I spent my lunch hour yesterday corresponding with parents who have lost children.
A mother whose infant daughter was stillborn. A father who lost his son shortly following an emergency (and premature) Cesearean delivery that became necessary when his wife was involved in a horrible car accident. A mother whose 11-year-old son died of an “intercerebral hemorrhage” of unknown cause. And a mother who lost her 18-year-old son during a robbery, when he was shot and killed. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was senselessly murdered, just like bright, brown-eyed Christina Green of Tucson.
A lot of bereaved parents wrote to us after they saw Mary Ann Bashaw’s January article, “Finding Purpose in Grief: The MISS Foundation Offers a Light at the End of Life’s Darkest Tunnel.” Many of their letters will be published in our February issue. I can’t think of a better tribute to the victims of Saturday’s tragedy in Tucson, when 20 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, were shot and six were killed, including 9-year-old Christina, who was there with a family friend who knew the young student council member would be inspired by the presence of a role model.
The parents who wrote thanked us for “breaking the silence” on what one parent termed “a tender subject.” For some of these families, their terrible losses occurred years ago. And yet their grief is always there, always part of them. So they know all too well what will soon befall the loved ones grieving small Christina.
For now, the community has rallied; the media is attentive. The family’s shock and the outpouring of support blunts the real blow that will occur in the years that loom ahead, when each day requires them to wake up and miss their daughter all over again.
Christina’s memorial service will be held at noon Thursday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson. Many, many people will be there, most of them dressed in white to show their support.
I hope that many of them will still be there in the weeks and months to come, providing support, talking about Christina, sharing their love and comforting this family for as long as it takes. Which really means forever.
Resources for grieving parents
A Phoenix-based organization that provides crisis support and long-term aid to families after the death of a child at any age, from any cause. Also active in legislative and advocacy issues, community engagement, volunteerism and education.
Parents Of Murdered Children Valley of the Sun Chapter
Offers support for persons who survive the violent death of someone close as they seek to recover.