Life, Grief And The Worst Nightmares Families Face

Reflections on life and deathLast night I was in my hotel room watching TV and once again I was reminded about how fragile life is. Two heartbreaking stories were on different channels, showing two sides of the same coin: the death of those you love the most. One reflected a child’s worst nightmare, the other, a parent’s worst.

On Hispanic TV, the accident that claimed the lives of Mexican American music superstar Jenni Rivera, her publicist, makeup artist and crew members received non stop coverage. My heart broke for their families. As a mom, I got chills watching an old interview in which Jenni, a mom of 5, said she felt she had lived a full life, but that she worried about what would happen to her children if she were to die. That is every mother’s main worry when confronted with the possibility of not being with her children to see them grow up. Every single time I get on a plane, my anxiety level skyrockets. Especially if there is turbulence. I pray and always hope for the best. I know it would be my kids’ worst nightmare to lose me.

On CNN, in the meantime, they aired again an interview with Madonna Badger, a mom who lost her three daughters and parents last Christmas during a fire in her Connecticut home. That is every mother’s nightmare. Losing one child is devastating, but all of them and your parents? There. Are. No. Words.

As the end of the year approaches, with all the holiday festivities, I cannot help but think how hard it is for those who are dealing with a tragic loss. Madonna said this has been an awful year, full of firsts without her daughters. Now, she will face Christmas, the first anniversary of the fire, with orphaned girls in Thailand. She will bring her daughters’ toys with her to give to children who have lost their families. Hopefully this will bring some kind of comfort to all of them.

Hours later, I learned of the news that Jenni Rivera’s children are trying to make sense of the nightmare they are living. Her youngest still cannot accept it, while some of his sisters turned to music for solace.

Yes, life is too short. Life is fragile. We never know why tragedies like plane accidents, fires, terminal illnesses, car crashes or storms strike a certain person or family. I don’t even know how you find the will to continue living, to find a purpose to the pain and the loss, but I have seen how people find strength when they are at their weakest.

As I reflect on all of this, all I can think about is how much I wish that instead of being in New York for work, I could hug my children, kiss my husband, hug my parents, and tell all those I love how much they mean to me. And I will. Tonight. I can’t wait.

And I will keep families like the Riveras and the Badgers in my prayers, so they find strength to carry on despite their grief.

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