Therese joined our parents group and quickly impressed me with her ability to be with intense content and emotions, bridging compassion with healthy detachment, which is not easy. It didn’t surprise me to find out she is a medical massage therapist with extensive training in trauma recovery. I know Wyatt has been one of her greatest teachers, someone she carries with her in every aspect of her life and work.
What is the name of your child who died?
Wyatt. We are related to John Henry “Doc” Holliday, whose best friend in all the world was Wyatt Earp. My Wyatt was a best friend to everyone he met.
How did your child die and how old was he?
Wyatt was 9 years old at the time. He and his dad passed in a motor vehicle accident in Olympia, Washington on August 19th, 2003. His brother, Cody, survived the accident with minor injuries.
How did you hear the news?
Someone from the Olympia Fire Department called our house to notify me that there had been an accident and that my son, Cody, was being taken to Providence St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia. She would not mention my other son, Wyatt, but confirmed his father’s passing. I met doctors at the hospital. My husband, Jack, was also there and he was the one who broke the news to me.
What has helped you in your grieving process?
Being able to speak with others who have also lost a child in a group setting has helped tremendously because I know I’m not crazy, and only they truly understand what I am experiencing. Being of service to others has also helped. I started Rogue Health LLC offering clinical and therapeutic bodywork in Medford, Oregon with a focus on pain management. It is an honor to work with my clients and patients, and it takes the focus off my personal pain.
What has not helped has been people telling me I should be over it by now
What has not helped?
What has not helped has been people telling me I should be over it by now (it’s been 13 years). Counseling helped very little because it kept the emotional wound open for 2 years and did not seem to give me the tools I needed to move through the pain.
Has anything about this experience surprised you?
A number of people disappeared from my life because my pain was too painful for them to address. I guess you find out who your true friends are!
The intensity and frequency will come in waves and will constantly change, but you will never stop grieving your child.
What do you wish people knew about grieving a child?
It will never cease. The intensity and frequency will come in waves and will constantly change, but you will never stop grieving your child. Please don’t avoid talking about my child! I love talking about him and sharing the funny things and good times.
How have you changed?
I have become fairly solemn, and I have lost interest in dealing with superficial people. Small things in life really don’t matter much, and I’ve focused on larger life issues. Things that may have caused major changes in life earlier are now just a small consideration in the bigger picture.
What do you want people to remember about your child?
That he lived. That he touched so many people in his short stay here. He was autistic and had a heart of gold. He loved his pet rock and gave the most amazing hugs.
I still yearn to touch him, and some dreams are quite vivid. I thank him for his huge impact on my life and who I am today.
Do you still feel connected to your child and if so, how?
He pays me visits from the other side so we have an on-going relationship. I still yearn to touch him, and some dreams are quite vivid. I thank him for his huge impact on my life and who I am today. Years ago I started a nonprofit in his name, now the Exceptional Families Network. Here is a video clip of him as part of the intro to a special needs conference of the then Wyatt Holliday Foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0OzIwpjJLM
What do you answer when people ask you how many children you have?
I have 2. One is in college, and one helps me at work. 😉
Therese Holliday practices medical massage at Rogue Health in Medford, Oregon. She can be reached at 541-727-1996 or through her website, www.roguehealth.com