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A Childs Legacy


A few houses from my house was a large sign that filled a front window: "Madeline Lives." Although she died some months before, Madeline does live and so does every child that has been taken too soon from his/her families and friends. Our spiritual beliefs explain the manner in which life continues after death, but what I want to share with you are my thoughts about the way that a child lives here in our earthly existence, even after that child has died.swings

A father observed that it seems like the death of a child leaves such carnage, and his words really made me think. It absolutely does seem as if life as we have known it is completely destroyed following the death of a child. Grief permeates every aspect of our existence, and joy seems banished from our souls. The darkness that has settled in around us is often suffocating and dawn seems like a remote possibility at best. I just can't help but to wonder if chaos and destruction is truly a fitting legacy for a child so loved and cherished?

What is the proper legacy of a child? She didn't have a chance to invent anything or find a cure for a disease or write famous books, so what is her legacy? I believe a child's legacy is all that is left in the hearts and lives of those s/he touched in life. If teenagers are kinder because they have learned that no classmate is immortal, then that is part of the legacy left by their friend who died during those "carefree" high school years. If a family member now easily extends caring support to a grieving person because that pain is so familiar, then compassion is part of a child's legacy. If an uncle returns to school so that he can learn how to help bereaved families, then that helping heart is part of his nephew's legacy.

I believe that those touched by a child who has died create a part of his/her legacy. Therefore, we have choices about a child's legacy, and I believe that no child deserves a legacy of carnage and destruction. We cannot escape grief, but I believe that we can make choices about the legacy that honors and remembers a child.

Our children transform us, both in life and in death. Once given to us, not even death can take them away. They live on in the hearts and minds and lives of all they have touched. There is no sense in the death of a child, but we can create a legacy that honors the meaning of a child's life. I encourage you to think about what qualities you most loved about your child, and carry those on in your daily lives. And I ask you to reach out to those loved by your child, especially your husband or wife, sons and daughters; grief can be so isolating at the time when we most need each other.

Your child would not want to be the cause of unhappiness and misery and destruction in the lives of those s/he loved. While your sorrow and grief have a necessary place in your life, so too does all that was good and wonderful about your child. Perhaps all of us need a sign in our window reminding us that our loved one lives so that we can be mindful that our lives now reflect the legacy of a special person who lives on through us.

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