grief therapy groups the only thing that will help is TIME.

Also, to show how crazy I got, and needed love, as I got a divorce, I have 26 dogs. I bought four and rescused l4 from a puppy mill, and then people started bringing me more. They give me such love and I do them. They are my family now.

Try and stay strong. I was angry at everyone, including God, and then one day, I said "I am tired of being angry" and went to confession, as I was raised Catholic.

I wish I could help you. You must be thankful that you have a grandchild, as she is part of your daughter. My daughter and your daughter would want us only to be happy and not cry. Your daughter would want you to be strong for her child.

I have no fear of death, because I know I will see my daughter again.
I will pray for you as I pray for strength everyday and night.

I also keep myself so busy, I do a lot of volunteer work. It does not give you time to think so much.

 

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Renie Green answered...

Our daughter, Kara, died unexpectedly five years ago. She was 31. She was married for 10 years, but they had no children. She was a gifted and talented piano player and musician. Fortunately, our whole family believes in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and heaven, so I have a lot of peace about seeing her again. At first all I did was weep. It was a terrible haunting cry. Gradually, I cried less, but I still cry 5 unexpectedly years later. It is especially hard around the holidays. She passed away on December the 5th. I am blessed to have 2 other children and 2 grandchildren. It is a happy/sad time when they play her beloved piano. All 4 of them are blessed with great talent! I still use medication for depression. I see a therapist and I go to a support group. I have a loving and strong Church Family! My husband and I have many friends who are there for us and that is so helpful. Even in the midst of all these positives I still get lonely at times. I still have her wedding pictures hanging up, even though her husband remarried 18 months after her passing. I still hang her stocking up at Christmas. Santa fills it with canned food for the homeless. I do Volunteer work in a Hospital and at my church, I write in a journal (but not daily), and I think of our family as a family of five! Each day I miss her, but try to do something for me, too. Lean on God, he lost a son, too. Think of Mary as she watched her child die and find comfort in that. Be strong. Keep your sense of humor and don't feel guilty for laughing!

 

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Granny2Grandsons answered...

Dearest Renie,

I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. I just thanked you for sending me a prayer but didn't even realize you and I "wear the same shoes".

My only son, Charles (Chuck, Chuckles, Charlie) has been gone for 17 years this past June. He had just turned 17 in May. He was the most caring, loving, and "best buddy" to so many. For months, I didn't know who to be angry with because the driver also died. All of a sudden one day, I finally realized that God chose to give His son! How could I possibly be mad at God or anyone else for that matter!

I was so lucky to have had family portraits done two days before the accident - they had already been rescheduled 3 times! He was 6' tall and I am only 5' tall. If I needed something up high - he wouldn't hesitate or make me wait for him to help me. To this day, if I think I'm going to climb the kitchen counter - I still hear - "Mom, get the step stool". I literally felt and heard my heart break when told of the accident. There are so many times I feel so lonely, felt so guilty (if only I had been a better Mom, etc) and not only the holidays are hard but so are May and June along with Halloween when we would dress up to scare the older kids!

Dad was gone 6 months later (5 in 9 months - all on my side of the family) - Dad thought Charles was "all by himself". While my brother and I took care of our Mom during May 2005 - Mom gave me two "Words of Wisdom phrases to say daily" - 1) Be strong and stay busy (it's a lot harder than I thought) and 2) Find some Joy in today and if you cannot find it - make it! That meant to make someone else smile, laugh, or help them out - just do something for someone else! That one is the easiest for me. No one knows the pain in my heart for being the sole survivor of my childhood family - Mom said that I was her "emotional child". My brother (called him Bro) was gone unexpectedly 20 months after Mom. I was so numb but then remembered what Mom had told me.

I am so very thankful for this website - it helps me tremendously! It gives me comfort and I hope in time, you will feel the comfort from visiting this website. We are blessed!!

