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Navigating Grief: My son’s final week

Grieving a child

I’ve been thinking a lot about a photo recently. It was taken in southern Turkey after the horrific earthquakes left the area devastated. In the photo, a father sits next to a pile of rubble that contains the body of his daughter who had been killed. He is holding her hand. The rest of her body is trapped under debris. It’s a haunting, gut-wrenching image. 

I kept going back to look at it. It resonated with me and touched on so many feelings that are constantly swirling in my head these days. I’m not comparing my situation to his; our losses are clearly different. Last August, our son Henry passed away from complications brought on by a neurological condition called Rett Syndrome, which he valiantly fought for almost seven years.

When I look at that photo of the dad in Turkey, I am reminded that the innate desire to have physical contact with your child is universal from the moment they are born — and if they tragically die before you do, when they are dead as well.

The photo brought me back to sitting with our son Henry’s body after he died. As long as he remained a physical presence on this Earth, I wanted to be with him. We sat with him in our home for hours. Changed his clothes. It was summer. I put shorts on him, and a T-shirt out of habit. I chose one of his softest, coziest ones.


Photo and words by Mary Forrest Engel, The Today Show

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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