A week ago we marked the eighteenth anniversary of Kelly’s death. Quite a milestone really. Almost the amount of time we had with her.
Eighteen years is a long time — long enough for an infant to grow into an adult. Almost two decades — and that makes it sound really scary.
For the first ten years or so, the anniversary was a very special occasion. We gathered together as a family plus had a few friends and made it a sort of celebration of Kelly’s life with us. A big deal I guess. We also had lots of calls from friends expressing their sadness and support. For the first year or so we made a visit to the gravesite to mark the sombreness of the occasion. Then that seemed a bit morbid so that stopped and we just had a few drinks, played songs that reminded us of her and raised a glass or two to Kell.
Then gradually there were less of us and although it was still a special occasion, it was less of an event. Over the years the messages of support dwindled away to the very few — and that’s okay too. I know that I forget about other lost loved ones over time, which is probably the way it’s meant to be.
That doesn’t mean that Kelly is forgotten. Not at all, as she certainly will never be forgotten by her family. I know too, that she will not be forgotten by her friends either, as there will be times when she pops into their minds. Times when they reminisce over their school days and so on.
We do that too — often. But as the time has passed, so too has the raw grief. That initial highly emotional grief that goes with such a loss. Now although the grief is still there it is much softer — easier I guess to deal with. But for me it is always a part of my life — just like Kelly was.
The grief that accompanies the loss of a child is quite different from the grief of losing a parent. Losing a parent is an expectation — an inevitability; whereas you don’t expect your child to die before you.
So yes it gets easier with time, but I recall talking to a friends mum who’d lost a child around forty years earlier and she told me that she’d never got over it.
So no, you never get over it — but it certainly gets easier.