Today marks four months since the tragic death of my son Christian. I knew the holidays would be hard, but they were more difficult than I could have imagined. I thought I might be able to come through them a bit refreshed; but instead, I feel more like I did in the days and weeks right after his death. So, is there life after Christian? The short answer is yes, but it is a very different life that too many parents are forced to endure.

For the last 25+ years, my primary purpose was to be there for my three children. The older two have flown the nest to Hawaii and Alaska respectively, but Christian was 15 and still living at home. We “knew” we had at least three more years with him at home, and the rest of our lives to see him continue to grow into the amazing person we loved so dearly. He was the best of us, and now he’s no longer with us. I can’t help but feel as though my purpose in life is gone as well, at least for now.

Over these past 122 days, I have experienced a range of emotions, and rarely has a day gone by where tears have not fallen. My baseline emotion during this time has been sadness. There are moments where I am able to smile, have some fun and almost forget the pain for a few fleeting moments, only to come back to the stark reality that my son is not coming home. That I will never again receive a call or text from him starting the conversation with, “Hey, Padre!” That I will never again experience his infectious smile, his life-affirming laugh, or feel that parental comfort in hugging your child tightly.

Am I angry? At times. I am angry at the circumstances around how he tragically died. But sadness is still the overwhelming emotion at this point. Denial still rears its head, as my head and heart are still not completely in sync. The emptiness I feel inside cannot be adequately described, and I realize that nothing will ever again come close to filling it completely.

I’ve been through seven Audible books on the loss of a child and managing grief, so I know this journey has only just begun. I pray a lot. I ask God to wrap his arms around Christian for me. I ask Him to be with those who have been negatively impacted by this tragedy and have to live in its aftermath. For me, I ask God to help me find Peace and Purpose in all of this, as I can’t bear to let Christian die in vain. Something good must come from this, as that might be the only way I am able to truly live again.

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