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  • Sarah Menzies

Unexpectedly

It feels like there are stories in the media every day regarding the deaths of children's and young adults. I don't know if I'm just more attuned to it, unable to not live the moment with them, the crushing realisation of permanent change.


The reality is that the parents of these children awoke on the day of their deaths or diagnosis expecting a day like any other. By the time they go to bed nothing will ever be the same again.


It was this juxtaposition of what I expected to happen and what actually happened that I found hardest to understand.


I was very keen in those first few weeks to explain that Lauren died suddenly and unexpectedly. I wanted people to know I wasn't expecting this. I'm not really sure why that was so important to me. Why it was so crucial for me to say it? Did I think it somehow meant I was deserving of more compassion? Possibly by vocalising it I was trying to grasp what had happened, maybe I was trying to warn others that it could happen to them too.


No one expects their child's death, no one sends their child out to football training thinking it might be the last time they see them alive, or takes their child to the doctors to find they have something incurable. But it happens - all the time. And that's the reality in our modern, wealthy country where you don't need to factor in the problems of famine & war.

I don't know what the answer is. We can't go around worried that something awful will happen at any minute. That would be terrible existence. But we can be aware that life can, and often is, pretty shit.


Maybe if we were a little more honest, a little less "social media ready", we would be able to reduce some of these deaths. The teenagers who feel that life is already too hard to be able to carry on, the broken families who never saw it coming.


Maybe one of the lessons we need to teach our children is that life is tough. That we should be saddened, but not shocked, when a child dies. That bad things happen, but they don't need to define us.


And as individuals we could all do well to remember that the unexpected does happen, that there may not be a "next time" or "in a bit", that we are not as busy as we think and we need to make time for the important things and say the important words.




"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller










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