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A Child is Gone; An Auntie’s Perspective

  • Posted October 23, 2006
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  • in category Grief

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It was 9pm on the West Coast when I received the call. My brother and his family had been in an accident.

My brother was in critical condition, unconscious, several broken bones and a gloomy prognosis. He was being wheeled into the operating room when I got the call.

My sister-in-law was in critical condition, several broken bones, semi-conscious, and asking where her two daughters were.

The life-flight helicopters had picked up individual victims from the accident and dispersed through the city of Houston. No one knew where my two nieces were.

After a couple hours of wondering, worrying, crying with fear, my 10 year old niece had been found. She had a bruised right hand, a scratch on her right thumb, was suffering terrible emotional shock and was asking for her sister.

Her sister, 8 years old, was already on life support. The impact of the accident caused immediate and severe damage to her brain and internal organs.

Members of my family stood in horror as we were told that we needed to make a decision. The most difficult and painful decision in any person’s life would be this.

We should live in a world where caskets shorter than 6 feet in length are outlawed… unnecessary. We should live in a world where an 8 year old has no chance of experiencing any form of medical life-support. This is my wish for the world.

My niece decided not to allow us the chance to make any decision on her behalf. Her internal organs began shutting down one by one in complete defiance of the systems forcing her to breath and forcing each beat of her heart.

My family was spared the most horrific decision we were ever asked to make.

My brother and his wife did not even have the chance at a last goodbye. This all took place while my brother’s rib cage and pelvis were being operated on. This all took place while his wife lingered between a conscious and unconscious state. They simply didn’t know their little girl was gone.

This is a true catastrophic event. I spent several days in total darkness. I moved around life as if on autopilot. I have no memory of several days surrounding the event except for the event itself.

It has been 12 years now. I can assure you that no matter how catastrophic your stressor may be, life does go on, life does get better. You can go on, and you have lots of help to get you through the darkness.

Mourning is a necessary part of life. It is a wonderful and complex stress relief. It is an internal stress relief system that allows you to get through your darkest times.

I will never stop mourning my niece, however my patterns of mourning become more and more subdued over time. This is what you can expect also.

Allow yourself to mourn the way you need to, let it out, and let it go. When it’s over you’ll breathe again.

Cherlyn Garrett, the auntie, is committed to helping people live a more enjoyable life through simple and complex stress relief, or mirror site


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  • Posted On October 23, 2006
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