Sage Advice: Tragic Loss Leaves Family Reeling

By Amy Dickinson | September 19th, 2018

Grief hits people in different ways, and often different lengths of time


Dear Amy: My daughter lost her baby to an illness a few months ago. He was an overall healthy child, and his illness and death has been a devastating shock. The entire family was devastated.

A month or so after this grandchild’s death, my son, who also has children, started hosting large parties at his home for family and friends. I told him I did not think this was appropriate because of the short amount of time that had passed since this loss in our family. He said he was doing it because his children wanted to have their school friends and others over to their house.

My daughter and I did not attend these gatherings. I am disappointed in my son. Am I wrong to feel this way?

Still Grieving

Dear Still Grieving: I am so sorry for your family’s loss. The death of a child conveys with it a grief in a category all its own – deep, wide, long and abiding.

It is completely understandable that you and your daughter would want to try to (as in the famous Auden poem), “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone…” Auden’s famous funeral poem aptly describes the griever’s desire for ordinary life to freeze in place after a monumental loss.

Of course you and your daughter don’t want to attend a party! Being around other children might be especially painful. But please understand that you don’t get to force, nor should you expect, others to stop the clock.

You son has children. These kids should be permitted – and even encouraged – to run, jump, play, and dive into their friendships. They should also be encouraged to experience and express their abundant love for you and for their auntie. I hope that – when you are ready – you will let them fully in.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson

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