Our son Nathan was nine years old when he was hit by a car.
It’s impossible to imagine a life without one of our children. We see and hear about it on the news each day, but never believe it could happen to us.
Nathan sustained major head injuries after being hit by a speeding car. The force of the car threw him into the air and crushed his skull as he landed on the road. After two days of neurological testing in intensive care, the doctors called us in and revealed our worst fears.
They told us that our son was brain dead, and we had an opportunity to donate his organs and turn off his life-support. An opportunity? I remember staring at the doctors dumbfounded by this suggestion. The only opportunity I wanted at that time, was to take my son home and go back to the life I knew and loved.
But there was never an opportunity to do that again. We donated his organs; said our last desperate goodbyes, and turned off his life support. The next day we went home with our daughter Lauren and our shattered lives began without Nathan.
Life after the death of a child was like swimming through an unpredictable sea. The waves crashed on top of me, day after day, but somehow, although I didn’t feel like it, I kept coming up for air.
Each morning I woke up longing and aching for my son’s return, but when I saw my five-year-old daughter Lauren looking at me with uncertainty and fear, wondering where her brother had gone and where her safe happy life had gone; I knew I had to survive.
It was slow and painful. It was back and forth in agony, anger and fear, and learning how to navigate a terrain I had never seen before seemed impossible. I knew I had to find space to slow down and nurture my needs, so I could nurture Lauren and mend our family back together again.
There is no one-way, or easy way to grieve. It’s something I wish no one to experience, but if you do, I have shared some ways that helped me.
- I asked for support. In the early days, I needed people around me. I needed meals, helping around the house and with school pick ups and drop offs for Lauren. I needed friends to cry and laugh with me. I needed to talk about my beautiful son and have loved ones remind me I was doing okay.
- I went for long walks in nature to clear my incessant thoughts and my fears about the future, and even though my mind desperately wanted to be busy and distract me from my grief, being still in nature’s silence helped me find peace.
- I gave myself permission to accept the unknown, step by step. I had so many questions about his death, I wanted to know ‘why this,’ ‘why that,’ or ‘what could I have done differently?’ But it only exhausted me.
- I joined a yoga group to teach me how to breathe, meditate and open myself up to let go of my guilt, my pain and my anger. It was a slow process, but I learned it was the key to moving grief away from my body and my mind.
- I learned to open up, little by little and trust in life again. I had another beautiful girl called April and allowed myself to believe I had room in my heart to love deeply again, to live fully again and in doing so, I was honoring the beautiful and precious life of our son Nathan.