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Surviving the Death of a Child

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Momlogic's Lindsey spent the weekend consoling a long-time friend. But how do you comfort a man who's just lost his 4-year-old daughter and mother to a drunk driver?


When you hear stories in the news about someone dying from being struck by a drunk driver, you probably say to yourself, "I will never get behind the wheel after having even one drink," but time and time again, people still do. 

One American is killed by a drunk driver every 31 seconds--but you never truly know the effect it has on someone's life until you see a person you love and care about suffer from the actions of a selfish, irresponsible human being.

On Saturday morning at 1:01 a.m., one man made the decision to get behind the wheel of his car after a night of drinking. He drove southbound going towards oncoming traffic. The first person to see him coming was lucky enough to swerve out of the way, hitting the center divider and remaining unharmed. But Ryan, a 27-year-old dad, wasn't as lucky. Ryan was driving with his two beautiful daughters (Reagan 2, Delaney, 4) and his mother when they were struck head on.

While the drunk driver was able to survive this crash (because for some reason they always do), the innocent victims, 4-year-old Delaney and her grandma, had to suffer--leaving Ryan to live without his mother and little girl.

When Ryan called me on Sunday to tell me this news, my heart broke into pieces. How does someone ever recover from the death of a child, and the death of their mother at the SAME TIME? How are you ever the same? How do you help a friend get through the most devastating thing that will ever happen to them? These were just a few of the thoughts that ran through my head when Ryan first told me.

When sitting with Ryan, he talked about taking Delaney to Disneyland last week and showed me pictures and videos from their trip. He talked about signing her up for gymnastics and how excited she was for it, and about her funeral and how he wants everyone to play her favorite games and celebrate the four amazing years we had with her.

Delaney was an energetic, loving little girl who didn't get a real chance at life because someone decided they wanted to get wasted and then get behind the wheel. This single individual was able to change the lives of so many people by taking away a loving mother and an innocent child. My heart aches for my good friend Ryan, Delaney's mother Julia, and the rest of his family.

It is so important that we talk to our kids about the effects of drunk driving and the consequences of what can happen, even if it's just getting into a car with someone who has been drinking. I can say that I'm guilty of driving with someone who's had a few drinks, but said they were sober enough to drive. How stupid was I? Seeing first hand the effects it has on a family--it's something that will stay with me forever.

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous August 27, 2008, 10:02 AM


willie m.smith August 27, 2008, 12:55 PM

Heartbreaking yes, he will never get over the death of his mother let alone his little girl. He will see her in every part of his day and will always wonder “what if”. My daughter did not die in that type of situation but even 30 years later I still somtimes see others about her age and womder what if she was here.

barbara August 27, 2008, 1:11 PM

I can really sympathize with both you and especially Ryan. See, I also lost my son, an only child to murder a few years ago, and relive it daily. Mostly, I do my best remembering the love a mother and son share, and the many lives touched in his short life on earth. Memories can not be taken. Death can take a love one away, but thank God for the memories. We laugh, we cry, but it helps to talk and to remember. Questions arent’t good at this time. Like, “How are you doing?”
Comments, aren’t good at this time. Like, “I know what you must be feeling”!
Unless you have experienced, or, are experiencing such a lost. The best kept secret, is your presence, and the sharing of the memories. Thank you for your time.

M.L. August 27, 2008, 5:57 PM

My heart goes out to Ryan! I used to take care of brain injured adults and 90% of them were there due to drinking and driving, whether themselves orsomeone else, and to hear their stories broke my heart!!!!! If only people knew what they could do to themselves or others, it could possibly change them. One of the people I took care of was headed to the NFL, another to the olympics for swimming and they were hit by drunk drivers, and ended up in wheelchairs and in a facility for the brain injured. I wish people could see and talk to people like this before they get behind the wheel after drinking.

Charli August 28, 2008, 11:19 AM

I feel for this family. My family has had some hardships with Drunk driving too. I’ve lost both my brothers and sister to drinking accidents.

My heart is with them and I will pray for them as they try to heal their hearts.

Anonymous August 28, 2008, 12:59 PM

that was a very heart breaking accident in i hope and pray for the best of his family

Tami macEachern September 9, 2008, 11:13 AM

This is a very heartbreaking story and my sympathies go out to the family, especially the mother and father. I too have lost my 4 year old child suddenly.Like Ryan, I am left to raise my son’s little sister who was 11 1/2 months old at the time ( 6 yrs old now) by herself, without her brother.My life was destroyed on December 9,2002 - when I took my son to the emergency room for vomiting and i was told that he had the flu, but slightly dehydrated so he should stay the night. My husband stayed with him and i was convinced to go home to get some sleep for a few hours as I was exausted. I woke up 5 hours later to the police knocking at my door ( i was so tired i didn’t hear the phone)telling me son had died. I was in shock for months, my husband still is I think. He tried to tell them there was something else wrong numerous times, his vomit smelled like feces - NO ONE BELIVED HIM> They wouldn’t call an xray tech in and he died with a bowel obstruction - on his way to xray at 6:00 am. The hospital and the doctor got away with what they did we did not have the money to fight them in court. My heart is broken beyond repair.
Ryan, put all your energy into raisng your other daughter.Make the world revolve around her and show her that even this cruel world she is loved and sheltered. I made Jaden my reason, my only reason for living and that is how I get by day to day.The day she stops needing me my job here on earth is done, I want to be with my son. Until that time I try not to ever cry in front of her, I try to give her a wonderful childhood to the best of my ability and show her the amount of love I have for them both. She is a wonderful little girl. I am blessed to have her and Ryan you are blessed to have your daughter here on earth. It is a daily struggle, even 5 years later. I hope ( I’d say pray but I stopped doing that the day Dylan died) you can learn to live again, and find happiness with the family that is still here with you now. Take care from another grieving parent that knows.

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