Remembering Hearts Forever Candle Lighting to be Held Sunday
BY LEANN DILBECK –
The day of and even the months that followed the death of Kristopher Youngblood are a blur for his parents, Charles and Rosanna, but one thing that is crystal clear to them is that while nothing hurts deeper than the death of a child, nothing can help the healing process more than reaching out to others and asking for help in coping.
“The first year was full of shock… numbness… denial. And then the second year, the fog starts to lift and the reality of it sits in… It’s really hard to say which is harder,” said Kristopher’s mother, Rosanna. “It was the worst day of our lives,” Charles continued as he spoke of the couple’s immense grief following the death of their only child.
Charles explained that the holidays are a particularly difficult time of year but that it is a loss that is felt year through. “There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about it… about him. It’s everyday… sometimes it’s just a song that triggers it,” he said. “The holidays just magnify the emotions,” said Rosanna.
The support the couple found in a local organization known as “Remembering Hearts Forever,” has played a vital role in the months, birthdays, and anniversaries that followed. For Rosanna, she was fortunate enough to already be familiar with the group and its founder Diane Mathis through a mutual friend and said that Diane quickly reached out to her. “I don’t really know how to describe it… it’s not necessarily a ‘comfort’… but it does help to talk to people who you know have felt your pain. Because, until it happens to you…”
The couple also realizes that they, unlike many couples who lose a child, have two blessings because Kristopher had two children, Alexis age 11 and Austin age 6, and it is through them, they are able to see glimpses of Kristopher. “They can just look at us a certain way… and we can see Kristopher or some little funny mannerism or saying,” said Rosanna, “It’s healing and painful all at the same time.”
Adding to the couple’s already devastating loss was that Kristopher’s death was a suicide. His mother explained that he had slipped into a depression after losing his uncle, whom he was close with, to a suicide. Several events precipitated from there and just as they thought he was rebounding, he took his own life. Through tears and pain that is still very raw, Rosanna explained, “I’ve been told it’s a different pain… I know it sure feels that way. You are always asking yourself ‘why?’ What could I have done? The guilt is always there… of thinking you could’ve done more… or because you smiled or laughed. I’d think I’m not suppose to do that… because I’ve lost my son.”
She aspires to be able to help others someday in the same way Diane has with Remembering Hearts Forever. And telling their story in hopes that it can help other bereaving parents is part of that process. “Sometimes it’s just more than you can bare,” said Charles, “and it’s nothing to be ashamed of to need help. Most people need some sort of therapy going through something like this.”
Rosanna encouraged grieving parents to not keep everything bottled up and the world shut out. “Cry… do it often… don’t keep it in. Grief comes in waves. “I once had an angel mom tell me to ‘grab my surf board and ride the wave.’ Take it as it comes. Take one day at a time… and slowly, you will learn to adjust to the new ‘normal…’ whatever that means.” She also advised to journal. “I put my feelings down on paper, wrote letters to my son, expressed how I really felt that day, moment and second.”
The couple gratefully have each other to lean on and spoke of the sweet memories uncovered when recently going through some of his childhood items in the garage. A proud momma spoke of how well he entertained himself as a small child and of his immense love for the sport of baseball, which he played from little league all the way through high school. She spoke of the pride Kristopher held in sharing his birthday with his grandmother. And they both fondly reminisced of Kristopher’s vivid imagination and a mountain that looked like a sleeping dragon. As he matured, Kristopher’s father described a son with a great sense of humor that was always very well liked by his peers.
They are grateful for the 29 years and 11 months they had with their son and while the void left by his young death will never be filled, they are resilient for their grandchildren and hope that they will see Kristopher’s quick wittedness and strong work ethic live on through his children.
The couple will be participating in an annual candle lighting ceremony held by Remembering Hearts Forever that will be this Sunday, December 8, at the Union Bank Community Room. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m.
It is the Youngblood’s hope that their story can help others engulfed in the pain to find an outlet in making a connection with other parents who understand their pain. “My heart is forever broken. I am forever changed. I am forever Kristopher’s mom.”