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Grief Can Be So Cruel
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Sep 24, 2001
Have you ever heard a person who has lost a child say, "I know I saw her!"? Maybe it was at the supermarket or at a ball game. Perhaps it happened in the hallway by the bedroom door. But, one thing remains certain. The parent knows, beyond a shadow of doubt, that their child was seen! The parent can describe every detail of the event.

This happened to me time and time again when my thirteen-year-old sister died. I saw her with her friends on the playground at school. I saw her walking into the pizza shop where I worked. I woke up startled many times and saw her standing right beside my bed. I even saw her sitting in church several times. I could describe the clothes she was wearing and how her hair was combed. I absolutely, positively saw her.

Grief plays such cruel tricks! A very real part of grief is seeing the person who has died. This might go on for several months following a death. When you see your child, it seems so real! You might try talking to your child. You probably will begin running towards your child, calling out his name. Your heart races as you try to catch up to your child on the street.

The result of seeing your child is always the same, though. Your child never turns to look toward you. Your child never can hear your voice calling. You can never quite run fast enough to catch up to your child. And, then your heavy heart hurts even worse than before, as you are left wondering if this was all just a very bad dream.

When a child dies, part of you dies. When an older child dies, there are many years of memories attached to your child that you must let go of, too. This part of grief is extremely painful and difficult. Your mind has such a hard time processing the brokenness of your heart! You were used to seeing your child in school, at church, on the soccer field, and outside riding her bike. It is not at all unusual to continue to "see" your child for many months following the death.

Once you are aware of the fact that you will have moments of seeing your child, you will be able to begin moving through this part of grief without being so frightened. You are not losing your mind, as some might try to tell you. You are not seeing unusual visions. You are simply experiencing another step along this journey called grief.

Be assured, you will move beyond this. For about a year following my sister's death, I saw my sister quite frequently. Then, the episodes gradually became fewer and fewer, until I only experienced seeing her in occasional dreams. This seems to be true for most people who have experienced child loss.

By being informed, a great deal of the pain and fear of grief is diminished. Grief can be so cruel, but the good news is that this part of grief does not last forever!
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