In the course of my work day I read about far too many children who have drowned in every way imaginable – babies in bathtubs, teenagers caught in a rip-tide, children playing in flood-swollen rivers, a pool party turned tragedy. I also read the ways that devastated parents are coping with their loss. Some parents devote their lives to raising awareness and supporting other parents by starting a foundation – Drowning Prevention Foundation, Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation, Hannah’s Foundation, to name a few. Others would turn to family, friends, their faith. Still others would retreat from life until the pain becomes bearable. Everyone has a different method of coping. There was a recent maelstrom over a mom who tweeted as her son was pulled from a swimming pool and given CPR. Should she have been tweeting as her child died? How could she? The National Drowning Prevention Alliance put out an excellent response to the questions that were raised. You can see it at http://www.ndpa.org/articles/09-1218a.htm. I agree with their statement – the world is changing and for that mom, reaching out with a primal scream for help, for support, praying that a network of people might change the outcome when she was helpless to do so on her own, that was her way of coping with the unimaginable.
I think that losing your child is the worst thing that can happen to a parent. I read the story recently about the father in New Zealand who held his son above water but drowned himself and understood completely how the gut-level need to keep your child safe, even at the cost of your own life can lead to heroic deeds.
Drowning happens. It happens every day to dozens of children with devoted and loving parents all over the world. It’s still the second leading cause of death of children. Does this statistic bother you as much as it bothers me? Then teach your children water safety, teach them to swim, and learn CPR. Make sure they are never unaccompanied around water. But most of all, know that the main job of a child is to explore, to seek out the new, the exciting, and sometimes the dangerous and feel for those parents whose children slipped through the safety net of love and vigilance that we all strive towards.