Sending tight hugs and prayers

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I would agree that the pain of loosing a child never goes away, but you learn to deal with the loss. I lost both my husband and then my child in the last 7 years and some days I have all I can do to pick myself up in the morning. I've realized over the years that it is OK to have good and bad days and not to push myself to do things that I'm not comfortable doing or ready for. It's OK to be mad at God, I still have those days, but I do think that God has plans for us that we may never understand until we reach heaven. Try to surround yourself with people who know and love you and that aren't pressuring you to be happy or move on with your life. You will deal with grief the way you need to. Loosing a spouse feels like the worst pain that you will ever feel until you have lost a child. I think because the love we feel for a child is unconditiional and a part of us. I've often heard it referred to as loosing a limb. I wonder if God made the loss of a child so painful because he wanted us to understand the pain he felt after loosing his own son. Also, Don't try to analyze the 5 stages of grief. You will never follow these stages in order. I'm not sure who came up with that, but anyone who has lost a child will agree that you will jump around stages depending on your mood and how you feel that day. One day at a time. God bless.

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

As a mom who lost my 20 year old son nearly 2 years ago, I can appreciate all these answers and heartfelt comments you all gave. I don't think you ever get over losing a child or for that matter anyone you love. You learn to live with the the loss.

The only thing that really bothers me is the constant GOD refrences. I do not believe in a made up man in the sky, if there was a God who created all this heartache for only some of the people on this earth, then he should be punished. The starving children in Africa, the wars, the cancer in small children, etc...... Let us learn to deal with things without the easter bunny, santa claus, tooth fairy, god.

 

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Jersey Mom answered...

I lost my 34 year old daughter 2 years ago. She had epilepsy since 8 months old and always took medication. We went through difficult years but shared enormous love. In our immediate family (dad, mom and the two daughters) we had come to the comfort of believing the neurologist who assured us that if our daughters seizures were controlled adequately with medication she could live a long life. We monitored her meds very carefully. Our daughter somehow had a severe seizure and must have smothered in her sleep. We could not bear to have an autopsy and had her buried the third day after her passing.

The only sibling is five years older and is also broken-hearted. She thought that her little sister would live with she and her husband later in life when I would have passed away. My eldest's entire life has been loving and sharing care for her sister. Our lives are so empty without her. All through our lives we would three say "each of us is the air we breath" when describing to others how we felt about each other.

Our daughter/sister was so kind, caring, never judged others, never held grudges against those who made fun of her and loved everyone who crossed her path. She was generous to a fault. She suffered so many humiliations by children and adults because she was somewhat slower than they. But, my precious child would be the first to run up and comfort even one of her protagonists. She was my constant companion. She went to work with me every day and volunteered. We rode and sang in the car together every day. We shopped together and even bought the same outfits in different colors. She was my buddy.

The pain creeps into every day. I share happy moments with my eldest who has always been the other side of my heart, but joy is both muted and fleeting for both of us. We are both married and try not to stress our husbands. They too miss our sweet girl.
I am trying hard to find my way back to God but find it very difficult. I had lost my own mother when I was only 2 and heard my grandmother say many times how "losing a child is the worst thing in the world." I was always anxious about losing anyone I loved from childhood, suffered three miscarriages and when this my second living daughter became ill at eight months old I was in a panic. Just when I started, when she was 34, to relax a little, the rug was pulled out from under us. I went to wake her up for a planned day of walking in town at the end of summer to knock around in local shops, eat lunch and have ice cream (which she loved) to discover her gone forever.

The pain and loneliness almost smothers me. I want to run and run and scream sometimes. Living is difficult but I know I must help my living daughter get through this period. I also know as a Catholic that in order to spend eternity with my two girls I will have to hold onto life until HE is ready for me to leave. Sometimes, I feel that life is a punishment not a blessing. I know that it would be mentally crushing to my surviving daughter if anything were to happen to me , so I put one foot in front of the other and "live."

I have not been able to really pray because, I am not sure sometimes if God hears us anymore. But I want to pray for all of us who have suffered this horrific loss to find some peace, somehow. I will try tonight. Just sharing has helped me. Thank you!

 

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JudyCanet answered...

The answers on this page have been very helpful to me. My 20 year old daughter died suddenly last April of septic shock as a result of MRSA, a form of Staph. She died within a day of entering the emergency room, she/we thought she had the flu. My goodness this is so difficult. I cry every day. I just don't want to be this sad forever, nor would she want me to be, but I really see no light at the end of this tunnel. I have returned to work, I work in Social Work, and find it difficult to feel the rewards I previously felt. It is hard to look forward to anything, nothing sounds fun or exciting or even interesting, I don't want to give up, I keep telling myself I will feel better eventually, but frankly have a hard time believing it.

