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No parent should outlive their children. But this year nearly 150,000 infants, children, teenagers, and young adults will die in the United States. They leave behind parents who will spend the rest of their lives struggling to cope with with loss of their children.

The type of death rarely matters. It could be a drug overdose, car crash, or illness. What caused the death fades as time moves on. But the pain remains as strong as the day they passed.

Marriages fail. Medical bills pile up. Basic things, like getting out of bed, become insurmountable obstacles. Some lose their drive to be a part of their communities.

This story looks at the lives of parents years after their child’s death — when the outside world doesn’t want to hear about their dead children and expects a return to normalcy. It explores broken human bonds, and the endless search for a parent’s new identity in the social fabric of American society.