Thursday, December 13, 2012

The story behind...

... "When the Unthinkable Happens: The Death of a Child"

It was 1999 and we have already lost three children and had a blighted ovum pregnancy.

I was grieving so hard and had so many shattered dreams that I did not know what to do with myself. I was teaching US Law, but the rest of the time, I wallowed. 

I spent my time teaching and volunteering for the MISS Foundation, but I truly needed something else to look out of the grief-bubble I was living in.

My dear husband, knowing myself more than I do, told me that he would make a financial effort so I could go back to school. I decided to enroll in a Master program which would help me help others in grief. I was accepted to the Master in Family Sciences program at the Pontifical Institute John Paul II for the Study of Marriage and Family.

On August 1999, I went back to school! I had classes every Thursday and had lots and lots of reading and research during the rest of the week. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of it, though I confess that I had some trouble with psychology. My favorite subjects were theology and philosophy, bioethics and, obviously, law.

In late 2000, we were directed to begin working on our dissertation. By that time, I knew I wanted to write about child death, a topic close to my heart. Not only because of my personal experience, because reaching out to others in grief became my life-line during my worst moments.

I had read many, many books on parental grief by then, all of them in English, but none in Spanish. The lack of validation of my feelings, emotions and thoughts, in my own language was definitely a strong reason to sit down before my computer for hours at a time, after spending many, many hours reading and researching. Thus my self-help writing journey begun.

I began writing about life and death: when does life begin and what are the signs of death. Then I did write about grief and its "stages". The theory of well-define stages and the true mess real grief is. 

I tried to explain to my target audience - bereaved families: moms, dads, siblings and grandparents - what to expect after a child died. I tried to validate all the craziness and the excruciating pain and the deep sorrow and the numbness and the rage and the guilt. 

Then, I tried to tell society in general and extended family, friends, medical personnel, teachers, priests and pastors and rabbis what does help and what does not help the bereaved. Here, I did not only used the extensive biography I had read. I used my experience as a MISS Facilitator, a HOPE Mentor and as a bereaved mom.

I learned along the way that, though society gives parents the "right" to grieve depending the age of the child at the time of death, no matter the age or the cause of death, parental grief has more similarities than differences. I have learned that the bereaved community is compassionate and caring and supporting. 

I have learned so, so much from each and every bereaved mom, dad, brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend that I wish I had the opportunity to thank each one, individually, for being the best of teachers.

I know I say this a lot, but I am truly honored and grateful that I have been given the chance to reach out and share the love and the pain and the MISSing and the remembering of each MISS member and bereaved parent I have met along the way.

Each child has a special place in my heart and I hold each family close in my prayers for gentler days, as it is the only thing, other than listen and be present, that I can do for them.

This book was finished in 2001. Though it spent most of its time since then in a drawer and in my computer's memory, I have added to it now and then. I am finally able to publish the Spanish version on December 2012 and I hope soon, I'll be able to publish the English one. 

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