There are experiences that we have in life that change us forever.
On the one hand, there are moments of unimaginable joy and fulfillment—moments like graduating college, achieving a hard to reach a goal or starting a family. In particular, the birth of our own children is a peak in life that is hard to replicate. Still, for every experience that fills our hearts, there are opposite, negative experiences that can devastate us. Though this is all part of the two-sided coin that we call life, it doesn’t make experiencing those emotions any easier.
One recent blog post written by Wendy Keller proved that all too readily.
For those who don’t know, Keller is an accomplished journalist and non-fiction literary agent.
She has worked with thousands of authors throughout the years and helped many major works find their way to publication. On a more personal note, though, she has also inspired her many readers to find their way through life’s many hardships. All of that is possible only because Keller has been through so many difficulties herself, difficulties she has chronicled on her website in various blogs.
Still, one of the hardest of all was the loss of her children.
Keller began her life as a mother with two beautiful children, namely Jeremy Winston and Amelia Louise.
Like every mother, Keller looked forward to a long life with her family and wanted to see all of her kids grow up to have successful, stable lives. All of that changed one day when Jeremy Winston was only four years old, his baby sister Amelia Louise only one year old. They had been playing in the yard when the unimaginable happened.
Both Jeremy Winston and Amelia Louise were hit by a car and died that day.
Needless to say, Keller was struck with overwhelming grief.
After hearing the news about her children, Keller was admitted to the ICU. The doctors gave her drugs to keep her calm and sedated, though nothing would work. All that she could think of were the promises left unfulfilled—she pictured her little boy playing with his dump trucks in the sandbox and fixated on the French fries she’d planned to bring him for dinner that night that he’d now never get to eat.
To even begin to get through it all, Keller got some helpful advice from a friend.
As it turns out, Keller’s friend Lora had a son named Sydney who had died of SIDS only a few months earlier.
To offer some support, Lora called Keller and suggested that she focus on setting tiny, manageable goals for her grief. To begin, she could try to focus hard on not crying for 30 seconds as a starting point. Although it took several days of effort before she could manage it, Keller eventually pulled it off. As time passed, she noticed that the periods of stability got longer and longer. After a year, she could stand not crying for hours at a time.
Now that it’s been 20 years since her children passed away, Keller says her grief is limited to just a few bad days a year—though the pain is always there.
After some time had passed, Keller and her husband tried to make the conscious choice to move on and have another child.
Their third child, Sophia Rose, was born a few years after the accident and has become a thriving young adult. Throughout the process of starting again, Keller decided to share her journey with the world to help any parents who were mourning the loss of their own children. Although it was hard to take any positive lesson away from her experiences, she summed up her learnings as best as she could:
“What I’ve learned in all this…is that it’s OK. Your reaction is OK. As long as you don’t kill or harm yourself or someone else, it’s OK. I know you can be fine one moment and lying on the floor howling in agony another. You can be hyper-productive at work and completely comatose the rest of the time, walking through layers of gauze. It’s OK. There IS NO NORMAL REACTION to the death of your own child.”
Still, the other side of this lesson was that everyone experiences death differently.
For her part, Keller often buried herself in work and avoided her family—which her husband didn’t like. On the other hand, her husband drank to excess and caused other problems in the family—which she didn’t like. Through the early stages, the two were tempted to turn against one another and judge each other for what they had been through.
Through it all, Keller and her family learned to accept one another and to help build each other up no matter what.
Needless to say, Keller’s words have spread throughout the world and have inspired many who read her post.
While nobody hopes to go through the death of a child, Keller’s message rings true to many bereaved parents. Above all, her message is simple: it is ok to grieve however you need to. Even more simply, it is ok not to be ok. Everyone is entitled to let in the help they think they can take and turn away those who they can’t deal with (and that includes any empty platitudes as well). For anyone going through this experience, give Keller’s post a read for yourself and see if it rings true.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, Wendy.
Watch more in the video below.
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.
Follow your friends or be the first to join our group
Sources: Wendy Keller