Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Announcing Death

How do you announce to the world that a child has died? 

Is there an easy way?  A way that comforts as it gives the painful news?  A way to tell people while softening the blow?


There is no easy way.

Shortly after the beginning of the bowling season last fall, we were at the bowling alley for the Saturday morning youth league.  My son was bowling with the same team he'd been on for four years…only this year without his sister.  A new little girl filled her spot on the team.

The Youth Director went through the morning announcements.  One of those announcements?  A high schooler in our youth league had died.

I know my thoughts should have been with the family and what they were going through…but they weren't.

I couldn't get past the shocking pain, shuddering breath and sweating palms.

I couldn't move beyond the racing heart, tear-blurred vision or shaking limbs.

In the midst of that family's sorrow, I lived the moment in which my daughter's death was announced to the bowling alley.  I lived the moment in which her death was announced at our church here on the east coast.  I lived the moment that churches all across the world that had been praying for her healing learned of her passing.  I lived the moment that her death was announced in the PICU where she and I had lived for five long months.  I lived the announcement of her death over and over and over again.

It took every ounce of willpower in me to remain at the table where I was sitting.  I wanted to run.  I wanted to kick sand up with my heels and get out of there faster than a kid chasing an ice cream truck.  But I stayed.  I sat at the table with the other moms.  I tried to control my breathing.  I wiped my eyes…and my sweaty palms.  I blew my nose.  I shook it off.  I turned away from everyone else and concentrated on my son and his bowling.  I'm not saying that's the right way to handle it – that's just how I coped.

You may have heard me say this before, and you will definitely hear me say it again.  The painful moments I know are coming are so much easier to handle.  I can prepare for them, build up my defenses, psych myself up for dealing with the hurt.  It's those things that come out of nowhere, blindsiding me, that get me every time.  If I don't see something coming, how can I possibly be ready for it?

The bowling alley that morning all those months ago – that was my unexpected hit for the week.  It was rough.  The hurt went deep.  I was shaken.  But I did survive.

Remembering that day in the bowling alley also forces me back to the day my daughter died.  How did we tell people?  What did we say?  We made a couple phone calls that morning.  The following day, I made an announcement on a social networking site so people who had been following her would know.

How does one announce the death of a child?  Is there an easy way?  A way that comforts as it gives the painful news?  A way to tell people while softening the blow?

No, I don't think so.  But I suppose when those horrible moments in life come, we each handle it the best we can.  We try to honor the life and love of the person we've lost.

On the day after I had to say goodbye to my daughter, when it was time to make that public announcement, the words seemed simple.  I cried as I typed them.  Even now, I fight tears when I read them.  Because they're still true.

Our beautiful daughter, my very own Ladybug, went home to be with Jesus yesterday.

She will never again know pain or sickness or sorrow.

Our lives are forever changed.

Heaven is forever changed too.


Go Back

I have no words to explain what I am feeling, I am speechless but I can feel your pain as I have lost my daughter yesterday, she was just 3 months old. But am in a state of comfort that she is in god's lap now, under his protection, she is even more secure and safe.

We lost our Sabrina 4 months ago she was 2 yrs 6 months and 5 days old when she got her wings. I know how hard it is to cope. hugs!

ap sent me

It is so true. The hardest parts of grief are when your feet aren't firmly planted. I cry when I read this, because we went through so much that year. I finally feel like the sand no longer shifts beneath my feet, so it's an even harder fall when I'm wrong and the sand leaves me altogether.

I hope you have sand beneath your feet today Heather.

Bless your heart, my friend. *hugs*

Aw Heather. I'm crying. No one knows how they would handle a horrible thing like you had to go through. But, like you said, you have to go on. <3 Lovely post, friend.

Thank you for a honest, poignant post.