When my wife and I see news reports about the deaths of young people, as we did after the grisly slaughter at Virginia Tech last April, we inevitably think back to June 1999, when we lost our son, Daniel. He was a healthy, jovial and playful boy, and his sudden, unexpected death was devastating. Because of our own bereavement, our reactions to the deaths of children inevitably include a deep sympathy for the surviving parents.
We think about the horror that the parents will be facing in the weeks, months and years to come. It is possible to look at the parents who agree to be interviewed and to detect the numbness that accompanies survivors in the days after such a tragedy. We think to ourselves: “Those poor parents. They have no idea how hellish their lives are probably going to become in the next few years.”