Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
March 26, 2001
Overcoming the loss of a Child
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Losing a child is a devastating experience but it's possible to move beyond the loss and enjoy life again.
Barbara Storr, a St. Albert insurance broker, knows that first hand. Nine years after losing her four-month-old baby, she is still grieving but now her pain has lessened and she is able to view life differently.
"I have a hole in my heart that's never filled," she says. "I don't know if I'll ever get over it, but I believe I've survived."
Like all wounds, grief goes through stages and leaves a scar. Pain, anger and guilt are normal feelings. The important thing is to deal with them.
Storr, a mother of two, only learned to deal with her feelings in 1995, when she and her husband separated and she joined New Beginnings, a Catholic organization for separated, divorced and widowed people.
Based on the New Beginnings' experience, Storr and other grieving parents have created a retreat to help parents cope with the death of a child.
Called Moving Beyond, the weekend retreat is designed to help people who have experienced the death of a child of any age to move beyond the death.
"It's called Moving Beyond because you don't necessarily get healed but you move to another level," Storr noted. "The weekend will give them knowledge. We give them a chance to talk."
Storr recalls being consumed by guilt for years following the death of her son Corey in 1992. "For two years I walked like I was numb," she said.
What made it worse were the circumstances of Corey's death. He died of lethal head injuries while being cared for by a babysitter, who was later charged with the baby's death and tried.
Reliving Corey's gruesome death at the well-publicized trial and seeing the babysitter's acquittal was hard to take.
"The thing I had to live with was guilt," Storr recalls. She eventually forgave the babysitter and declined to pursue the matter any further. But Storr could not forgive herself.
How could she have left a four-month-old under a babysitter's care? What kind of a mother was she? Why didn't she stay home with Corey?
Well, she couldn't. The Storrs weren't well off and Barbara had to work outside the home.
A year after Corey's death, the Storrs had another son, Aaron, now eight. The happy event could not erase the memories or ease the pain. When Aaron went to kindergarten, Storr cried because Corey had never had the chance.
Three years after losing her son, Storr also lost her husband Randy through separation - a common occurrence among couples grieving the loss of a child. The split led her to New Beginnings, where she learned to grieve both the end of her marriage and the death of her son.
Through the sessions, Storr realized she had been suppressing her feelings and opened up. "I was in denial, I was avoiding the truth that my son was dead," she recalled. "It was New Beginnings that helped me to forgive myself." Years after Corey's death, she was finally ready to grieve him.
"(Now) I remember my son very lovingly," she said. "We had him for 100 and some days. If anything, he made us laugh."
The Storrs donated Corey's organs and a little girl who had just hours to live got his heart. She is still alive. "In a way, I feel that my son lives on." Storr was a facilitator at New Beginnings for two years and then decided to adapt that retreat format to help those who have lost children. That's how the upcoming Moving Beyond retreat came about. Psychologist Rose-Marie Hague, a professor at St. Joseph's University College, helped Storr in the process.
The retreat, to be held at Star of the North Retreat Centre April 27-29, will be led by Storr and a team of trained men and women who have each lost a child.
For more information contact Rose-Marie Hague at 435-4398.
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