During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all heard it said that everyone was grieving something. Millions of people worldwide lost loved ones to disease certainly, but many talked about grieving the loss of jobs, vacations, time with friends, graduations, and even things like the prom. They were all placed in this big bucket of ‘things we lost’ during the pandemic and reasons that we were all grieving in our own way.
Although to a certain extent, this is true, it is far too simple to just throw every loss into one bucket and treat all of these losses the same. Today’s guest, Dixie reminds us that when we label these losses as ‘grief,’ we really water down the definition. Having to quarantine from friends and family is certainly sad, but it should not be considered equivalent to suffering through the death of a loved one. When we do that, we diminish just how devastating it is to grieve a death loss, especially an out-of-order death loss such as the death of a child.
Dixie’s son, Parker, was in perfect health in the spring of 2019. He had transferred to a new college to further his baseball career. He was the starting shortstop on his new team and was proud to introduce his parents to his teammates between a pair of games the weekend before he passed away. On the day he died, Parker cleaned his room, laid out clean clothes for the afternoon, and even crossed off the day on the calendar. During practice, he was running sprints with the team. Suddenly, Parker collapsed on the ground. This fit, athletic kid, died from a sudden cardiac arrest. No reason has ever been found.
Dixie has been grieving the loss of her sweet son ever since that tragic day. Every day is a challenge. The grief is so incredibly deep that she is changed to her very core. This is true for all grieving parents. We will never be the same people who we were before our children died. Other types of loss simply can’t compare and it is important not to let ourselves fall into society’s trap of thinking that every loss is the same. When we do so, we will cause grieving people to isolate themselves even more, and that does not help anyone.