“My friend donated her son’s organs and would like to know who his organs went to - how can she find out - she is still so devastated by his sudden loss and worries whether she did the right thing donating his organs - he did not specify he wanted to - he died suddenly, a young man, just a few years ago.”
Dearest, most generous Mamma;
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your beautiful boy. I can only try to imagine how his loss has impacted you, and how it must still feel, carrying on without him for several years. There are no real words for this, I think. I want to know his name so I can speak it out loud. I want to hear how he was when he was little, and how he changed as he grew. I wonder what you most loved about him. How he was a challenge to you. What his favorite food was. Did he have a favorite book. What was the first movie he saw. I know these details live in your heart and they probably do not get much chance to be spoken. That is a part of loss, I think; people stop asking about a very deep, sacred part of our hearts.
It might have been the worst day of your life, the day you lost him. The worst day. A day you were living a tragedy. And yet on that day, filled with foreign words and lights and sounds and the horror of the sudden loss of someone young, one of the dearest to you in this world- on that day, there was something about you, and something about your dear son, that allowed you to think of helping others. That fact shines so very bright to me about the two of you.
Mamma, at your worst moment, you and your boy gave the world your best. Not everyone can meet the world with such generosity. I think your generosity together at a devastating time is the brightest star in the sky of your life together. It was every ounce of what we call heroic. You saved lives when your son’s life was ended. You gave what you could not have. Wow.
We sometimes lose sight of the significance of life saving when it comes by way of organ donation. Let me frame this life saving in a new way, using current news. In France there was a little boy who was dangling from a balcony six stories up. “Man scales building to save dangling child” will bring you the video on the web. If we watch that video we see a man who put everything on the line to save the life of another. If your son saved one life, he is this heroic. Chances are, your son at his age saved more lives than one. For every life your son saved, picture him scaling that wall to save a scared, waiting person who is going to die if your son does not reach them. Please put your son’s life-saving in every life saving event you hear about. You and your son saved lives as if he had pulled two people out of a burning building. Pulled three people out of icy water. Pulled four people out of a crashed airplane. That heroic.
In all my years working with transplant patients and donor families, I found this to be true. Some recipients can find the words to say “thank you.” Other recipients will struggle as they start to write something and then worry it is not good enough. It is hard for them to convey the depth of the gratitude they feel. They may think of their donor and donor family every day, even pray for them, and still you might not hear anything. Please hold the thought: “My son and I are being loved and honored every day by the people we saved. Every day, their families and friends are grateful for the gift of life.” I know this to be so very true! Let your heart feel that appreciation and respect every day.
Please contact the donation organization that worked with you that day those years ago and speak to their family support staff. You can ask for an update on the health of the recipients. Do not be afraid to talk to them about some of your sadness, too. They will understand. If you have any specific questions about your son’s case, no question is an improper question. We would want you to have ease and a solid understanding, so that nothing worries you. If you have some fears about that day, call and ask. Action conquers fear.
You will probably never know the people your son saved. But you can meet someone that was saved by a transplant. Transplant recipients generally love all donor families. Find out how you can hear a recipient speak. Maybe you could attend the next transplant games so you could swim in a sea of love for donor families for a few days. I so want you to feel honored, and supported. You are part of a family of people that have saved lives. This family has walked in your very shoes. If you have never spent time with this family I would think it would feel good. I urge you to try it, even if you are shy.
With all my heart I hope you will be able to feel the power of what you did. With all my heart I believe your son is safe, and he keeps an eye on his recipients and you. With all my heart I think he wants you to feel better.
Maybe he put the idea in your head to talk to your friend about your sadness, so she could ask me your questions, so I could write this to you. For him.
Melissa Regan is a Storyteller who is honored to celebrate the life you live and the people you love. She partners with individuals at significant times of life and loss, supporting them by creating and presenting their loved ones story at a service or by planning an inspirational day of rememberance and reflection.
Melissa spent time as a critical care nurse before she became specialized in the field of organ donation. Melissa was well known for the care she gave grieving families and did this delicate work for 14 years. Her experience lead to her teaching heartfelt methods of communication to donation specialists around the world.
Inspired by everything these families taught her, she expanded her perspective on life by studying Positive Psychology, earning both a CiPP and a CAPP. She received training as an end of life doula through INELDA. She has a special grace all her own when it comes to supporting us at times of change and loss.
Melissa is a wife, mother, lifelong learner, and a lover of the wonder you can find in a single moment. She brings this wonder to her public speaking, connecting us to the grandness and depth always present in the day to day.
“Take a day to be thoughtful... the rest of your life is here.”