July 10 extraordinary loss
Loss is different for each person. None of us can judge or measure the impact for another, but we can allow them to teach us the magnitude of their loss and how it has ffected them. We can honour that their grief journey is unique to them and the bumps and boulders they encounter along the path will not occur in the same place that it would for us. It’s an individual process with no specific timeframe.

Given my personal experience, I appreciate how twisty the road can be. I know that some days I did better than others and at times, I was a mess. I couldn’t predict when or how my pain would be triggered. It would just happen and when it did, it took hold rendering me incapacitated for hours or days. It was what it was.

Although my family and I (children, mother, siblings, nieces, nephews and extended family) were grieving multiple deaths in a short period of time, we had a small amount of time between each death. It wasn’t enough time to reconcile the loss of one person before another death occurred, and that complicated the journey for each of us. We were grieving a number of family members (my father, my husband, and my brother) and therefore, we were grieving the loss of a ‘family unit’ as we knew it.

In 2004, Marc Woerlen lost his pregnant wife Monika, and their seven children in a house fire while he was out of town on business. The newspaper picture of Mr. Woerlen carrying his baby girl’s casket in his arms spoke of an immeasurable loss. A beautiful wife, seven children, aged 11 years to 19 months, and an eighth baby on the way… and all at once, they were gone. I never met Mr. Woerlen, but his story deeply affected me.

The pictures of this man at the funeral show him surrounded by a large network of family and friends. He declared that his faith would get him through this insurmountable tragedy. I am confident that his religion did help him work through the process; however, I have often wondered … how does one work through the pain of losing every person in your family at one time? Not only would he grieve the loss of his ‘family unit’, but he had a special relationship with his wife and each one of his children, including his unborn son or daughter. His journey would require that he reconcile each one of those relationships. This is what I refer to as extraordinary mourning!

The death of a loved one is heartbreaking. The death of an entire family is ‘heartbreaking magnified’.

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