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Monday, November 28, 2011
Survival and Grief
Today is the third anniversary of the sudden death of my youngest son, who was 12 1/2. He was well, and died following a wonderful Thanksgiving Day in which he played a rigorous game of soccer with older teens. The following morning, he was well, got up, spoke to us about Christmas shopping and getting a cat, and then walked into the bathroom, collapsed and died. Despite rapid CPR and an emergency helicopter ambulance, we never revived him. Nothing was found on autopsy, and so the presumptive cause of death, is a spontaneous arrhythmia (or heart rhythm disturbance) of unknown cause. There has been talk of the possibility of a disorder known as Long QT Syndrome, but Daniel was never ill, and therefore never had an EKG. This will therefore forever remain as a theoretical possibility, and no more. The sudden loss of a healthy child, due to presumed heart rhythm disturbance, and NOT a heart attack, has been occurring more and more around the world and is now in the news fairly often. Our family's faith has been something that has helped us survive this.
I mention this because it is unreasonable to expect that you and your family will pass through life never being tested by a period of loss and of grief. Certainly, there are people who seem never to have things go wrong, but most of us do. Some of us experience great losses and great grief and sometimes multiple tragedies. I mention this today because in order to be a competent practitioner of preparedness there needs to be some forethought on grief and loss. Heaven forbid, if a natural disaster, or man-made one occurs, and a member of your family is lost, it will be important to tell yourself that they would not want you to lose your own life, sitting in a bubble of grief and failing to take actions which would ensure your survival and the survival of your remaining family. It is important to consider for a moment, what you would do should the unthinkable occur. "Freezing in place" has cost the lives of many as the sit within the shock of the loss of someone,or even when faced with the loss of one's home.
Please tell yourself that if anything horrible ever happens to someone you love deeply, that you will make the commitment to them, here and right now, to first, get out of harm's way, get help for yourself and other family members, eat and drink, deal with survivor guilt AFTER the emergency, and live to produce a meaningful monument to the loved one you have lost. Do this now, before the maelstrom of life tears at your resolve to do so.
One of my ways of memorializing Daniel is to pass along information we learned together which can help other families. Please make your mental preparations for challenges, economic, emotional, political, and others, now.