We received the call somewhere in the wee morning hours and I was the one who responded. Apparently a young boy was involved and it was a car wreck. He had been out of state on a religious retreat and was with some friends; they were driving, he was 14. It wasn't late when the wreck happened, they hadn't been drinking, speeding or doing drugs. If I remember it right, there were a group of four driving in a jeep and he was in the back seat. With permission, they had left the camp where they were staying and were on their way to get ice cream when it happened. I never knew the full details of the accident other than the remaining 2 passengers and the driver were not seriously hurt at all. One of the other passengers had a broken leg; that I remember from the funeral.
The next day when I met with his parents and sister there was no way to even begin speaking with them. Each of them was more distraught than the other with what appeared to be his sister showing it the worst. Apparently they were extremely close and she was now an only child - instantaneously. The family was able to tell me that they had been told that their son never felt anything and had died on contact with the other vehicle. I think that was some sort of relief for them even though their boy was now laying in our preparation room. It's times like this when my heart actually aches and I want to help them but know that there isn't much I can do but get them through the next few weeks. This is something that will affect the rest of their lives yet I can't be there forever.
They made the necessary selections and plans for the funeral and basically went through the motions of being involved. They didn't want to be there with me nor did they want to participate in the burial of their son. Not because they didn't care, but because they were in so much pain that life didn't really matter for them during that time. Hundreds of people were in attendance at his funeral and burial and I'm sure that meant a lot to the family but after all was said and done they went hone to their house with an empty bedroom where he once slept.
I helped them with the monument that they purchased for their boy and all three of them were involved in it's planning. It has colored drawings on it, etchings of musical instruments, photos, and biblical inscriptions. Every year they put up a Christmas tree in the cemetery right next to the faded stuffed animal that's been there since he has. It is a true monument, not just a grave marker. Years have passed and they seem to be doing well. Both parents are somewhat adjusted and have accepted the loss, his sister has gone on to college and I'm told she's faring well. I still keep in touch with them from time to time and am glad I do. This is the kind of help I want to give, understanding, caring and true concern.