We use the words widow, widower, and orphan but there is no word in our vocabulary that identifies the bereaved parent. So, I’ve coined the term willower. From the words willow, a weeping tree that has come to symbolize deep mourning. And power, for the sheer determination and inner strength required to carry on, despite the worst loss.
I’ve experienced the insanity of grief and the silence and aloneness that follows the death of a child. On Monday, April 30, 2007, my nine-year-old son, Sam, collapsed on the playground at school and died from sudden cardiac arrest* caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).**
Nothing ever takes away the pain, but I’ve learned that the right words and wisdom can make a positive difference in the ongoing process of readjusting to life after this kind of loss.
I’ve created Willower.org and Willow Post to write about mindfulness, mourning, motherhood, and the memory of my child, and also to share thoughtful text, resources, stories, poetry, and quotes. Right now, I’m hard at work on a memoir, which is why my posting here may be infrequent. But I’m still here, rewriting life after loss.
I hope to make a positive impact on those who are adjusting to the vacuum left by a child’s death. To offer the right words, guidance or wisdom, and maybe even company in the darkest and loneliest of moments. And, to honor the memory of my son, Sam—aspiring writer, magician, and wise old soul.
Willower.org is for:
- Those who have experienced loss, especially the death of a child
- Those who are seeking words of depth, value, and inspiration
- Those who have an interest in supporting or counseling the bereaved
*According to the American Heart Association, 295,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur each year, and 5,760 children under the age of 18 (16 children each day) will suffer SCA.
** The major abnormality of a heart with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is an excessive thickening of the heart muscle without an obvious cause. Under a microscope the heart muscle cells appear disorganized and in disarray, normal cell alignment is lost. The abnormality of the heart muscle in HCM can sometimes interfere with the electrical signal that is sent—one for every heartbeat—through the heart, causing a malfunction or complete electrical failure. The risk of sudden death, or SCD, Sudden Cardiac Death, is estimated to be between 1-2% of the HCM population, and premature death can occur without warning.