3 Cliches That Are Comforting When A Friend’s Child Dies

This last week has been a grueling one for a beautiful family, along with the momosphere. Gavin Leong, age 5 and 1/2, passed away. His mom, Kate Leong, writes the beloved blog Chasing Rainbows; it was a finalist for Parent’s annual Blog Awards. Gavin went into cardiac arrest last Wednesday following a seizure, and died on Sunday evening. The outpouring of love and support on Kate’s blog and Facebook has been tremendous. So many of us were wishing for the miracle and, when it became clear that Gavin wasn’t going to make it, we sent countless thousands of prayers and supportive messages.

I have experienced other tragedies —a friend’s untimely death, my father’s passing, my son’s stroke at birth—but never the death of a friend’s child. As I’ve struggled with despondency, bewilderment and anger, I’ve found comfort in some basic life truths:

Humans have amazing resiliency.

I never realized how much strength a parent could possess until I saw the photos Kate put on Facebook of her rocking Gavin to sleep in the hospital and holding him for the last time, and her blog posts about his final days. She had a choice: She could have melted into a private puddle of agony. She chose strength, the extreme kind. Just thinking of it will surely bolster others during hard times.

Out of bad can come good.

Kate and her husband did not hesitate to offer Gavin’s organs for donation. On the day he died, her 43rd birthday, Kate asked readers to participate in a project: Help someone out, share the message of Gavin’s story, pay it forward. She listed suggestions: Give old toys to a special needs classroom. Help a stranger unload groceries. Bring magazines to a local hospital for parents spending time there with a child. And many, many people took her up on her suggestion.

One person can change the world.

Gavin was so young, but his impact far surpassed his years. As Kate wrote in a post, ”If you didn’t know him or realize how he touched people’s lives, just look at the outpouring of comments and Facebook posts and blog posts about him. People have been inspired by him over the years—and continue to be inspired by him now—and I know in my heart, that, even in his death, that won’t change.”

Amen.

From my other blog:

The gift of everyday gratitude

For the love of a child who is gone—but will keep on changing the world

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