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“We are slowly beginning to accept that our world has started to look different.”

By Michael Kotzbauer

This is the first time in my life of almost fifty years that I am posting something on the internet.

We live in the central-southern part of Germany, and we were catapulted from our orbit seven weeks ago. Our older daughter, Sophia, had a wonderful afternoon on her horse and was riding back home on her bike when she was hit by a train. She died instantly.

We have gone through the darkest hours of our lives.

As you can or can't imagine, this has been our family’s and my “zero hour.” All of a sudden we were left with a smaller family of three. Since then we have gone through the darkest hours of our lives.

The weeks following Sophia’s death passed in shock and paralysis. Luckily we were and are surrounded by very good and decades-long friends and family, who carried us through the blackest nights and still carry us forward.

I am very glad that our younger daughter is doing fine, totally integrating what happened, and is continuing—though being sad—to live her life, leaving me with great respect and admiration.

She is indeed setting an example to her much older father.

For a father and even more for a mother, losing a child is the tragedy of our life. We are slowly beginning to accept that our world has started to look different.

Your world did not collapse or become destroyed; it's still there but looks and moves differently.

Riding on my mountain bike, I was telling a very good friend that my world had shattered completely. His answer was, "If this is the case, you need to jump from the highest bridge in the nearby forest." He added a few seconds later, "Your world did not collapse or become destroyed; it's still there but looks and moves differently."

He was right.

Since week one—even during the funeral, in complete shock—I was telling everyone that we have only one option, which is life.

It turns out that this has been and still is right. Putting it in other words: Option A—the option of four—is not available anymore. There is just Option B—the option of three—left.

Taking this very rocky road—which to us is without any alternative—is exhausting and requires great self-discipline.

There are and will be very bad days, bad days, and okay days, and hopefully the future also has brighter and even happier days. We now know that taking this very rocky road—which to us is without any alternative—is exhausting and requires great self-discipline.

Our family and I have a responsibility to our younger daughter, to ourselves, to life itself, and finally to Sophia.

The best and only way to do what Sophia would have wanted and honor her is not only to make peace with the “option of three” but to design and live it. We are utterly determined to do so, with my older daughter always with us in our hearts and minds.

I am writing this because we know and learn that—although luckily this is not a situation that happens very often—we are not the only ones experiencing this sort of tragedy. I want to tell everyone that it is worth it—though hard—to continue life in a positive way in honor of the ones who have left us.

Grief & Loss Building resilience Children Family Loss of child Accident
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