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“Surviving the death of your child is the worst nightmare of any parent.”

By Anal Shah

Surviving the death of your child is the worst nightmare of any parent. I am a mother of twins from India. My healthy, happy, lively, and promising son, Smayan, passed away at the age of 15 from a simple viral infection that led to multi-organ failure on June, 27, 2017. He was in the best medical facility under the care of a prominent infectious disease specialist, but nothing could save him. I was the one who had to tell the doctor to let him go if he survived irreversible organ damage. By then he had suffered his first cardiac arrest and his kidneys had already shut down. The last memory I have of him is my husband and me watching him being administered his final manual CPR, the doctor jumping over his fragile body. But I am proud that we had the guts to let him go. We wanted quality life for him, not mere quantity. But when the reality of the loss set in, it shred our souls. Our daughter, Smayan’s twin, had to face the trauma of losing her soulmate. They were two bodies with one soul. But she showed me the path to resilience. I have learned a tremendous amount from her. She appeared for her school exams exactly two weeks after Smayan passed. She kept us going.

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On the first monthly anniversary of his death, we went to a local school and fed the kids. It gave us a lot of peace.

As we tried to start breathing again, we realized that honoring his memory is the best we can do now. On the first monthly anniversary of his death, we went to a local school and fed the kids. It gave us a lot of peace. Then it became a tradition. Every month on the 27th, we tried to do something good in his memory. This practice gave me a purpose to survive, aside from my daughter, of course. Moreover, it kept my mind busy and the spare time I had was continuously occupied searching for new places to support. We can’t spend a lot of money every month, but I have prepared a budget and we work accordingly. One month, we went to a residential school that houses 300 disabled girls and gave them breakfast. The next month, I came across a pediatric cancer ward in a government hospital that houses nearly 35 kids on any day. I found my calling there. I go there every month with a small goody bag containing stuff that they would love to eat, but that their parents can’t afford. Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces is priceless. My entire month is spent thinking about what to buy for them, being careful not to repeat the same item, procuring it from a wholesale market so that I can purchase a few more goodies while staying within my budget, packing the stuff, communicating with the hospital, going there, and distributing the goodies to the kids. The 27th now goes by with a lot of peace, rather than tears. My daughter also helps me to pack the bags.

The tears and feelings of loss are perennial, but the pain of Smayan's passing is lessened a bit when I help these kids who are not only poor, but suffering through the worst time of their lives.

Grief & Loss Children Family Finding meaning Loss of child Post-traumatic growth Supporting others Women

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