Why I Can’t Read Sad Stories About Kids

“No matter how painful or raw, I read the stories I know will make me cry,” Devon Corneal wrote last week in a beautiful piece on the Huffington Post.

Devon was talking about those heartbreaking tales of children and tragedy that cross our television and computer screens each day and about the achingly beautiful blogs by parents who have suffered unimaginable grief.

Why I Can't Read Sad Stories About Kids

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“I learn from the hard stories,” she writes.  “In a crucible, we discover what we’re made of, so I read the stories of parents facing horrible loss to understand what it means to be a parent. I consider the worst and remind myself to hope for the best.”

I hate to admit, it but while I loved her piece, I am the opposite of Devon: rather than reading and watching these sad news stories, I try avoiding negativity. In fact, I can’t turn away fast enough. It’s not simply because of a general aversion to sad stories — I’m a crier by nature and everything for me is a tear-jerker.  But stories about terminally ill children, babies with incurable diseases or kids who go missing while walking home from school are just too unbearable.  I grieve for the parents and cannot imagine what they must be going through, but I can’t bring myself on a routine basis to it sit down and absorb their tragic stories.

I’m not only talking about the sad current events, death or destruction on the news, the ones that hit me at the end of the day while I’m channel surfing the TV. Like the story of Jessica Ridgeway, the 10-year-old Colorado girl whose body was just found a week after she disappeared walking to school.  I’m also talking about the kind of blogs Devon writes about. The mom whose child died of cancer. The mom whose baby was born with a rare and incurable genetic disease. The mom who lost her 12-year-old son in a tragic accident in their neighborhood.

I can only imagine that writing about what happened to them must be part of the grieving process, part of the experience of loss, maybe an attempt to try to move on, if that is even possible.  And I so admire these parents’ courage for being able to open up and share.

But I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that, unlike Devon, I can’t absorb their tales.  Because truth be told, I live in fear every day that their experience could become mine.  That there but for the grace of God go I.

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