My Story of Loss by Brenda Hunter
I turned to the Compassionate Friends Organization after I
lost my first child. At the initial meeting we attended I was amazed at
how many parents were there. Some had lost a young child, others a teenager
or adult child. The circumstances didn’t matter because being around people
that knew the pain you were feeling was so comforting. Knowing you’re not alone is so
important. The Compassionate Friends
Organization holds meetings monthly where you can share your pain and what
you’re feeling or just talk about your child.
There are many steps to the grieving process and they can help you
navigate all of them. I hope after
reading my story you will benefit directly or recommend this organization to someone who can
benefit. I also hope you will join me in
supporting this organization by purchasing our products or donating directly.
Jeffrey Thomas W. You are Forever in our Hearts
August 10, 1982 to August 23, 1983
He was our precious baby boy and being young parents, we were learning all
about raising a child. The joys of all
the firsts and the worries when they’re sick with ear infections, fevers and
colds or just cry because their teeth hurt. I
had gone back to work at Northeast Utilities when he was about 3 months. Young couple, new house, there was no
question about being able to stay home even though I longed to be with him all
day. We found a great home daycare
provider near work and we got into a routine.
However after several months, the daycare provider had an injury and
could no longer care for Jeffrey. We
began searching for a new sitter and found one close to home. A family member
knew her and her husband and they had a little boy just a little older than
Jeffrey. Big sigh of relief that he was again being cared for while we were at
work. Everything was going fine, Jeffrey was growing and healthy. Being the first grandchild on both sides of
the family, he was surrounded by love. The hot summer months were coming and we
booked a vacation week in New Hampshire.
It was so much fun spending all day with him, playing in the water. He couldn’t get enough of it. I’m so glad we had that time with him. The vacation
week went by so fast and we were back home in our routine. His first birthday was coming soon, August 10th
and I was starting to plan his party and celebrate that all important
An Awful Turn of Events
However one afternoon things began to take an awful turn. I had picked Jeffrey up at the sitter’s house. He was still tired so I put him in for a little nap. When he got up, we went over to visit with my neighbor when we noticed Jeffrey wouldn’t put any weight on his left leg. He wasn’t walking yet but would pull himself up onto tables and when he did that he wouldn't put his foot down. I immediately called the sitter and asked if anything had happened. She assured me nothing had occurred. So I called my Pediatrician and they took a look and referred me to an Orthopedic doctor. An x-ray showed he had a “questionable” hairline fracture of the left tibia. The doctor recommended a cast. I was upset, angry and confused…my beautiful little baby boy had a cast all the way up to his thigh and I had no idea why. We thought could it have happened in his crib when he would rest his legs on the bumper pads. He would turn over an get up quickly when we walked in the room. Could his foot have gotten caught? Was it even broken? They did say questionable. His sitter expressed concern about caring for him…and asked if there was anything special she would have to do. I said just keep him cool and give him extra attention. It was August and hot and the cast was making him hotter. We celebrated his first birthday on August 10, 1983. Surrounded by friends and family, he ripped open presents like only an excited one year old could. The cast didn’t deter him from crawling around and playing with his toys. I thought I can’t wait for that to be off his leg and things to be back to normal. Boy was I wrong! The worse day of my life came on August 23, 1983. Jeffrey's Dad dropped him at the sitter’s. That was our routine, he would drop him off and I would pick him up around 2:30 pm. I was already at work when I received the call from the sitter that Jeffrey had fallen and the ambulance was bringing him to Middlesex Hospital. From that moment on my life has never been the same.
We Rushed to the Hospital
We rushed to the hospital but we never saw our sweet baby boy alive again. He had fallen and never regained consciousness. We were in shock, in the depths of sorrow that no parent should ever, ever have to feel or experience. And worse, we didn’t understand. How did he fall? First a cast and now this! Could the sitter have hurt him on purpose? The pain and confusion all came crashing in on us. The police came to our house and the sitter’s and asked lots of questions. We talked to the sitter about what happened. She explained she had put him on the table to take off his shirt, to keep him cool and then turned away for a second. He tumbled off the table with the cast making the fall quicker and harder. There was an autopsy which took months to determine the cause of death which was ruled an accidental fall. The autopsy also determined he indeed did have a fractured tibia. One tiny bit of consolation that he didn’t have the cast on for no reason. The pain was so enormous and engulfing. The guilt for not being with him and entrusting his care to someone who was negligent was unbearable.
Heartache but Living Life
So why am I telling this story now after so many years? Mostly because it’s taken this long to be
able to put it in writing and make it public.
Obviously thru out the years I have told certain people. It’s always been hard when someone asks you
how many children you have. I was
fortunate to have two more after Jeffrey, a daughter and another son who I love
more than life. But I carry around a
scar in my heart that has taken a lifetime to heal and heal enough to write this story.
You will Survive
What I can tell you if you are one of the millions of parents who have lost a
child and are just starting this journey that it will get easier. The days of crying will get less, you will
smile when you think of your child and the joy they gave you for as long as
they were with you. Their birthday will keep coming and you will sing them
“Happy Birthday” and hope they hear you.
The day of their death will come and you will cry and find it hard to
believe you made it through another year without them. Will your life be the
same, no it will not but you will learn to live without them. You will also learn that life is like a glass
and it can be shattered in a second. You
will learn not to take your loved ones for granted because life can be shorter
than you think. You will learn that you
are stronger than you ever knew you could be.
When life hits you with something that seems difficult, you will compare
it to the pain of losing a child and that will be your strength. Think of it as a gift from your child.