I have learned a lot through my journey of grief this first year. Some lessons have been very painful while others have been enlightening, to say the least. Some lessons I will carry my entire life. Others, I would have preferred to stay the naive person that I once was. Here is what I’ve learned:
- LIFE GOES ON- Babies are still being born. Marriages still take place. There are still appointments to attend to, dinners to be made, sports practices that can’t be missed, and birthday to celebrate. Though I cry out in anguish, laughter is still taking place every where around me.
- THE WORLD DOESN’T STOP SPINNING- Even though my own little world has come to a sudden stop, it’s not going to stop just for me just because I lost someone I love.
- PEOPLE FORGET- Refer to # 1. Misery loves company and though we want to believe others feel the ongoing pain that engulfs us, reality is they don’t. They forget that we just can;t walk away from “it”.
- IT DOESN’T GET EASIER- People assume that because we laugh, we smile, we assume our daily activities, it has gotten better. Fact is, it hasn’t…we have just adjusted to our new lives
- LIFE ISN’T FAIR- Just as this was us a year ago, it could be anyone. We don’t go through life with a signed contract absolving us from pain and heartache.
- FAMILY DOESN’T HAVE TO BE BLOOD- Some of the greatest support we have received has been from friends that we have not seen in years. They have become our rocks. when they heard the news from day 1, they have checked in with us constantly, send us prayers, reminded us that we don’t have to travel this road alone. They are willing to listen to us scream…some scream along with us. They have held me when I’ve cried, and lifted me when I was in despair. Some live hundreds of miles away, but I feel their presence and support as if they were siting right next to me. They remember our loss at every birthday, every holiday, mother and fathers day…every anniversary. They have become more than friends..they are family
- FAMILY AND CLOSEST FRIENDS WILL DISAPPOINT- We assume that our family and our closest friends, more than anyone, will “get us.” That we will be able to count on them for everything and anything. Sadly, many times we can’t They can be the first ones to disappear. Maybe it’s because they hurt as much as we do and they want to seclude themselves from us. Maybe because tragedy hit so close to home it makes them uncomfortable. I might never have the answer…they might not have it themselves
- LESSONS I HOPE TO PASS ON:
- IT’S OK TO SAY “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY”– We get it. I still would not know how to comfort someone that has lost their child. There are no words.
- REALLY FOLLOW THRU WHEN YOU SAY ” I AM HERE.”- We rely on you when you imply that. As time goes by, we wonder we has become of you. We need you here now, yet you are no where to be found. Do you think of us? Do you remember our child?
- DON’T QUOTE SYMPATHY CARD SENTIMENTS- It’s easy to say “You will see him/her again.” God needed another angel.” “They are in a better place.” I know you mean well and I really appreciate you trying to comfort me. But when you say any of those things, my heart and mind are screaming: “I WANT TO SEE HIM NOW! I NEEDED HIM HERE! HIS PLACE WAS WITH ME! Please refer to # 1. If you are still inclined to comfort me with biblical quotes, it’s OK…but be aware that my screams may escape me.
- REMEMBER THE SIBLINGS -My children have an immense burden to carry. Not only have they lost someone they deeply love, they have lost their parents to this ugly illness called grief. Check on them. Remind them that they too are thought of and being lifted in prayer. Tell them it’s going to be OK.
- REMEMBER THE STEP PARENT– People tend to assume that because the child that passed is not blood related, the pain of a step parent isn’t as intense as the biological parent. As I have posted in the past:Family isn’t determined by blood, it is determined by those that have taken up room in your heart. My husband has grieved as deeply as I have.
- WE WILL SAY THINGS TO YOU THAT MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE- We might call you out on something you did or did not do that hurt us. Don’t argue your point. In our heads, our grief is so intense that you will not win. This isn’t about what is right or wrong, it is about the hurt that we feel. When you try to justify your oversight, it only deepens the pain and prolongs the anger. Remember… Our emotions are all over the place. One day we may be laughing, another day lashing out. Forgive us when we do.
- IF YOU DO HURT US, WE STILL LOVE YOU- Life is too short to hold grudges…no one know that more than us. Don’t be afraid to say I am sorry. We will probably cry and remind you how much I love you.
- IT’S OK TO TALK ABOUT IT- Don’t be afraid to talk about our child or our grief. Us, grievers, become very honest during our journey. If I don’t want to talk about it, I will let you know that this isn’t a good time. Don’t take it personal. Even though that moment might not be a good time, eventually I will want to talk about it. Be ready to listen
- DON’T WAIT FOR THE “RIGHT TIME.”Refer to # 6. I might NEED to talk to someone and you came along at the right time
- DON’T LIVE A LIFE OF REGRETS-No explanation needed..
