Tuesday, August 1, 2006

When there's nothing to say

I have two students who happen to be a mother and daughter with the same name. Isn't that amazing? I'll call them Louisa Sr. and Louisa Jr.

A few months ago, Louisa Sr.'s youngest son and Louisa Jr.'s brother, who was only 23, was killed in a car crash involving alcohol.

At the time this took place, I only knew Louisa Jr. It was hard not to grieve a little with them, at this tremendous loss in their lives. Louisa Jr. was busy planning her wedding, and shortly after she came back to work, she questioned whether or not to go ahead with it. Her gut feeling was yes, and I backed her up. "you guys need something happy to look forward to," I said.

Fast-forward to now. Louisa Sr. has since entered as a student, a lovely woman whose grief is deep and evident every time I look at her. Louisa Jr.'s wedding is this month and plans are in full gear.

This weekend, there was a bridal shower. Yesterday, Louisa Jr. told me about it enthusiastically, how well planned it was and all of the cool gifts she got. Louisa Sr. came in today and could not hold back her tears.

"It's so hard," she says, "he was supposed to be in the wedding. And I miss him so much. And my husband wants me to go to counseling, but I can't and I won't. Nothing will help, I will still miss my son."

I just sat there, a little bit in shock. She'd never mentioned her son to me before. And there was nothing I could do. I was completely and totally caught not having a single clue what would be best way to deal with this. I just sat there and let her tell me. I cannot imagine what her world looks like through her eyes. I cannot begin to comprehend the depth of anguish she must feel, the dreariness she faces everyday, the hurt that will linger forever. I've heard it's the worst thing, for a parent to bury their child, and I can catch a glimpse of how this must be true. To have a handsome young son torn from the world at the prime of his life, with nothing, absolutely nothing, to console you. His death was the result of poor decisions and a drunken night out. (he was not driving)

And there's nothing I can offer in the face of this. I haven't the first idea of that kind of grief. But my heart broke a little, and my own world seemed a little brighter and a little more in need of treasuring the people I love.


kathryn said...

my friend's only child was killed in a car accident a few years ago. . her and her husband, i've never seen 2 more devastated people. Their grief was and is huge. .

i know what you mean about not being able to see the world through their eyes. . even when you spend time with them and they tell you what it's like. . you can't imagine and don't want to. But, like you say, your heart does break for them.

~ jen ~ said...


I understand your position. I'm sure I wouldn't know what to say, or even know where to begin to empathize.

Let her know that you feel for her and her pain, that your heart bleeds for her and her family over the loss. It may seem like your words couldn't possibly help ease the hurt, but if you truly mean it, your words may do a world of good.

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