Thursday, June 23, 2011


This is the time of year when people are vacationing, pulling out their maps and deciding which way to go-north, south, east or west.  Familes are packing their bags and leaving their houses for routes and planes and adventures.

What happens to the family that has lost a child?  Do they vacation, do they explore their world or do they stay at home within the safety of their four walls? Yes, yes and yes.

Traveling, venturing the world after a parent loses a child changes and keeps changing.  Right after DJ passed away we didn't go anywhere at all.  We barely went to dinner out with friends let alone a vacation.  Before DJ's death we were like a lot of families, we went on vacation at least once a year and enjoyed having all three kids cramped in a car traveling about.  After DJ's death all the joys changed.  The world was a scary place, an exhausting one as well and to travel about was too much work and had too many memories attached to it.

I have interviewed other parents that couldn't stand to stay at home.  After their child died they traveled all the time, the house was too quiet and the loss was the most obvious when they were home.  They chose to be gone any time they could.  One mother I know has gotten off one plane only to grab a suitcase and get directly on another one. 

On the otherside however I have inteviewed parents that do not leave their house even years later. It is too scary of a world to be out in it. The parents don't want to go and travel without their lost child with them.  There is no joy to be found in the world when their child is gone.  Too many memories, too much pain--it is easier and safer to stay at home within the bounderies of their new normalcy without their child.

Are any of these actions wrong? Are any of them right? No, No and No.  It depends on the family, it depends on the time their child has been gone, it depends on each and every individual and no way is perfect or right or wrong.

A home is four walls.
A home is where the heart is.
A home is a place of refuge.
A home is too big.
A home is full of too many memories.
A home is a place of pain.

So when all of you out there in cyber world are planning on vacations and perhaps are wondering why the bereaved parents you know don't seem to go anywhere anymore don't judge them.  They are working through their life with a new set of rules being rewritten daily.  Everyday something comes up that they have to do without their child and taking a vacation is a big one. 

Our family has taken two vacations in five years and each one of them was tough, we struggled with going or not going. We struggled with locations because it is hard to go places that we have so many memories of DJ--the memories are always tightly packaged in our brains but seeing a location he was at and having a great time brings them to the surface.  Needless to say losing a child is complicated and difficult and their is no perfect road map to get us through it. 

Sidenote--I will be speaking at a conference in Omaha in July and helping an organization with a fundraising event in October--if anyone is in need of a speaker please let me know early on as my schedule is getting fuller. I would love to speak to families or professionals about surviving this different life as my time allows! Also there are a few books left at the Bookworm bookstore in Omaha if anyone needs to order one-I only have two left at my house till my order comes back from the printers.  Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? 

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