Thoughts on the Death of My Son Eight Years After

Eight years ago on this day, the 27th of May, my son died. Thus, began for us who loved him, and love him still, a journey of mourning and grief from which I sometimes feel there is no way back. In a sense, this is true. Having walked through the valley of death, by way of lamentations for those we lost, we can never return. At least not as we once were.

For one thing, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis in his classic “A Grief Observed”, some aspects of my fatherhood must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will I have my son on my knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see my grandchild.

Or get a haircut together. And share some burger and fries after. Which we used to do on a regular basis, just the two of us.

Still, I cling to memories and mementos of our time together, specially books, which he loved. It gave me indescribable pleasure to read to him, most often in bed just before sleeping. A particular favorite, “The Sailor Dog”, about a dog that always wanted to go to sea and realizes his dream, has pride of place in my bookshelf.

He would have been fourteen now, going on fifteen. Try as I might, I have trouble envisioning him as a young teenager. In my unimaginative mind, he will always be six going on seven.

For now, my own words fail me and I have to borrow that of Gordon Livingston, a bereaved father who lost a son the same age as Lui:

Parents who have lost a child speak of the “zero point”. Our lives are divided into the time before and the time after our children died. No event — no graduation, no marriage, no other death — so defines us. At one moment I was one person, then, suddenly, I was someone else. The task we face is to create with our new selves something that, in some measure redeems our suffering. We plant gardens, establish memorials, cherish our children’s memories and help those who must struggle, as did we, with despair. We read stories of other parents bereft; sometime we reach out to them with our experience of bearing the unbearable.

We see, always with longing, children who remind us of what our child was or would be now.

My view of death has changed. I fear it more for those I love but less for myself. I have the curious confidence of one to whom the worst has happened.

We have been humbled but not broken. If it is true that our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses, then it perhaps follows that these terrible losses can ultimately ennoble us — if we can persevere through our pain to cherish what remains.

And so, as I contemplate the western horizon of my life, I think of my son with exquisite sadness and profound gratitude. He evoked in me a capacity for love I did not know I had. Those feelings did not die with him, nor will they, I pray, die with me.

34 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Death of My Son Eight Years After”

  1. i have read all the blogs regarding the death of luijoe and how you and your wife suffered for his lost,i justwant to offer some prayers for his death anniversary..

    more power,
    michelle

  2. My own words also fail me in this situation, because I know not the feeling of losing a son..

    As I can only do, I offer my prayers on this solemn day for you and your family.

  3. i don’t think there are “right words” to say or do except to express that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  4. My heart goes out to you. You are so very articulate. You have given me a way to describe the before and after. I had simply said “all that we were had been torn away, we were brand new children standing there in adult bodies after we heard those terrible words “Chris is Dead!” The zero point is a great way to describe it.

    Thank your for your great blog and beautiful memorial to your son.

  5. I also lost a brother 16 years ago and it still is a very painful topic for my family. I hope your family could pull through this together.

    I wish your family the best.

  6. @Cocoy, thank you for your kind concern. The grief process, and life in general, is a journey and road is made easier to travel when I meet friends like you.

    @Benj, being no stranger to grief makes it easier for you to reach out to others in compassion. This, I believe, is an important aspect of your being an effective healer. Thank you for your friendship.

  7. sir butch:

    condolences on your son’s death anniversary. i hope you find peace and serenity; i can only imagine how it’s like to lose a son.

    marck

  8. Hi Butch,

    I have a son turning eight in July and I was profoundly affected by the pictures you posted of your son and some of the reading I did after finding out from Nick.

    Having a son myself does not at all help me even begin to imagine what you’ve gone through.

    All the best to you and your family and thanks for sharing all this.

  9. @Pat Dazis, thank you for the kind words. “Zero point” was Gordon Livingston’s phrase, not mine, but yes it is an apt description, isn’t it ? Zero point is where we move on to a “new normal” after a catastrophic loss. Things will never be the same, we will never be the same, but we move on, despite our hurt and hopefully, find some measure of meaning and understanding in our pain. Be well.

    @Marck, thanks for the concern and sympathy. Peace and serenity, I suppose, is a wish and a prayer for all of us.

  10. Reading about your son always brings tears to my eyes. My little boy is turning 3 years old, and until now, I don’t feel that his Dad cares about him at all (I’m a single mom, just recently settled legal stuff with the dad). Your thoughts about spending father and son moments touches my heart, and I wonder why some dads are not like you and the other good dads…

    Anyway, I am just glad that your son has experienced your love. Not every kid gets to experience that. 🙂 Have peace.

