“Anne McBrearty Giotta doesn’t remember much of what happened on that August morning in 2013.
One moment she was cursing her older son, Michael, who was supposed to have picked her up for a long-planned beach weekend, but was late and not answering his phone.
The next moment, the police were at her door in River Vale, N.J., saying that Michael, 51, had been found dead in his home, apparently of an heart infection.
“Don’t tell me lies like that,” she told the officers in a barely softened brogue.
Ms. Giotta immigrated from Ireland 60 years ago, worked as a bookkeeper, raised five children and then divorced. In her long life — she’s 87 — “that was the worst time.”
To have a child die before you, at any age, upsets what we all consider to be life’s natural order. “You lose a part of yourself,” Ms. Giotta said.
Children are supposed to outlive us. When they don’t, grieving parents can suffer depression, poorer physical health and higher rates of ruptured marriages even decades later, researchers have found.”