December 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Posted in Grief, Love, mourning, parents | 7 Comments
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We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.
– Talmud

As a child my parents explained that I was named in memory of my Great Aunt Edith while my brother was named in memory of my mother’s first cousin, Mitchell.  In my mind I rationalized that my great-aunt (my grandmother’s sister) was older and her death was more understandable.  Mitchell, on the other hand, died young.  I could not make sense of this as a child.  It was so terribly sad that Mitchell did not live past his teenage years.  I thought about Mitchell’s living brother and how it must feel to be the sibling left behind.

After Jake died my perspective changed.  I knew Mitchell’s death was of course sad for his brother, but I had never thought about how it impacted Mitchell’s parents, my Aunt Sophie and Uncle George.  They took care of Mitchell.  They had to watch him die from Leukemia.  The helplessness they must have felt.  The lost hopes and dreams.  They were members of the bereaved parent’s club long before I was ever born.

I was very close to my Aunt Sophie (my grandfather’s younger sister).   She and my Uncle George did not have grandchildren.  Mitchell had died young and his brother was not yet married.  I realized this at the age of 8 and decided that did not seem fair.  My grandparents had 5 grandchildren.  In my child’s mind I felt like there was something missing for my Aunt Sophie and Uncle George.

My 8-year-old solution was to volunteer to be an “adopted grandchild” to my Aunt Sophie and Uncle George.  First, I called my grandparents and asked them if it would be okay.  They said yes.  Next, I called my Aunt Sophie and Uncle George and they agreed as well.  Finally, I drafted the “adoption papers.”  It all seemed so simple at the time.  Now as a bereaved parent myself I realize that there is nothing simple about the death of your child.

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.
– Helen Keller


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  1. Just another example of what a wonderfully compassionate person you are. xo

  2. You are the kindest person that I know… seriously..

  3. How absolutely lucky for your Aunt Sophie and Uncle George. And how insightful of you at such a young age – perhaps Lanie you are one of those “old spirits” who are given the gift of compassion and understanding at a very young age.


  4. You were incredibly compassionate even as an 8 year old! You are amazing Lanie!

  5. This is a sad but wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it.

  6. This story is a beautiful one… you are gifted in your compassion toward others. You are an example to us all. Thank you for sharing it.

  7. What an amazing story from you at such a young age! It’s wonderful to learn more about you and your compassion towards others.

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