A Bereaved Parent's Wish List - Taken from The Road Less Traveled...and edited to fit My Own Personal Journey
1. I wish my son hadn't died - It should have been me in his stead.. I wish I had him back again, to love, to hold, to get his great big "boy-hugs" every day...to kiss his sun-browned cheeks.... I wish I knew what he would look like today and what he would have become when he was done "growing up". I wish he would be here in 7 months to see his new niece/nephew born...I wish you wouldn't be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you as well.
2. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me. My child's death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, you spoke his name to me...the name we worked so long to perfect just for him...William Vincent Alexander Reynolds, when we get to tell or hear heart-warming stories about his life, then you have allowed me to share my blessed son with you by doing so and this is all a healing part of grief. I thank you for both.
3. I wish you wouldn't "kill" my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home or suggest that I should remove them from my home or his room…and please don't criticize me when I post photos of him or express my feelings for him or refer to special memories on his memorial sites online…
4. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn't shy away from me, I do not have a plague...I need you more than ever, though I often try to tell myself I don't.
5. I need diversions even though I must often avoid them because of the sheer physical pain that is so constant....but I need & want to hear about you; but grieving parents also need you to hear about them, and hear stories about their child. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child...that you wouldn't shy away from talking about my son, my children are my favorite topic of the day.
6. I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child's death pains you, too. It was nice when people would let me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big hug.
7. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months or even six years or sixteen years or even sixty years if I live that long. Those first months, even the first year were all very traumatic for me, but I was numb and in shock and really didn't "get" the awful finality and horror of it all until several years later when I was put on disability from my own car accidents and I only then had time to reflect and think and think about what had happened because I was no longer working 12-16 hour days 6-7 days a week just so that I wouldn't have to "think about what had happened"....so, I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over - it seems it has just truly started. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die. I will grieve for my child as long as he is dead.
8. I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.
9. I wish you wouldn't expect me "not to think about it" or to "be happy". Neither will happen for very long times so please don’t frustrate yourself by wishing me to be happy when I feel sad. Other's that have lost a child too have told me I need to "move on" or "that William wouldn't want me to be sad" but would he want me to "Forget him and go on with life as though he never lived? I CANNOT and WILL NOT do it....so please be patient with me if it is difficult for me to be happy like before or smile as much as I did before....because I feel sad and my heart is broken. And no...I hate pity and am not seeking nor do I want to have a "pity party," but I do wish you would let me grieve.
10. I must hurt before I can heal. You cannot heal what you cannot feel.....and know the healing is a life-long process, because grieving the loss of a child lasts the rest of your life...when I lost my parents...I lost my past...when I lost my child...I lost my future with him...and the present is now a daily journey down the road called grief that I never wanted or expected to take. No parent should ever have to out-live their child.
11. I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I'm feeling miserable so I try to stay alone when I'm feeling that badly...but please know that I isolate myself because of the pain I am feeling over the loss of my son so that others will not be "brought down" because I am down. I am trying to be respectful of my friends and even my family by doing this and it is not because I do not love you anymore.... Please be as patient with me as I am with you.
13. I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I'm having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I'm quiet and withdrawn or irritable and even angry at times....know it is not because of you at all...I am grieving for my only beloved son.
14. Your advice to "take one day at a time" is excellent. I wish you could understand that I'm doing good to handle his death even an hour at a time and sometimes even just one minute at a time…because sometimes the grief is so overwhelming that it is hard to even take a breath at times and I feel like I will suffocate under the heavy, powerful grip of grief.
15. I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a huge part of me died with him. My heart has been shattered and broken into a million pieces....I am not the same person I was before my child died...and I will never be that person again.
16. I wish very much that you could understand - understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. But I pray daily that you will NEVER, EVER HAVE TO understand…that you will NEVER have to know the pain of losing a child either through miscarriage, stillbirth, or death at any age….
17. Please know that while I will never, ever be the same person I was before my son died, I am striving everyday to obtain a “new normal” but it is long and slow in coming. Today is five years, 5 months, and 22 days since my son went missing and 5 years, 5 months, and 18 days since his car was found at the bottom of the gully on highway 49 under 8 feet of water after hitting an oak tree and rolling the car down the ravine into that icy water on that awful December morning...And PLEASE, No, DO NOT ask me if he was drunk or on drugs. He was not...the autopsy proved he was not and it hurts us to the very core when people ask us or even think it and tell other people that was what happened...He had only fallen asleep at the wheel on a long drive up the hill to his full time job, while in his first semester of college...he was just too tired to be driving that's all but it was enough....enough to change and break our family to pieces…..Even this long and it feels like just yesterday while at the same time feeling like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen his beautiful smile….had my last “boy-hug” and kissed his sun-browned cheeks….every moment of every day and sleepless nights I miss my son.
18. And last of all: Please do not tell me that I am setting my son up on a pedestal as an idol in my heart and that I am committing idolatry by doing this....I do NOT worship my son like I worship his Creator, my God…I only love my son and miss him here on earth...while I long for the day when we will all be together in Heaven with Jesus Christ and all of our family will once again be together, never to be parted again.