Continuing my blogging series through Susan Duke’s “Grieving Forward – Embracing Life After Loss”
Chapter Two – I’ll Never Be The Same
Well I would imagine that title speaks volumes to those of us who have lost a child or loved one. You would think that it would be a common thought but I can tell you that many people think you can be your “old” self after such a tragedy and it was mind blowing to me to think that anyone would think it possible.
After reading this chapter over and over these past years I can say without a shadow of a doubt I am a changed person. The moment I walked out of that hospital I became someone else. Everything I looked at took on a different meaning. Food didn’t taste the same. Joy had left my heart. I truly didn’t care about anything. I just wanted to be left alone. Hoping to quietly disappear into a cloud of dust and forgotten. The pain was that raw and that profound.
Getting up each day was difficult. Really I would think to myself “why – what’s the point”. In looking back it was a dreadful time and not sure, other than by the grace of God, did I survive it. In the book, the author talks about not knowing what to say or how to pray. I know I had that feeling too. Because the very prayer I made at the bedside was one I wish I could have taken back. I wrestled over that prayer for many months because I had such guilt over my words. I questioned my choice of words. “God, if you cannot bring her back healthy, then take her so she will not suffer any longer.” – that was my prayer and God granted it.
The selfish mother in me wanted to take that back so many times. But in all honesty I would have rather her go to Heaven then suffer here on earth. But even with that realization, I still wondered why I didn’t pray for a miracle. Oh the blame I have placed on myself for that. But I also know things happen for a reason. Many of which we do not have the answers for. That will always be one I’ll have a conversation with God about when my time comes. It has taken many years to get over that guilt.
One of the prayers that the author spoke of is from the 23rd Psalm. I remembered using it myself and reciting it over when nothing else came to me. There is a comfort in reciting a prayer or a thought – “mantra” if you will for those of you who think along those lines. I think it can bring a little clarity to your thoughts. For me my thoughts were running wildly and weren’t making much sense. Reading the bible, certain passages I found that gave me strength and got me through some tough times.
Some of the toughest times were those when I would begin to think about the future and what it would hold for me. I was no stranger to change in my life. But this was more than just change for me, it was living a life I wasn’t familiar with. For the first time in many years I had no one. No one to care for, no one to get up in the morning to get ready for school. No one to cook for. No one to love. It was a profoundly difficult time. Grief does that. It changes you.
The author speaks about “The Valley of Change” and going through the stages of grief. She uses some various quotes along the way from different authors. I highlighted those in my book because I found them to be helpful in understanding why I felt the way I did and it also became a source of validation that I wasn’t imagining my feelings or thoughts. They were very real and they were very relevant. This is an important step in the grieving process.
The author agrees, like I do, that you have to go through this journey with a clear head. Medication or medicating your pain will only delay the inevitable. You have to come to terms with your grief. Or it will haunt you for the rest of your days. I’m not saying medication isn’t part of the journey, but it has to be in conjunction with therapy and it must be monitored. My medication was my writing. It was cathartic and continues to be so today – almost five years later.
The Valley of Disbelief….
I think it took me a couple of weeks to finally get Brittany wasn’t coming home. She died on Friday, the day she was to go to her dad’s for the week. Then the following Friday – she didn’t come home. I cried that whole weekend. Reality began to set in. Like the author, I too experienced situations, or things that would set me off. I couldn’t even sleep in my own room, because I would always pass by Brit’s room and say good night then enter my own bedroom. It took three months before I could walk past her room at night and go into mine to sleep. Progress.
Something the author mentioned I feel needs repeating. It’s one of the most important things anyone can do for someone who is in the early phases of grief. Be present. Be there. Be of comfort.
The loving support of friends and family is essential in the first days of grief. There is simply no substitute for the human touch of sympathy (Duke, 2006).”
The Valley of Unknowns….
It goes without saying that the sense of the unknown continues to prevail for a long time after the passing of a child. You live in unchartered waters. Especially if it is an only child that has passed. Life as you know it will never be the same. Not only has the present changed, but your future has changed as well. All the plans dreamed, prepared for have now been swiped clean from your future and now you are left to rewrite it. This is the hard part of grief. Rewriting your story.
The one thing that I know has helped me through some tough spots is knowing there have been others who have gone before me and survived such a loss. The author speaks of a friend who came to be with her who had lost her son just three years prior. There is something of like a kinship to be with people who have experienced loss. Words don’t even have to be spoken. I think the hearts speak to one another. It’s hard to explain it.
The Valley of Anger….
I spent a long time in this space. I don’t visit it much anymore. In fact, I try to stay away from it all these days. But in the early days, weeks and months I was very angry. I was angry with God, myself, Brit’s doctors. I wanted answers and they did not come. It’s important to release your anger but in a controlled way. Otherwise it can set you back and block you from moving on in your journey. Acknowledging your anger is key. Understanding that it will come and go is important. That it is ok to be angry – ask Job. Read his story – you’ll understand what I mean.
The Valley of Reality…..
“The kind of pain that comes from the sudden death of a child is beyond description. Experts agree that on a scale of one to ten, the death of a child ranks a ten. When the death is unexpected or sudden, the devastation breaks the scale (Duke, 2006).”
The moment I read that quote from her book, I felt a sigh of relief because what I was feeling was exactly that. My pain was off the charts. I was left with an emptiness that no great memory could cure. Every time I looked at her picture my heart-broken again and again. To this day, I avoid looking for very long at her pictures. I haven’t seen her video in over a year and I’m not sure I can. It’s just too painful to go back for anything length of time. It’s hard to breathe some days because I miss her so, but God has continued to bless me with good friends and a great family. That has made all the difference.
until next time,