After our precious son, Owen, passed away, we were completely devastated. We were unable to function. Sleep was impossible. Our bodies passed through moments of shut down from sheer exhaustion. We were not interested in food or exercise, things which are said to aid in dealing with grief.
On top of our own grief, we still had our four-year-old son, Charlie, to worry about. His best friend and playing partner was suddenly gone. He needed to eat, play, and to be loved and comforted.
We felt the love and support of so many of our family and friends during this time. Their love and prayers carried us, without a doubt. With the purest of hearts and a sense of desperation over not knowing how to help, they would say to us, “We will do anything. Just tell us what to do.” Their selflessness was admirable and so greatly appreciated, but we, as grieving people, were unable to think of what to say to them. If we were being honest, the only thing we truly wanted was the one thing that no one on Earth could do for us – we wanted our happy, healthy, loving Owen back in full physical form. Anything here on Earth outside of that desire for our son paled in comparison and just didn’t even seem worthy of requesting.
Our musical acquaintance/friend, Justin Ploof, took it upon himself to extend his hand to us during that time. He knew we were hurting and didn’t feel like doing anything for ourselves, let alone plan an evening out. In a handwritten note, Justin presented us with tickets to one of his musical shows along with a gift card to get some supper beforehand. We thoughtfully took him up on his offer and were surprised to find how much we enjoyed the reprieve, although brief, from the constant and weighty grief that had now taken over our lives. The opportunity to not have to think about what to make for supper, to escape into music, and to just spend time together doing something that “normal” (non-grieving) parents might do, was such a blessing. Kimberly sent Justin a thank you note letting him know how much we appreciated his kind gesture and in particular, that he took it upon himself to reach out to us and present us with an opportunity for an evening out without any additional emotional or financial burden. Justin later reflected on this and thought about other hurting parents and saw an opportunity to help.
Owen’s Night Out was born from that interaction and the knowledge that grief over the passing of a child is a heart wrenching, life-long journey. In that regard, if we can provide hurting parents with a break or distraction from that journey, even if only for an evening, it might be enough to get them through yet another day of missing their precious child.
If you are unfortunate enough to know of parents that have lost a child of any age, consider electing them to our organization for a night out. If you would like to donate money, gift cards, tickets, etc. for grieving parents to use, please contact us.
“A kind gesture can reach a wound only compassion can heal.”
– Chris and Kimberly Magnuson