April 21, 1997 12:00 PM

The death of a child is surely the most devastating event in a parent’s life, and many readers responded to our stories of celebrities’ tragedies (PEOPLE, March 31) with accounts of their own heartbreaking losses. Wrote one mother, Susan Kroohs of Wappingers Falls, N.Y., whose 21-year-old son Scott died in a drowning accident: “Losing a child can only be compared to having open-heart surgery without benefit of anesthetic.”

THE MOURNING AFTER

I, as a mother, cannot fathom the void that the loss of a child would create. After reading the article, I went into my 3-year-old son’s room and just thanked God for him and the time we’ve had together. I once heard the saying, “The word for someone who loses a spouse is widow, the word for someone who loses their parents is orphan, but the loss of a child is so great that there is no word to describe it.”

CORTNEY FISHER, via e-mail

I used to think that if I ever lost one of my children I could never survive it. Then on March 23, 1996, my 26-year-old son Eric was killed when his motorcycle slammed into the back of a semi. I have learned that all you can do is survive, one day at a time.

PAT MILLER, Bradenton, Fla.

Ten years ago my bright, handsome 20-year-old son committed suicide. Sally Jessy Raphaël is right—every single day is hard, some worse than others. I hate Mother’s Day. Passover (the last time I saw him) is agony. I tried drinking to kill the pain, but it didn’t work. Alcoholics Anonymous is the only thing that has brought me some peace and serenity and given me a place where I can talk about my son when I need to.

NAME WITHHELD

Other readers wrote to recommend The Compassionate Friends, an international self-help support organization for families who have lost a child, regardless of age or cause of death. The organization may be contacted at: P.O. Box 3696, Oak Brook, Ill. 60522-3996. Telephone: 630-990-0010.—ED.

While I sympathize with those celebrities who have suffered the loss of a child, and I do not in any way mean to belittle their loss, I would imagine they “find the courage to go on” the way we all do when we suffer a loss. However, 99 percent of the population must do it without the assistance of millions of dollars, an entourage catering to their every whim and endless tributes to their “courage.”

NANCYE C. BOGGS, Russellville, Ky.

We lost our beautiful 16-year-old daughter Jordan a little over a year ago. We are not rich or famous, but the pain of losing a child is the same for any parent. A friend who recently lost her son confided, “I’m not scared of dying. I’m scared of living.” There is a lot of truth in that.

LISA KENNEDY, Metropolis, Ill.

Take it from a grieving father whose daughter died inexplicably in her crib three years ago at the age of 21 months, the celebrities who bared their grief to PEOPLE’S audience have done us all a world of good and honored all our children. Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart.

GARY GRANT, Earlysville, Va.

I was touched by the stories of the celebrities who have lost children, but I was deeply saddened by Sally Jessy Raphaël’s story. She sounds so hopeless. I lost my 20-year-old son last May in the Valujet crash. My heart was broken and the ache is still there, but I have received comfort from my faith in God. I know I will see my son again. That is what gives my heart true joy now. It is possible to cope with a tragic loss but not without God.

JANE LATHEM, via e-mail

I saw red when I read that Ennis Cosby’s killer, Mikail Markhasev, supposedly called all blacks punks and stated, “[We] don’t need those people here.” He was tragically mistaken. The people of America who have spent generations building this country and are trying to end hatred during our lifetimes don’t need Mr. Markhasev.

J. L. MAYES, Palisade, Colo.

TRACY LAWRENCE & STACIE DREW

Congratulations to Tracy and Stacie. However, I am appalled at the audacity of Stacie, who “encouraged the trimming” of Tracy’s hair and mustache. Did she fall in love with the person Tracy Lawrence, or is she molding him into the person she wants him to be? Stacie: Why fix it if it ain’t broke?

LAURA JENKINS SIMMONS, Smiths, Ala.

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