Richard Engel’s wife is opening up about the “surreal” week she spent with her late son after he died at just 6 years old.
Marry Forrest wrote a personal essay for Today.com, published Wednesday, and revealed she visited Henry’s body twice a day before his cremation.
“[The funeral home] would have him ready for me, and I’d go into the room and cry, stroke his hair and face and rest my head next to his,” she wrote.
“I brought a different assortment of books and toys each time. I’d push the buttons on the toys and listen to the sounds, which I had heard so many times when he had pushed them.”
Forrest described that period of her and Engel’s life as a “blur” but said her time spent with Henry’s body remains “vivid” in her mind.
“I would wake up feeling anxious to see him. Longing for him. Each time I went I would stay for about an hour, then leave the room and head to the front door of the funeral home before turning back for one last goodbye,” she said, adding that she would leave to rejoin her other son, Theo, who was in “the forefront” of Forrest’s mind.
Forrest admitted the NBC News chief foreign correspondent, 49, was “hesitant” about her approach to handling her grief but decided to join her during one of her visits to see Henry’s body, where he “realized the value in having this time to do the impossible: attempt to say goodbye to Henry.”
Although Forrest said her actions may be perceived as “weird,” she said it helped her move forward with her grief.
“I am thankful to have had that week. I know not every grieving person has the ability to do this, and not everyone wants or needs to,” she wrote. “It was surreal, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching … and also filled with so much love.
“There’s just so much love, and that’s what has gotten me through.”
Henry died following complications from Rett syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that affects the way the brain develops, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disorder, which has no cure, causes a progressive loss of motor skills and language.
Engel honored his late son on what would have been his 7th birthday last September with a social-media tribute that featured a never-before-seen photo of Henry.
“Henry would have turned 7 today. A big thank you to everyone who sent kind and thoughtful messages, and donated to support medical research to defeat Rett Syndrome. Happy Birthday Binks (our nickname),” he tweeted.
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