  11. while a lot of pre-meiji restoration writing speak of the sword being the soul of the samurai, it seems clear to me that it is your son’s memory that is a large part of this sword of yours.

    my sympathies with your continuing journey.

  12. i chanced upon you blogsite by accident and i just can’t help but drop a line to offer my sympathies to you and your family.

    i have a 10-year old son and i cannot even bear the thought of losing him.

    may God bless you.

  13. My prayers to your son luijoe and your Family. I have read your wife blog too. Losing a member of the Family is really so painful. I know time will heal the pain but memories will still linger. Your angel is now in the hands of our Creator and I do believe He will always be there to touch His loving parents and other members of the Family. Love both you blogs.

  14. You have a beautiful boy. What a wonderful angel he must be in God’s heaven. I was touched by your family’s story and send you all peace and blessings from Los Angeles.

  15. Thanks, Momnificent, for the kind words. You have a terrific blog, too. Hope all is well you and the familiy.

  16. i cant imagine how painful it was…i,m
    trying to stop my tears as i read your story.i pray that it will not happen to me or to any parents.i pray that you and your wife will continually recieve the gift of courage and faith.GODBLESS!!!

  17. May God continue to bless you and your family with His grace and comfort.
    Luijoe was so blessed to have had loving parents. Continue to be strong. Godbless you always.

  18. i want to leave some comments after reading your sad stories about your son but i dont have any words to say now..im crying while doing this..just be strong always..i will pray for your little angel!

  19. I hope I will sound as wise and peaceful as you do years from now. Our only child died from brain cancer six months ago. She was 6. My husband and I are still struggling with our grief and emotions.

  20. Like you, I too have lost a son–I still remember and pain for him 5 years after he died.

    It is not in the natural order of things that parents should bury their children. It must be the other way around.

  21. reading about your son in your wife’s and your blog gives me a better appreciation of my own 3 children who are all under 6 years old. i often get exasperated with them and sometimes feel overwhelmed by their “kakulitan”.

    but now i try to be more patient and understanding of their needs. thank you both for that and God bless your whole family 🙂

  22. Thank you for the kind words, April, ADZ, Ann and Celeste. It’s people like you that keep us going.

    Leny, our prayers are with you and your family. Know that you are not alone in your journey.

    Dennis, we draw strength from each other’s unique stories. We will be with our sons and daughters some day.

  23. I have also lost 3 in my womb 7 years ago. I have a 6 year old now and I feel your pain.

    What’s the point of having a family if it all ends at death? I know that there is a life after death and someday we will all see each other again. How great will be that day? I hope that you, too, are looking forward for that day when we see our loved ones who have gone before us.

  24. I was thinking about 2000, looking at your diary and feeling your grief. This was when my 1st son was born. He is 8 going on 9 now. You and your wife have come a long way through dark places..places I hope that I will never visit. Your son changed you and is still changing you…. You were blessed and so was he. You’re a good man brother. Please accept an embrace from a friend far away… NIck in London

  25. I was browsing the web to get some recipes when I chanced upon your wife’s blog that lead me to this one.

    I have 2 daughters -one is turning 11 next month and the other turned 9 recently.

    I know what it means to love a child but I don’t ever want to know and experience how to lose a child.

    Please accept my prayers and embrace. I am crying as I write this.

    May God’s comfort and peace be with you.

    Sylvia

  26. Yes, it is very apt that it is called zero point…that time where our life “shifts” from this certain plane we live on and then, suddenly something terrible happens and everything is no longer the same…
    I couldn’t stop crying when I read your wife’s blog first and then yours. I have a son he’s 11 now, and daughter, whose turning 10 this year. Although I’ve had my share of lost loved ones, I must admit I don’t know how it feels to lose a child, i can only begin to imagine.
    My only, only consolation in all of the things that do happen to us in grief or pain, is that it happens for a reason. I’m really sorry that it had happeed to you and your wife. I sincerely hope things are better..God bless..

  27. hello
    i was brought to your blog by accident , and i cant say how many thoughts ran through my head as i scrolled down. this page must feel like it if full of never ending grief but having lost a child myself i can assure you , you will remember him with happyness and joy in your heart.

  28. to the warrior lawyer, i am a mom of two wonderful kids and upon reading through your words i can very much empathize with you. i lost a brother at an early age but the grief of losing never left me ( i know it remained as well with my dad and mom) and with that lose i promised my self to say my love to my children every day. I also appreciate you for sharing your thoughts and feelings…it gives hope to others…

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