On May 2, 2014 Jacqui and Dan Saldana lost their 3-year-old son, Ryan. Although I never met him, a piece of my heart broke off when he died. I learned about Ryan, while he still graced the planet, from my niece Molly.
I still think a lot about that searing winter when the dead and the living were juxtaposed, each clamoring impossibly to be understood. I remember the white-hot grief and the blunt-force trauma of my sudden loss, and also the sweet presence of my little boy, playing with blocks.
A therapist or psychiatrist may or may not be helpful to a bereaved parent. But a friend who can listen generously and non-judgmentally, recognizing that there is no "fix" for this tragedy, will probably be greatly valued.
The holidays can be a magical time of year, but for children who have experienced the death of a significant person in their lives, the season can be an emotional minefield. It also poses challenges for still-grieving family members and caregivers around them.
As a parent, as a bereaved sister, I feel more than I could ever express in words for the mourners of the victims in the Newtown, Conn., shootings. My son Simon is now 4 ½ years old, barely two years younger than those first-graders.