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

All I can say is that I have no answers for you. I lost my son two years ago and am having extreme difficulty with this. I feel lost every day and really have not been able to fix this. I feel nobody understands and I don't know where to go from here. Take care

 

janetm answered...

I lost my son in 1997. He was hit on the chest and died while playing basketball with a group of 16 other boys. I know your pain and your anguish. I wrote a journal to him whenever I needed to talk with him. I also relied on my faith to help me through. There is a book that also may be of guidance-Psychic Children by Sylvia Browne. It answered the only question that I had about my son's sudden death.

 

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imissmymike answered...

I lost my most precious son Mike to suicide on October 6, 2011. I created a website in his honour www.michaeldavidedwards.com which tells his story.

I found a poem - author unknown - that has helped me when other people expect me to get back to 'normal' which may be of some comfort - it was to me.

Don't Tell Me (author unknown)

Please don't tell me you know how I feel, Unless you have lost your child too. Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal, Because that is just not true. Please don't tell me my son is in a better place, Though it is true, I want him here with me. Don't tell me someday I'll hear his voice; see his face, Beyond today I cannot see. Don't tell me it is time to move on, Because I cannot. Don't tell me to face the fact he is gone, Because denial is something I can't stop. Don't tell me to be thankful for the time I had, Because I wanted more. Don't tell me when I am my old self you will be glad, I'll never be as I was before. What you can tell me is you will be here for me, That you will listen when I talk of my child. You can share with me my precious memories, You can even cry with me for a while. And please don't hesitate to say his name, Because it is something I long to hear every day. Friend please realize that I can never be the same, But if you stand by me, You may like the new person I become someday.

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

I too, am grieving the loss of my daughter and raising her 4 yr old daughter, which brought me to this site. Yes, I was angry too. I also felt absolutely helpless as if I were bound in rope & forced to watch her drown in quicksand. I even wondered if I was being punished for past misgivings. We watched her suffer from a painfully aggressive/terminal cancer and the deadly, disfiguring & horrifying effects of conventional "treatments" she underwent. I had such sorrow & disbelief I was beside myself. It has been three months since she went to live with God and I still sob sometimes inconsolably. I know I need to find a healthy and positive way to process this deep sense of loss. Although her passing was somewhat bittersweet it is still such a stark and painful reality that I really have to work hard towards my own healing. I am not a devout church goer (organized religion is not my cup of tea) yet the entire experience of her illness/death led me to seek a relationship with God that I had not had before. I have derived some comfort from my talks with the Creator. I cling to the hope that my comfort will come in Divine doses (and thru prayer) given time and the belief that although her physical body is no longer in this realm, she is whole again and no longer suffering, her essence/spirit is and always will be here within me.

 

Joy E answered...

I feel so sorry for you. I lost my 48-year-old daughter in April last year She took her own life, and I know I will never feel the same again. I miss her SO much! One of her friends gave me a beautiful poem which I want to share with you:

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free, I'm following the path God laid for me. I took His hand when I heard His call, I turned my back and left it all. I could not stay another day to laugh, to love, to work, to play. Tasks left undone must stay that way, I've found that peace at the end of the day. If my parting has left a void, then fill it with remembered joy. A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss; ah yes; these things too I will miss. Be not burdened with times of sorrow, I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow. My life's been full - I savoured much, good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch. Perhaps my time seems all too brief, don't lengthen it now with undue grief. Lift up your heart and share with me, God wanted me now He set me free. ANON Realising that my daughter took her own life, I take comfort from what one of my best friends said at the time. I asked many people to pray for my daughter, but she had told me she didn't want to live any more - she had had enough of this life. My friend said God did not appear to answer our prayers, but He did answer hers. I take comfort from the thought that she is now at peace and is safe in the arms of Jesus. Rest in peace my darling.

 

aurum answered...

