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Your Life: Holidays heighten pain of loss

Charlotte Lankard: The pain of loss is especially acute during the holidays for parents who've had a child die.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD, For The Oklahoman Published: December 10, 2012
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“My eyes fill with tears. What shall I do? Where shall I go? Who can quench my pain? My body has been bitten by the snake of ‘absence' and my life is ebbing away with every beat of the heart.”

Mirabai, 15th-century Indian poet

These thoughts are familiar to parents who've had a child die as they watch other mothers and fathers happily Christmas shopping for their sons or daughters.

The loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can face. A piece of themselves is lost, and their future is forever changed.

Miscarriages, stillbirths and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome bring feelings of yearning and despair.

Parents of murder victims find the suddenness of the death so overwhelming they are often incapable of processing through the grief.

Accidents, illnesses and deaths in war bring disorientation and a profound void. Cancer remains the No. 1 killer of children. The anguish begins with the diagnosis.

Regardless of the cause of death, mothers and fathers are left with the reality of the loss. What they had is gone. What they took for granted is missing. What they presumed would be, will not come to be.

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