If you are experiencing the loss of a loved one to murder, Parents of Murdered Children is a wonderful place to be. Sometimes it is the only place where you can come out from behind the wall you have built to hide behind and be yourself. When everyone is dealing with the same kind of tragedy you are dealing with, you know that everyone will understand your anger or grief or frustration or depression. You can tell them things that you can tell no one else and know that they have similar stories. It helps you to know that your aren’t crazy – whatever your reactions or phobias or hangups you can be sure someone else has faced the same. That is such a relief, especially when the feedback you get from most of the rest of the world is that you should move on, put things behind you, get back to “normal” whatever that means. That is a very precious thing.
Sometimes, even so, I find that when it is time to meet, I can find it hard to go. A strange reluctance comes over me, and it’s easy to flake out and hide at home. It hasn’t been something that I have been able to explain before, even to myself. But, after attending a meeting this week and thinking about it afterwards, I think I finally understand my hang up.
When an adult child is killed, his or her parent may be left to parent a grandchild who is left behind. Losing a parent can be hard on a child, especially when lost to violence. When the murderer is a trusted family member, it can be even worse. Children aren’t prepared to understand, and can even go through the entire grief process over and over as they reach different levels of development.
Several grandparents spoke this week about how hard it is to raise their grandchild knowing that they will never know their deceased parent. They have been forced into a role that should have been filled by their own child, and that is hard. And to see a small child struggling with issues so vast is very painful. I understand that and sympathize. I have seen Devon’s and Ian’s friends going through some of the same processes, and I have seen the pain and helpless feeling that the parents of these children have to bear.
However, as I listen to a grandparent talk about how the hardest thing about losing their son or daughter is to see the lasting psychological effects on their grandchild, I have to fight an urge to scream. Their pain is real, and I don’t want to add to it by burdoning them with mine. It’s just that I would give anything, anything at all, to have that chance. Even with the difficulties and the severe psychological problems that might plague his life and growing up, I would give anything to have one of my grandsons here to raise. I would even give anything to just have Neal back, even though I know first hand the pain and devastation he would feel at the loss of his little boys. But, I can’t say that. Even in the loving and accepting family of POMC, I can’t say that.
Oh, Hell, why is life so hard? The one thing that used to make Devon angry was when someone was treated unfairly. That’s a hard thing to have to explain to a child – the unfairness of life. Why do bad things happen to good people? That’s the eternal question that we struggle with all our lives. I don’t think anyone has come up with a satisfactory answer. If your faith is strong, you may comfort yourself with the idea that everything is part of a plan, or that it’s part of a big picture that we can’t see. I suppose that’s an answer of sorts. It doesn’t really help all that much when you are mourning the death of a child though. I guess I just can’t accept that a loving God would plan to have these lives cut short in this way. If we have free will, then even murderers are free to make the decision to kill. That sucks. The whole free will thing – we haven’t really handled it very well, have we? If it was up to me, I think I’d call it a bust and vote to ditch the whole thing. Then maybe I could sleep at night without waking in panic, worrying about the child I have left. A 31-year-old independant woman doesn’t take well to parental smothering. She has wanted to do things for herself since she was 18 months old. I know that very well. Yet, I can’t seem to rest if I haven’t at least heard her voice at some point during the day. (Don’t tell her, she’ll just get mad at me).