"Back to School" for Families Enduring SIDS

For a family who has suffered the death of a child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a great part of grieving their baby's death involves missing memories and milestones that never were....grieving the loss of the hopes and dreams you expected to experience with your child.

One such dream is the day you send your child off to school. Three simple words, "Back-to-School," can evoke a vast array of emotions and meanings for parents, but at the end of a long, hot summer, the general consensus among parents and kids is a feeling of anticipation and excitement. Yet the season can also cause great sadness to well up in the hearts of parents who have suffered the death of a child. 

Personally, I have some mixed emotions about it this year. Our "big girl" is entering Kindergarten, and boy have we been so excited about school supplies and school clothes. (never knew the delight that a pair of blunt scissors and a gluestick could bring!) 

But then I was talking with a friend whose son was in our daughter's preschool class last year. The mother shared how her daughter, along with 2 other siblings of friends from my daughter's former preschool class, will be starting the preschool in the same class together this fall. Later, alone to myself, I cried. My Billy, had he not died of SIDS, would be in that class, too.

There are thousands of schools all over the country that will be hustling and bustling with eager little (and big!) children starting class the next few weeks. I pause to think about the "empty desks" that no one else sees- but which many mothers and fathers are grieving silently to themselves.

It's not an overwhelming pain that I feel over the loss of getting to watch Billy grow and learn in school- because God has brought so much healing to my heart. But as our family continues on with life, it is a sadness that sort of catches me by surprise when I stumble upon milestones like this that I don't get to experience with Billy. 

God's Word says in Psalm 39:5, "Each man's life is but a breath." Even as I continue to heal, I will forever experience moments that stir up sadness and brokenness in my heart over the loss of my son. But to think that the timeline for experiencing those difficult moments "is but a breath" keeps it in perspective for me and makes it a little more bearable.

This time of year, many grieving parents deeply wish they could see their little one with that big grin on his/her face, lunchbox in hand. But eternity with our children will be so far greater than the temporary joy that comes from a photo of them all dressed up for the first day of school. And "in a breath"- we'll be there.

Perhaps you're grieving the start of school- or another "milestone" that you are missing watching your child reach. When you hit these tough moments, may you find comfort in Psalm 62:8 where God promises that we can trust in Him at all times, pour out our broken hearts before HIm, and find refuge in Him.



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