Thinking of You

ryan map
This is a map of the known candles lit in memory of your son.

My Dear Friends.

Losing a child is something that I can never contemplate.

Sometimes I practice in my mind for the future – what would I do without my husband, or with the catching sorrow of losing another sister. I cannot and would not have those thoughts concerning my children and grandchildren. It is unthinkable.

This wall of grief that wells up at the smallest hint of such a loss gives me a sense of how it feels. My grief over the death of a child who I have known well, or whose parents I have known well, is a commiseration that is real. It is true empathy.*

This is what I feel for you, dear friend.

I feel the joy that you feel with the outpouring of love and respect for your son, and for you, and your family. And I feel the emptiness in the quiet hours, the shearing away from the reality that you can no longer talk to him, touch him, hold him. I feel the comfort of contact with friends and family that shores you up and at the same time, the desire to be alone, to hide, to curl up and sleep and wake to a day before this great tragedy.

And I feel the heaviness that you carry with you. It weighs down your parallax view of life that makes each day different than you could have imagined.  It is the impossibility that life is going on – that the sun shines, that thunder peals through the mountains, that people still commute to work and stop to buy a latte on their way; while your mind and heart are with this boy who is living all stages of his life in your thoughts.

He is a toddler, reaching to be lifted. He is turning to you, laughing as you bike together. He is sitting at the table when the family is gathered. He is handsome and charming at a wedding. He is an infant, holding your finger in his tiny grasp.

I am heartsick that he is not with you. I am grateful that he lives in you and in so many other people who loved him. I am hopeful that your gratitude outweighs your sorrow in fleeting moments of each day.

Perhaps not yet…



*Empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably. Sympathy is a feeling, but the two terms have distinct origins and meanings.[2] Empathy refers to the understanding and sharing of a specific emotional state with another person. Sympathy does not require the sharing of the same emotional state. Instead, sympathy is a concern for the well-being of another. (Wikipedia)




  1. One of the oft repeated images on facebook is one that says something to the effect that while a child losing a parent becomes an orphan a parent losing a child does not get the benefit of a word to describe the situation. It has a poignant and very deep significance that it is so. I would be devastated if something was to happen to my son and can well relate to someone who does lose a child. I have seen some friends and relatives go to pieces when that happened.


  2. Very powerful writing here on a very overwhelming subject. I can’t imagine it for myself either…who could? But yes, I have walked beside some of those parents who also couldn’t imagine it, but now are living it. It is the second-most heart-wrenching of journeys….


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