Everyone that has suffered a loss has informed me about the year of firsts. They have warned me that the first holiday, the first birthday, the first anniversary will hit me like hot coals. The pain will be harsh and fierce. I have also read where, us newbies in this strange land of mourning, need to prepare ourselves as if we were going into battle. “These will be the hardest”. Others advise that the second year is the toughest yet. Their reasoning is that the first year, we walk in a fog, still in denial from the tragedy that has turned our world upside down. Another form of reasoning is that you never heal from it and every life changing event, a wedding, the birth of a child, the passing of other family members, reopens your wounds with a fury of pain.
So how do I prepare? How do I navigate through this valley of darkness? A place that I have never maneuvered through and would never care to pass through again. Inevitably though, and for a more “understandable” reason, I know that I will need to travel this road again. I pray later than sooner. My parents are growing old, and age is catching up to me and my siblings. This so called circle of life. What we were taught, and how I imagined that life was supposed to naturally evolve as. Parents are supposed to go before their children. Parents are not supposed to bury their children.
Because of this, I now fear nothing. My greatest fear was and will always be the unimaginable death of one of my children. So, now that my greatest fear has come to fruition, what else is there to fear? Health issues, money stress, divorce…think about it. What greater fear can there ever be in this world? If my health fails me, I can be healed, and if not, I will be with my son. Money? I would give all my wordily possessions to have him here again. Divorce? There is no greater loss than the loss of a child. I have traveled through a land of darkness, grief, pain and anguish. So what should I fear? God would CERTAINLY not dare take another child from me, would He? ?! Have I not suffered enough, cried enough. Has my heart not been ripped out of my chest so crushingly that I could not breath?
I have paid my dues and I paid dearly for them. So what is left to fear??? So, I cry out to Him, ” DO NOT hurt another one of my children!” Please God! I beg of you….”
Please God… Don’t give me more than I can handle
Almost 365 days, 8,756 hours, 525,948 minutes and 31,556,926 seconds of unending grief. Of wanting to wake up from a nightmare. Almost one year of tears, sadness, torturous heartache. Never ending grief and despair. My life will never be the same. It will never be whole once more. Where I once had a complete heart, I now have one with a huge hole.
Made it through almost 365 days.
If I live to be my mom’s age, I only have 11,680 days , 280,192 hours 16,830,336 minutes and a mere 1,009,821,632 seconds to go….
People comment how on strong I was,through all of this. But, that is because they couldn’t see inside what was left of my tattered soul. They were in awe that I was still a functioning human being , even being able to return to work after just a couple weeks. What choice did I have?.. I had 2 other children, grandchildren and a husband that needed me. I was the rock that held everything that falls apart together. In order to endure, I had no choice but to continue. The pain and anger would be screaming o let them out…I would pull out a small white pill given to me by my doctor, to try to shuck those idiots up!.
During weakness I would talk to our pastor. He would read Psalms, hold my hand and pray. He tried to offer words of comfort where really, there were none. A dear cousin of mine mailed me a book on how to cope with loss. Amazon Prime began the continual delivery of several books on grieving. As each book arrived, I fervently searched through the pages looking for some sort of life line. Anything that assured me, or that I was the Master of my own demotion and I would not fall victim to the ugliness of grief.
I would only go thru a few pages when, I felt as if I was walking into the path of a hurricane. I would frantically try to get through it, but each powerful wind gust kept knocking me back and down. I furiously fought with every fiber in my being trying to get through this vicious storm. There was no escaping it.You could try to hide from it but grief follows you everywhere.
When I had to walk difficult roads before all of this, I accepted it. I never questioned it. Shockingly, though, I never imagined He would give me the most unimaginable and cruelest pain any parent could feel. The loss of your child.
My sadness, my anger, my pain took over. I fell to the floor and screamed at God. WHY!!?? WHY??!! Why would you do this to me God!?? Did I not pray hard enough?! Did I not believe as much as I should?! You are not a God of Mercy!!? What did I ever do to disgrace you that you allowed this evilness to enter our lives!? Are you not supposed to be a merciful all loving God!? Why did you do this to me!!?? I cried myself to sleep on the floor, admonishing myself for allowing me to believe in God as easy as a five year old believes in Santa Clause.
I wonder if God is punishing me for not going to confession .
So, here I will stay …faith dangling by a thread…hoping it won’t break but not caring if it does…for now
My desk at work was always decorated with pieces of paper that had some uplifting quote on them. The torn edges from where they ripped out of some book, were carefully taped down. Next to them were hand written notes from friends who have always leaned on their faith reminding me to keep praying. I memorized each line. I sought them out when my heart felt heavy. I made copies of them and gave them to friends who were suffering and needed to have some healing. They were like some magic ticket to peace. I assumed that if I prayed hard enough, believed strongly and fiercely, no earth shattering harm would ever come to me or those I loved and cherished.
On July 16, 2017, I found out that they are merely words on paper