My 13-year old daughter passed away in December two years ago. An OTC drug administered to her by the school nurse resulted in a fatal allergic reaction. She could have survived if she arrived in the hospital on time. But the heavy traffic due to the Christmas rush made her suffer from a cardiopulmonary attack. The hospital managed to revive her vital organs but massive damage to her brain brought about by lack of oxygen caused her death two days later.

It was terrible. I only have two kids -- a boy and a girl and my girl was my constant companion. She was a very sweet and fun-loving person who would often shower me with hugs and kisses. Losing her was really devastating. My legs would turn to jelly and my heart would feel like bursting whenever I think of her. I couldn't believe that my perfect life would be shattered all of a sudden. I wanted to die too. But I would think about my husband and son and the desire to end it all would fade away.

However, never did I get mad at God for what happened. My faith taught me that mankind came from Him, thus, He has all the right to take back what is His. God knows what is best for my daughter. Who am I to question Him?

After the initial mourning, husband and I decided that we couldn't allow the situation to affect our marriage and our son. We didn't want our son to be deprived of our attention and love just because we were in pain.

So we had to deal with our grief. For my husband, it meant going to her grave every day until he came to terms with her death. For me, I devoured every self-help book I can get my hands on -- books to uplift the spirit, books about people who suffered the same loss, books on faith and spirituality.

Together, we constantly prayed to the Lord to ease the pain and help us move on. We went on with our family routine. We had our house renovated and all furniture replaced. We talk about our daughter constantly. We tried our best to inject laughter into our life because we cannot allow the heavy feeling in our house to persist.

During the first few months, I cried a lot but I only gave myself five minutes to pour all my pain. After the allotted time, I would again compose myself and put a smile on my face. From daily crying fits, it became weekly, monthly, and now I hardly do so. Not because I don't miss her anymore. If ever, the longing is much stronger. It's just that the pain is hardly there anymore. I could now look back at our times together and smile when I remember her antics. Sometimes, I ask the Lord to bring her to my dreams and whenever she does appear, I wake up feeling very light and happy.

Losing a loved one, especially a child is not easy. It takes time, a strong support group, lots of prayers, and a will to move on and be happy to survive such an ordeal. It is a challenge and just like any challenge, it can be surmounted.

 

PVW answered...

I too lost a child. My daughter was tragically killed in an auto accident at the young age of 24. She was a registered nurse and just completed her Batchelors degree of science in nursing. The accident happened a month before she was to receive her diploma. The university was gracious and presented her diploma to me at the graduation ceremony. The ten year mark is coming up in September. I close my eyes trying to see just how ten years have passed. The pain will never go away although is it much better. I still cry for her, oh my how I miss her. After the first three years of horrific pain and suffering I realized I could not live like this anymore. I wanted my life back and I wanted my self back. For sure I am not the same person; I am much stronger. I will never the happy person I use to be but I am happy. I can laugh again, sing, dance and love unconditionally. I have two sons and one step daughter along with three grandchildren. My daughter didn't have any children yet. I put all my love into my family and like some one has posted previously, my grandchildren have been a god send. With out them I do not think I would be at the place I am today. My marriage stayed together but at times it was rocky..until we both knew what we had to do to survive our loss. As all of us who have lost a child we would give anything to have them back. We know wits not possible and we must go on with our lives. People are always telling you "she would want you to go on". Well of course she would and I did after time realize that is true. Our child knows we loved them and miss them. I cry often still but I have control now. I live my life knowing one day I will be with her. Instead of living my life always wanting to die so I could be with her, I now live my life to live and live happy as I possibly can for me and my family. I was mad at God for sometime but God is the one who has helped me grow through this terrible loss. I can set and smile when I think of by beautiful and loving daughter. I get sad over the things we never got to do..ect...you all know. TIME is truly the ONLY thing that makes it bearable. I do as much as I can keeping her memory alive. Scholarships, heart walks in her memory. I have candy machines placed in business to help supplement the scholarship..anything I can possibly do,to keep her memory alive. It feeds my soul..over time I found as well that one must be easy on them selves thru the grieving process. It is hard enough. I hope my post will help some grieving parent. It has helped me today posting. My love to all of you and I wish you all the luck in your journey.

 

 
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