My husband informed me that his sister had had two sons, but that one had died two years ago, in a plane crash, not far from our home. His words struck me deep in my heart. I could not help it; I began to cry. I cried all day. I was so heartbroken for his sister.
My husband was separated from his paternal family as an infant. We, my husband and I, have been married for 29 years, and for 29 years, we have diligently searched for them. My husband did not share his father's last name. Indeed, until recently, he did not even know it. It was not until this past summer when our youngest daughter went back east to visit her grandmother (my husband's mother), that she was able to extract secret information regarding my husband’s father. Our daughter is a genealogist sleuth, and with just the slightest clue, she can discover all sorts of lost information. With the few clues she pulled from her grandmother, she located my husband's family within just a few hours.
Over the years, my husband has always insisted that deep down inside he knew he had a sister. It turns out he was right. His sister, who lost her son two years ago, is slightly older than my husband and knew him as an infant. She has actually been looking for my husband all of these years. Although she has a different mother, she lived in the same household with my husband upon his birth. As older siblings do, she assisted in his care until the parent's relationship severed. Although my husband was an infant at the time, and could not consciously remember his sister, he had bonded with her and longed for her love. The sudden loss of his older sister's love and companionship caused him, even as an infant, to grieve for her. It has been a sadness and a burden that he has carried for 58 years.
As an older sibling, his sister was consciously aware of losing her younger brother. She remembered cuddling with him when he was tired, changing his diapers, carrying him on her hip, pacifying and playing with him, as well as many other things older siblings do for their younger siblings. She thought she knew his name; however, her searches for him were unsuccessful as she was unaware they did not share their father’s last name. As a young girl, she was confused and traumatized by their sudden separation. Suddenly, she was no longer allowed to speak of him; nor see him ever again. She, like my husband, grieved their loss.
When the plane crashed near our home two years ago, my husband and I were upset. As private pilots, we were aware of the accident, and as funeral home owners, we felt great sorrow for the young pilot’s family. We did not know, however, that the young pilot was indeed a member of our family. The news that the young pilot was my husband's nephew, and the knowledge that we had not ever had the opportunity to know him, devastated me. I instantly felt guilty that we had not been unable to comfort his mother during such a profound and devastating loss.
I immediately wrote her a condolence card. I told her that we love her, that we are thankful to have found her, and that she and her family are forever in our thoughts, hearts, and prayers. There is no way I can possibly understand the depth of her pain. I can, however, offer her an ear to talk to, my experience as a funeral director and certified grief counselor, and a reunion in Hawaii to reunite with her baby brother whom she has grieved, and for whom she has searched, for nearly 57 years.
I know a reunion will not make up for the loss of her son, but it will right a wrong that she and my husband have suffered long enough. Oh, the things parents do to their children, and then one day, either they or their children are gone. I am sure that when my husband’s parents severed their relationship and separated my husband and his sister; they did not realize the trauma it would cause in the hearts and minds of their children. Surely, if they had understood the grief that would follow, they would have done everything within their power to avoid devastating their children in such a painful way.
Death causes a complete or total separation from someone you love. The ensuing pain is so intense, and causes so much confusion, that the survivor is in jeopardy of depression and even death itself if recovery is not obtained. My husband and his sister suffered total separation from each other at very young ages. They have lived with the ensuing grief and confusion for nearly 57 years. As with death, their loss was instant, it was complete, and they did not understand what had happened to them.
I have learned many great lessons from my husband's experience; many I would not wish upon others. I would, however, beseech you to make the most of every moment you have with your families before it is too late. The most profound responsibility we have on earth is to love and protect our families and each other. It is my fervent prayer that neither you nor I, are ever severed from the ones we love through the ill-conceived actions of others or premature death. I have seen this pain. It is truly too great to bear, and many remain lost in its clutches throughout their days.
My husband’s father suffered death before my daughter found his family. He will never know him. His aunts and uncles have also died; he will never know them either. His nephew died prematurely in a plane crash, close to our home two years ago; we did not even know he was a member of our family.
We all must suffer death; it is a fact that must be accepted. Intentional separation of family members, due to feuding and many other reasons, however, is a cruel choice. As adults and parents, we must accept our responsibilities to protect and nurture our children. If total separation from others becomes necessary to protect them, they deserve, just as with death, to know what is happening. Although you will not be able to stave off the ensuing sadness, loneliness, and confusion that will follow; such knowledge will assist them through their painful years of grief and recovery.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, certified grief counselor, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.