Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Gap by Michael Crelinsten

I came across this piece in a pile of stuff I was given after Isaac died. I think it is so insightful.
The Gap
The gap between those who have lost children and those who have not is profoundly difficult to bridge.
No one, whose children are well and intact can be expected to understand what parents who have lost children have absorbed and what they bear.
Our children come to us through every blade of grass, every crack in the sidewalk, every bowl of breakfast cereal.
We seek contact with their atoms, their hairbrush, their toothbrush, their clothing.
We reach for what was integrally woven into the fabric of our lives, now torn and shredded.
A black hole has been blown through our souls and, indeed, it often does not allow the light to escape. It is a difficult place.
For us to enter there is to be cut deeply, and torn anew, each time we go there, by the jagged edges of our loss. Yet we return, again and again, for that is where our children now reside.
This will be so for years to come and it will change us profoundly.
At some point in the distant future, the edges of that hole will have tempered and softened but the empty space will remain - a life sentence.
Our friends will change through this. There is no avoiding it.
We grieve for our children, in part, through talking about them and our feelings for having lost them. Some go there with us, others cannot and through their denial add a further measure, however unwittingly, to an already heavy burden.
Assuming that we may be feeling "better" six months later is simply "to not get it." The excruciating and isolating reality that bereaved parents feel is hermetically sealed from the nature of any other human experience.
Thus it is a trap - those whose compassion and insight we most need are those for whom we abhor the experience that would allow them that sensitivity and capacity.
And yet, somehow there are those, each in their own fashion, who have found a way to reach us and stay, to our comfort.
They have understood, again each in their own way, that our children remain our children through our memory of them.
Their memory is sustained through speaking about them and our feelings about their death. Deny this and you deny their life.
Deny their life and you no longer have a place in ours.
We recognize that we have moved to an emotional place where it is often very difficult to reach us.
Our attempts to be normal are painful and the day to day carries a silent, screaming anguish that accompanies us, sometimes from moment to moment.
Were we to give it its own voice we fear we would become truly unreachable, and so we remain "strong" for a host of reasons even as the strength saps our energy and drains our will.
Were we to act out our true feelings we would be impossible to be with.
We resent having to act normal, yet we dare not do otherwise.
People who understand this dynamic are our gold standard.
Working our way through this over the years will change us as does every experience - and extreme experience changes one extremely.
We know we will have recovered when, as we have read, it is no longer so painful to be normal. We do not know who we will be at that point or who will still be with us.
We have read that the gap is so difficult that, often, bereaved parents must attempt to reach out to friends and relatives or risk losing them. This is our attempt. For those untarnished by such events, who wish to know in some way what they, thankfully, do not know, read this. It may provide a window that is helpful for both sides of the gap.
It was written by Michael Crelinsten, Father of Alexis, who left for Heaven at the tender age of nine. It seems that these words only make more sense to me with each day that passes.


andreawilliams said...

Love this. Thank you for posting it!
Hugs to your heart from Idaho!

Laura said...

What an incredible poem...takes my breath away. xox

Lisa said...

Thank you Kristy.

The Pittsburgh Hites said...

This is beautiful! I LOVE the new slideshow. There was a picture of Isaac that I had never seen before! The ones of the boys at the beach are great, they look like they had so much fun on vacation!!
Thinking of you,

Angie Luce said...

I want you to know that you have been on my heart and in my prayers as well! I haven't left a comment, but I have been following along, feeling privileged to be able to watch and see you live out your faith, even under the most difficult circumstances. You, your husband, and your boys are truly special.


Anonymous said...

Kristy -
I have been checking your blog often but do hesitate to post because I do not know you, and you are right - there is a gap. Perhaps you are teaching me ways to bridge the gap. I long to do that in a sensitive and encouraging way. I was especially intrigued by the thought you shared of newborn hospice.
Tonight we studied affliction at church. It is not something we desire, yet something we should expect for so many reasons. The community of precious women who have lost a child have taught me a lot about affliction. I do not know why I innocently stumbled across all these blogs but perhaps the Lord will use them to prepare me to be more sensitive to those around me who are struggling with the loss of a child.
Thank you for sharing the lessons you continue to learn from having Isaac and Asher be a part of your family.

Anonymous said...

That is beautiful. Thank you.

love, claire

Yvette said...


I love this poem, so true isn't it? There is a gap which makes it so hard sometimes for people, especially our close friends, to really understand all that we feel and experience on a daily basis. That is why I am SO THANKFUL to have found all of you precious girls, via the Internet. Although this road is hard it does make it a little easier knowing you have friends who understand EXACTLY what you are feeling.

I have commented about this before, but I must say it again, your strength is such a true testimony to God's grace. Not only have you suffered the loss of one precious baby but two. I believe the Lord is going to use you in a mighty way for your faithfulness and obedience.

I pray for you every day and will continue to pray for you as the Lord uses your boys' lives to touch thousands of people around the world. Your words are so inspiring sweet friend!

Love, Yvette Hostetter

P.S. I am so glad you have a support group there in your town to go to, that has to be a sweet group of people!

Cathy said...

Thank you for the post. it is a reminder that we who have not experienced a loss, don't really have a clue to what you are going thru. Know that you are in our prayers! Each night when Annabel prays(with my voice) we pray for each Angel that has gone before and the ones that are not born and the few who are still with us. I also want to thank you for the post that you are praying for Annabel. Cathy & Annabel

Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

I must add that as far as the friends are concerned it goes the same when you have a special needs child. the same thing happens with your freinds.
This poem was touching to me.