I recently learned that someone I know lost his son in an auto accident. His loss touched me deeply because I, too, lost a child that way many years ago. I immediately sat down and wrote him the following letter, which I’d like to share with you. And here are some pictures of my daughter, taken shortly before she died.
Please allow me to extend my heartfelt condolences at your sad loss. I, too, lost a child in an auto accident. I certainly know the devastating heart and soul pain you’re going through now. Nothing I can say can ease that sorrow. But I thought I could share some of what happened to me over the time after my daughter Tonja died in an accident at age 16 in 1989.
For me, the pain lasted a long time. The first year I was somewhat of a basket case. I was able to work but that’s about it. I really appreciated any and all help that my friends offered and I encourage you to do the same.
I would start crying at odd times, whenever anything reminded me of Tonja. Several times I’d have to pull over to the side of the road if this happened when I was driving. Certain songs would come on the radio and I’d be sobbing, no matter where I was.
As time went on the pain lessened. It never went entirely away, even to this day. From time to time something will happen to remind me of Tonja. Then I get a sort of wistful sorrow rather than the sharp pain I had at first. There’s a joy, too, in remembering her, along with sadness that I never got to meet the adult she would have become.
I have another daughter, Sage, who was 9 when her sister died. She suffered a lot after the accident. One important thought she said she had was, “Will I live to be older than my sister?” It was a very important milestone when she reached her 17th birthday.
For myself, I had a fear that I’d lose Sage somehow and that such a thing would destroy me. I worked to not let this fear make me overprotect Sage as she grew into maturity.