DEAR ABBY: My beautiful 20-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. I am writing this not only for myself, but for all parents who have lost a child, and to all of the wonderful people who asked, "What can I do for you?"
At the time there wasn't much anyone could do to help, but after two years I have an answer: Accept me for who I am now.
When Rachel came into my life, it changed me profoundly. Losing her did the same. Her father and I work hard to honor her memory, but we will never "get over it" to the degree of being who we were before. I am different now. In some ways -- I think -- better. I am kinder, more patient, more appreciative of small things, but I am not as outgoing nor as quick to laugh.
I know people mean well when they encourage me to get on with my life, but this is my life. My priorities have changed. My expectations of what my future will hold have changed. Please extend to me again the offer of "anything I can do" and, please, accept me as I am now. -- DIFFERENT NOW IN RIVERVIEW, FLA.
DEAR DIFFERENT NOW: Please accept my profound sympathy for the tragic loss of your daughter. I hope that your letter will help anyone who doesn't understand that the death of a child is the most devastating loss parents can suffer and that the experience is life-changing. They may get beyond it, but they never get "over" it. To expect that they would is unrealistic, because it's a wound that may become less visible but never goes away.