All of a sudden

A lot of what I write about is what I hear and what we discuss in our bereavement groups.  I take in so much in these groups, I churn it, I digest it, think about it, and when I can, I let it out and write about it. Sometimes I use the person’s name who talked about it, other times so many people mention it that I just write.

BrokenIn tonight’s meeting, Pam talked about a drive to go shopping on Route 84. She passed a pretty bad accident – ambulances, airlift helicopter, police cars, and mangled vehicles. But what caught her eye and her mind was the covered dead body on the side of the road. Obviously, someone did not survive the accident. She could not see if the person was a teenager, or a senior, or someone’s son or daughter, or mother or father. She didn’t know if the person was a reckless speeder who caused the accident, an innocent victim that was just driving along and had his/her life ended, or merely a passenger in the wrong car at the wrong time. She knew nothing – but there lie a dead body.

What we all thought, and Pam verbalized it so well, was that in a few minutes someone’s life was about to change. Someone, maybe parents, maybe a wife or a husband, maybe a son or a daughter, was about to get a devastating phone call that would forever change their life. This person laying under the blanket on the cold blacktop could have been someone’s only daughter, or someone’s father, or a husband. And the person or people left behind were going to get a call in a few minutes that will be the worst call they will ever get.

“Hello, this is Sgt Smith from the CT State Police, can I please talk to….”    And that’s it.

Right now, that person can be playing tennis, or working in his office, or at school, or on vacation somewhere having an amazing trip. They are living day-by-day, very happy with their life. But that will all end very soon. With just one call their life’s path will forever be altered.

IFMost people who see this scene look at the body and feel sorry for that person who is dead. They probably died too young. He or she was such a wonderful person with so much to live for; they were taken from this world way too early. There are so many thoughts for that person. But they are gone. They feel no pain now.  They have no grief. They are somewhere else, wherever that may be. But they are no more – they will not cry for those they left behind, they will not grieve for leaving this earth. Wherever they were going, they will not get there, whatever they were doing, will never be completed. All of a sudden they are gone.

But those they left behind. As grieving parents, most of us have received that call. We may have been at work, or at home, in the middle of the night, or on our cell phones. We have received that call. The call from some unfortunate person forced to give us the news that our child is gone. Gone forever from our lives. Each and every one of us can tell you exactly what we were doing before that call. What we had planned for that day, plans that never got completed. We were happy, we were watching TV; we were enjoying ourselves and feeling lucky to have such great lives. We were just going merrily along looking forward to so much. Then we got that call.

DSC00677As grieving parents, yes we are sorry and feel for the person lying on the side of the road, bloody, covered, forever gone. But we feel for his or her parents, we connect with them. We feel for his or her wife or husband. We feel for the children left behind. We feel for that phone call. We relate to them so much more, we empathize with them – we are them. We are the ones who received that call which changed our lives. This call that devastated the happiness within our hearts. The call that forever changed the life path we were on.

All of a sudden.


12 thoughts on “All of a sudden

  1. Sally

    Spot on to what we grieving parents are going through, Perry,

    No question, we empathize deeply when we learn of someone else’s tragic loss of a beloved one, be it a parent, child, or sibling, very close friend or relative. As you say, “We are Them”

  2. Lorraine

    So very true. SInce I lost my son suddenly, I think of my life as “life before Greg died” and “life after Greg died”. Our lives changed that moment and we will never be the same

    1. Terri Lynn

      That is exactly how it is for my entire family. Everything is measured in “before Cory” and “after Cory” I pray for peace for all of us.

  3. anna giorgianni

    So very true, Perry, Our lives will never be the same, I got that call on a Sunday morning from the mom of my daughter’s friend she was living with. She wouldn’t hang up the phone until she reached my sister to come home and stay with me. All I remember is feeling sick to my stomach and I couldn’t think at all. My sister asked me who to call first and I couldn’t think ! I went from shock, to feeling this can’t be true, to devestation and heartache, MY heart will ache forever!

  4. Ann Zanette

    So very true. I lost my brother 41 years ago. He was 20 years old when he passed of unnatural causes. I remember the knock on the door from the local police, coming to speak with my Mom. Our lives changed in that one split second. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Two years later my Dad passed unexpectedly. He and my Mom had sold their home and were moving away from the small town we had grown up in. They couldn’t bare to stay anymore with all of the memories, it was too difficult for them. Before the move , they planned a two month “vacation”. Something they had never ever done …or would have thought about while raising 3 children. First stop – Turkey – my father had always wanted to meet family he never had met. The first night away, he ate fish and contracted mercury poisoning and passed away 8 days later. To this day I often say, my life would have been completely different had my brother lived. My Mom and Dad would never have sold their home, never have taken that trip, never would have thought of moving from our wonderful little town. I would have never had to move out on my own at 18 years of age because of that move, never have met my husband in the town I had moved to (ex husband now)…..and most likely never have had “my son”. What gives me the strength daily is knowing (or believing) that God had a plan. Why I will never know while on this earth. I will always miss my loved ones. But I KNOW they are with me. I feel it. 41 years later and I still feel them and know they are my “angels” guiding me and caring for me. But I often wonder…what would have been my life like?

  5. Susan wallace

    I wonder what the person thought as the accident occurred… Wait! I have to call… Not yet! I still have…to do. Just a minute, I need to tie up some lose ends… Hopefully, there is no time for them to think anything and just pass quickly.

    Looking at those horrible accidents on the side of the road, or hearing about disasters, mass killings and the like makes me cling even harder to those I love… Because I do have the luxury of saing, “Wait, just give me one minute.”
    My thoughts are with you, Dorothy and Nicole this Thansgiving and always.

  6. Pat Aho

    Some of us never received a phone call. We are the ones who found our child dead. WHAT?!! the all of the sudden is the same and life is forever changed.

  7. charles

    i received my call from his manager were my son worked. he just purchased his second motorcycle and showing it off to all his friends, as many of us do. he was was not show boating especially with something different and new to him. two hours after he purchased it a car did not see him when they back out of there driveway my son took evassive measures so he would not get hit, but instead he lost his life. my father an me were the last two family members to see him. my parents and i went to the accident seen. he was still there. like everyone of us have said they take apart of you with them.
    perry you have nailed it ob the head. i drive a big truck and trailer delivering livestock, so dealing with death is a everyday thing. as far ad driving the last 16 yrs. i have seen so many things blankets, interstates shutdown, life flight, and helped remove things off the highway but this is very different, but you never think it will hit your home.

  8. Terri Lynn

    I replay that day we lost my 20 year old nephew over and over every single day. Our lives will never be the same. I sometimes feel like I have PTSD. Every tragedy that I hear of I immediately pray for and think of the surviving family. Trying to pick of the shattered pieces of their lives. It is heartbreaking and you never get over it. The New Normal sucks.

  9. Pam & Joe

    Once again you sent a profound message and verbalized so succinctly all that I saw and felt in those fleeting moments as we passed that terrible accident scene. That person’s loved ones have now joined the ranks of those of us whose lives have been changed forever. I don’t know them, but my heart is with them this Thanksgiving Day.


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