Death, dead, died, deceased, passed away……There! I said those atrocious and devastating words that NO ONE is comfortable saying. But, why do we feel this way? There is a very well known quote by Benjamin Franklin that I’ve heard a hundred times or more in my life, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” We lay our heads down each night and simply assume that we will awake the next morning. We get in our vehicles each day and assume that we will safely make it to our planned destinations. We have children and we assume that they will stay healthy, grow up, get married, have their own children one day……and then bury us when we die of old age. I think most parents would agree that this is the correct order of life’s journey. And, since most of us assume that we will each fall into this order, we rarely stop and think about what would happen if life got out of order. I truly believe that many of us refuse to accept the fact that we are going to die one day. I remember feeling that way as a teenager; I thought I would live forever and nothing would or could stop me. And, maybe until Kayla died, I, somewhat, still felt this way. But, I just didn’t worry about it that much because I thought that the day I would die would be so far away and it just wasn’t necessary to think about it too much. Both of my grandmothers lived into their 90’s. I assumed that longevity of life was hereditary. However, my reality is completely different now since Kayla passed away; everything is out of order. And, since life has decided to throw me this unexpected curve ball, I no longer fear these words….death, dead, died, deceased, or passed away……I am the queen of running away from my problems. However, you cannot outrun death. And, since each one of us knows that we will die one day, why be afraid of it? Maybe because it is the fear of the unknown. As Christians, we are taught to trust in God and accept Christ as our Savior and when we die we will be in Heaven and see our loved ones that have passed on before us. So, if we truly believe this, why is death rarely discussed with our family and friends and especially our children? We teach our children to be kind to others, make good grades, don’t hang around with untrustworthy people, don’t run with scissors, don’t lie, cheat or steal, and do not judge others because they are different. We protect our children and keep them safe, give them clothing and shelter, and hold their hand when crossing a street. We do everything we are supposed to do to prepare them to survive on their own as an adult one day. But, the one topic that we don’t prepare our children for is death. I know that I did not prepare Allison and Ashley for the death of Kayla. Maybe if I had prepared for it myself I could have done a better job with preparation for them.
I would like to encourage everyone that is reading this blog to accept the fact that you will not live forever and neither will your children. Please don’t be afraid to discuss this with your kids. It is now a topic that we discuss quite a bit in our house. And, I am not suggesting that we live our lives in fear of dying at any moment. But, if we can simply accept it, I think our kids can accept it, too. The death of a loved one will always be sad. I think I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to avoid being sad and letting go when someone I have cared about has passed away. I think I have been afraid of that painful feeling of a loss. I just didn’t want to go there. And, I didn’t want to cry. It felt better to hold everything inside. But, since Kayla died, I cannot and will not keep the pain inside anymore. If I need to have a melt down and cry a river, I will do it and know that it’s okay. If I need to cry in front of my kids, I don’t hide it anymore; they need to see that my emotions are real and I want them to feel comfortable to cry at any moment, as well.
It’s been almost one year since Kayla died and the pain is still as strong and real as it was at that time. I have heard that some parents that lose children don’t ever want to let go of the grief because it is the only way, other than memories, that they can still connect to their child. And, I would have to agree with that, too. Once a mother…always a mother….from birth to death and beyond.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month which just happens to be the same month that Kayla died from cancer. We are always seeing the color pink to represent breast cancer. And, I understand that this type of cancer is high in numbers and can be devastating to women. But, what about kids with cancer? Do you know what the color is to represent these precious kids? GOLD. There is simply not enough said in the world about childhood cancer. I found some very interesting facts about childhood cancer. Please feel free to pass this information onto others. It could happen to anyone’s child:
1. It is estimated 12,500 children in the United States and over 240,000 children worldwide develop cancer every year. 2. Approximately 2,500 of those children diagnosed in the United States will not survive. 3. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the United States. It is the second leading cause of death overall, only behind accidents. 4. On average, 35 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States. 5. 1 in every 330 Americans develop cancer before the age of twenty. 6. On average, one in every four elementary schools in the United States has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients. 7. Among the 12 major types of childhood cancers, leukemias and cancers of the brain and central nervous system account for more than half of the new cases in the United States. 8. 80% of children show that cancer has spread to distant sites in the body at first diagnosis. Only about 20% of adults with cancer show evidence that the disease has spread at the time of diagnosis. 9. The causes of most childhood cancers are unknown. At present, childhood cancer cannot be prevented. 10.On average, childhood cancer treatment lasts at least two years; and current treatments cause side-effects that can last a lifetime.