It's interesting how things happen sometimes.
I seem to find grieving parents everywhere I go. Maybe it's a badge I wear on my chest, maybe it's a sensitivity I see in others...I don't know how it happens but it does.
I walked into a quiet shop this week and chatted with the store clerk about the weather and other mundane topics. This is a shop that hosts events for groups after hours and I enquired about hosting an event there. When the store clerk said "Oh, you must be part of one of those splurge groups!" I quietly answered, "No, we are a group of bereaved moms who like to get together and are always on the lookout for something new."
The clerk stopped what he was doing and said "I lost my sister ten years ago". Just by chance the clerk's father was in visiting his son. It was the father's birthday. The clerk introduced us, noting that we shared this undesirable connection. I could feel his man's devastation and heartache and could see the pain in the way he hung his head and spoke with tears in his eyes. I talked with him for a long time, asking questions about his daughter and listening to him tell me what was in his heart.
When I turned to leave the quiet store, I asked him if I could give him a hug. He held onto me for a long time with gratitude. I can't say for certain, but I feel like I made a difference in that man's day. That maybe, I helped him feel heard, validated his feelings and helped him realize he is not alone on this journey.
Child loss is lonely and it hurts. We know that no one can bring back our child and the situation can't be fixed, but reaching out to one another is powerful and it is healing - for you and for the other person. No matter how long it has been, a parent needs and wants to talk about their child. They are woven into the fabric of our lives.
Together we are stronger.