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Surviving The Loss Of A Child
June 23, 2012
By Mary Pechar
Pastor Cindy Wilson
Tribune Photo/Fred Poese
The loss of a child is perhaps the most heartbreaking loss an individual or family may experience. The overwhelming sadness, grief that seems insurmountable is a natural reaction. Missouri averages around 1,100 child deaths annually. Statistics from the Missouri Child Fatality Review Program indicate that on average 140 of those children are less than ten years of age.
Sophia Nicole Rose was just 7 ½ months old when she passed away April 17, 2010. For her grandmother, Cindy Wilson, her loss seemed magnified as she and her husband were raising Sophia while her mother completed college. The loss was magnified six months later with the loss of her 23 year old niece and her unborn child to leukemia.
Sophia’s parents are April Wilson and Chris Rose. They each found their own way to work through their horrific loss. April wrote ‘Keep Going’ on her left wrist to help her work through the grieving process. She has now replaced this with a permanent tattoo ‘Sophia’.
Cindy was then a Focus Room Teacher for R-7 schools and Worship Minister for Heaven’s Gate Gospel Church, now Acts of Faith Church in Lee’s Summit. She and her son, Nick are very involved in the churches llamas and alpaca’s ministry and also raise and show the animals, Showtime Llamas and Alpacas, http://showtimellamasandalpacas.org/
“You don’t know the strength you have until you have to rely on it,” Cindy said. “I withdrew; shut myself away with my music, crawling inside myself in order to re-build. When I was severely depressed I turned to the darkest, deepest classical music I could find. I always hear the voice of God louder when I am singing praise and worship music. The day after she died was the only day I didn’t sing. I ran straight to God and dove into music.”
Cindy talked about how you change. “You loose your fear of death,” she said. “You would welcome death, but you are not suicidal. You don’t ever recover, you learn to live with it and handle it better as time goes on. Whenever I would think, I can’t take it anymore, I would tell myself just hang on one more day; over and over again, just one more day. You put on your fake smile everyday and one day you find your smile is real.”
During some of her darkest days, Cindy received a call; she did not perceive the call to be to the ministry, but to biblical studies and counseling. The next day she filled out an application for the seminary. “You know it’s God when it isn’t something you plan,” she said. This was in September. By January she as an associate pastor and by February the only pastor for Acts of Faith Church. “We are affiliated with Acts Ministry out of Springfield, Missouri,” Cindy said. “I am probationary and the Bishop is my mentor. I believe that my life experiences serve me well as pastor.”
Shortly after loosing Sophia, Cindy moved out choosing to end her 20 plus year marriage. This was not a reaction to Sophia’s death but something that had been coming for a long time. “But,” Cindy said, “it changes your perception of everything. I have moved on, my daughter has moved on and is in a relationship with a wonderful guy. It’s possible we would still be where we were at if Sophia hadn’t left.”
Cindy’s understanding of herself and the demise of her marriage is supported by marriage experts Sheri and Bob Stritof.
Sheri and Bob have presented workshops on marriage for over 40 years and they have been the About.com Marriage experts since 1997. Married for 48 years they bring their own experiences to their writing. They have also suffered the loss of three of their seven children. Bob and Sheri received post-graduate training in family ministry at Regis College in Denver.
In an article for About.com Marriage, the Stritof’s discussed the impact of the loss of a child on a marriage.
“There are many who believe that there is an extremely high divorce rate (80-90%) when a couple loses a child. Those claims are based on statistics from a study done by Teresa Rando in 1985. (‘Bereaved parents: particular difficulties, unique factors, and treatment issues’, Social Work, vol. 30, p. 20). In 1999, another survey entitled When a Child Dies was conducted by The Compassionate Friends organization.
“The results about newly bereaved parents didn’t match the earlier findings. It is clear that although couples experience great stress; their marriages aren’t destined to fall apart. “Overall, 72% of parents who were married at the time of their child’s death are still married to the same person. The remaining 28% of marriages include 16% in which one spouse had died, and only 12% of marriages that ended in divorce ... Furthermore, even among the 12% of parents whose marriages ended in divorce; only one out of four of them felt that the impact of the death of their child contributed to their divorce.”
Cindy sought out understanding and support within the community and online resources. She meets regularly with a local group of grandmothers who have all suffered the loss of a grandchild. She also found support in the book A Child Died, a Father Cried…and God Answered by Mark Canfora.
Acts of Faith Church is located at 1221 SE Broadway Suite F, Lees Summit, Missouri 64081
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