HOW do you get over the death of your child – get out of bed in a morning and fall back into step with a world that, to everyone else looks exactly the same as it ever was, only to you will never be the same again?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. And I have asked myself often enough. Those questions run on a continuous loop through my mind every time I hear of the death of a child. They stream, unwanted but unchecked, through yours, too. I know. We parents, we can’t help it.
Every single one of us can imagine only too well how it would feel if some particular fate we read about befell our child.
We say the horror they are enduring is unimaginable, but it isn’t. It’s the opposite.
In our mind’s eye, we can see it happening to our son or daughter, in agonising detail.
The accident, or the slipping away... We can feel the panic rising and the tears welling and the overwhelming grief and despair.
And no, it’s not morbid or pessimistic. What we imagine comes from a good place. It’s human empathy we’re feeling.
And now I think I’m starting to realise it is that very emotion, proffered by those who care for us, which eventually gets the devastated, achingly empty mothers and the steam-rollered, powerless fathers out of bed and going through the motions again.
This weekend, the worst nightmare became the terrible reality for Sheffield mother Faye Smith, one of the kindest, most brilliant women I know.
Faye shines. She’s a diamond. She radiates constant warmth, like a human Aga.
I met the self-employed marketing and PR woman through work and she became an invaluable source of help and information – and a friend.
I know her to be courageous, hard-working, resourceful, determined and never-say-die.
Then, this weekend, she had to accept death in the most appalling circumstance.
Her adored little girl Gabi, so like her mother, died. It is thought she suffered a seizure while relaxing in her Saturday morning bath, fell into unconsciousness and slipped below the water’s surface.
I can’t get the image out of my mind of Faye racing to break down the door, lifting her 12-year-old child from the water and frantically trying to breathe life back into the person she created.
Or of Faye’s 16-year-old son Zach, willing the paramedics he had summoned to work magic.
Gabi could not be revived. The family of three is now two. But having seen the blanket of human compassion that has been wrapped around them by their friends and family, and the huge comfort they are taking from their religious faith, I feel such hope that Faye and Zach can be.
Maybe life isn’t the only miracle; maybe the love that gets us through bereavement is, too.