Monday, November 28, 2016

How do you Grieve for Someone you Never Knew?

I did not expect this to ever be the subject of a blog post for me. I never expected to tell the story I'm about to tell. I'm not even sure I can get the words out the way I actually want to because I have literally never dealt with a situation like the one that this post is about. I didn't even know the torrent of emotions I'm feeling now existed before hearing the news that brought it about. But I need to get this off my chest so that I'm not letting my responsibilities fall by the wayside due to grief.

I suppose I should start at the beginning. Seven years ago, my wife and I had the privilege of hearing that a married couple we were friends with had recently become pregnant with what we would learn later was a baby girl. That baby girl has been a part of my honorary family since the day she came into the world, and my wife and I love her as if she were one of our own. She is a bright spot to any day, good or bad, and always manages to cheer me when I'm feeling down.

Recently, we heard that this couple was pregnant once more, and all of us were feeling a kaleidoscopic array of emotions from nervousness to incredulity to surprise to anticipation. We didn't know how far along the mother was at this point, but it didn't matter. The family was growing. In our minds we began, subconsciously and consciously, considering what this would mean in regards to changes to our lives. I was concerned because of the financial changes that they would experience with another child, but I was also excited. I was going to be an uncle again. How could I not look forward to that?

Sadly, that will not come to pass. My wife and I learned mere minutes ago as of this writing that our expectant mother friend has recently miscarried, and now what was once an atmosphere of crackling anticipation is now a cloud of grief and loss that threatens to overwhelm me even as I write. Throughout all this, I've been asking a question and have yet to come up with an answer:

How do you grieve for someone you never knew?

My little niece/nephew (I don't know which it would have been.) will not be a part of our or her parents' lives, and a hole is now left in my heart where that child would have taken their rightful place as a member of my extended family. I am very protective of everyone I consider family and would do whatever I could to help them in any situation for no other reason than because they're family, but I find myself powerless in the face of this tragedy. I can do nothing. There is no magic set of words or actions that can restore this child to life and allow her to find her way in the world. There is no rules committee to petition or argue with to change the outcome of these events. There is literally nothing I can do to fix this, yet that is the only instinct I feel at the moment. There should be something for me to do to help, but there is nothing. No matter what words I offer or actions I take, this innocent child will still be dead, and her mother will still be overcome with grief and loss that will never fully go away.

This angers me. I hate it when I can do nothing to help people that clearly need it. I can't even point them in the direction of someone who CAN help them, because I don't know who can help in this situation. Beyond prayer, there is nothing that can even ease the pain of losing a family member, even (or perhaps especially) one you never even had the chance to meet. To see grow and experience life for themselves. The whole thing is a mass of wasted potential and opportunity and to me there is no greater tragedy than that.

I don't know what else I can say to this. There are just no words.

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