Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Over the years I have worked with and encountered many individuals that have lost a child, a sibling, or a grandchild. I am not surprised by how many families “die” when one of their children does. It seems to be especially hard on siblings because they often lose everything all at once. The sibling is gone, and the parents are so traumatized they can’t help their other kids deal with the loss. Certainly, the family as everyone knew it is gone. A new family can, and often does, emerge, but the process is painful and requires a vehicle, like ceremonies, rites, or rituals, to allow everyone to grieve. Since no one grieves exactly like anyone else, various family members miss each other’s signals, which increases the depth of the struggle. It is still hard to know what to do or say because nothing much helps at any given moment. I have to remind myself over and over that any encounter with a grieving person is unsatisfactory. That is because neither party can give the other what they need. My attempt to help cannot resurrect their dead loved one, and they can’t feel better for me. This simple truth causes much misunderstanding in circles of friends. But there is hope and healing. On the other side is a lovely, albeit different, world also.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Join Me On This Journey
Her death is
There is no
That is deeply
I love you.
The choice we all have to make over and over is to take the risk of loving again. The choice to love again, to invest enthusiastically in life, makes all the difference. Knowing that we could lose someone again and still choosing to participate, rebuild our souls and lives and not bench ourselves. This is the quiet courage of grieving people. Join me on this journey.
Monday, January 5, 2015
The death of my child
a different world
did not know
I remember the days when I couldn’t concentrate long enough to read a book or write a paper for graduate school. Then slowly I could and I read lots of things about losing a child and how to get “better”. Getting better usually means not showing my grief in public, or anywhere for that matter. So how did I get “better” to have a rich and rewarding life along side the crippling? Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one in the world on this isolated lonely journey. That is the nature of grief; it is alone with no guide except my own desire to live. That choice led to my frequently bumping into walls, stubbing many toes and just wanting out of the struggle. Over time I discovered that if I could find a safe place and grieve, I always felt better. Gradually the waves of grief came further apart, not so intense and didn’t last as long.
I still feel different, set apart from others, I suppose I really am. Few have to redefine themselves and rebuild their lives in quite the same way as grieving parents and their families do. Staying on the healing path is an ongoing discovery of how to stay clear that that is what is wrong. It is easy to get sidetracked into anything but that
“It’s like going through empty rooms. There is no one to stop you, but no one to applaud either*”
*From Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
Friday, December 12, 2014
It is worth reiterating that grief is just plain brutal, and has honed my life in ways that I often dislike and rail against. However, the alternative of not going on is worse. For me, there were times over these thirty-odd years when I just sat down on the sidelines. I was out of oomph. Slowly, that began to feel like living in a glass jar. I could see and hear everyone and everything, but I could touch no one, and no one could touch me. This was an attempt to feel safe, another bargain. If I just sit quietly, I’ll be fine. Living as if one is in a mayonnaise jar may be safe, but it is very lonely and brittle. Breaking out of that jar required me to get up off the bench and re-engage, which of course meant more pain, more grieving. Each time I have cracked the jar I have found new comfort and joy also. They go together.
There is something about the healing power of grief that is almost mystical. I have witnessed over and over again that every breakthrough my clients or I have ever made is always after some important grief work. The truism here is that if you can’t grieve, you can’t change.
At this Christmas time, I once again find myself wanting to sit on the sidelines and just stop the world. This is always an indication that something new is brewing and I will have to break out of the mayonnaise jar again. I suppose I am discouraged that my mission seems so elusive and unattainable. I sometimes feel like an ant at the corner of a huge football field and my job is to take over that field. It is easy to kick over an anthill. So, I heave a huge sigh sit for a moment and get up and start all over again, because I believe that creating safe places for people to grieve is important.
Friday, November 14, 2014
I’ve heard so many times
“Shouldn’t you be over “it” by now?”
It is always hard to think of my child as an “it” I must get over
Which child would you ever get over?
Which child would you give up?
The chasm between the bereaved and the non-bereaved is vast and invisible
I am tired of trying to bridge it, tired of justifying my grief, tired of my status of “bereaved parent” and all the turn a ways that go with that status.
This lonely journey is because I can’t “get over it”, in fact I refuse to pretend that Sharon didn’t live and breath and I miss her still.
And yet, like the scene in E.T. where across all that vast difference of being, language and understandings, Elliot and ET touched.
And there are those that walk with me and let me have “it”
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
An important aspect of the redoing of my reality has been the emergence and subsequent living of my values. A lot of that clarity came out of my struggle to be seen as “nice” and to be liked. It was important for me to understand why I couldn’t be like everyone else. The journey has been lonely enough, but I also felt the added burden of rejection. I was having a lot of trouble relating to most people. For a long time I assumed it was because of my grief. It was quite a surprise when I began to realize I didn’t like them any better than they liked me. It turned out to be a clash of values. Again and again, the push back to me was that I was too harsh, or too blunt. Perhaps that is true, but it does not explain all the disagreements. What it does explain was my insistence on continuing to grieve, even this long after Sharon’s funeral. The choice to grieve reflects my value of growth over comfort.
Thirty years seemed, at the time, like a momentous milestone. I have no idea how many times I have cycled through the grieving process. It is never a one-time deal. It is never neat and tidy, nor in any particular order. The only two stages that have any order are the first (shock and denial) and the last (acceptance). The rest are a continual swirl (anger, bargaining, and depression), and often are an unarticulated reaction that doesn’t make sense to others. For example, every time I hear the song “You Are My Sunshine,” I burst into tears and leave the room. That was a song I sang to Sharon often as she was growing up. My reaction makes no sense to anyone but me.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
When you’ve lost a child there is no such thing as “enough”.
Not enough comfort
Not enough help
Not enough meds
Not enough answers
Not enough relief
Not enough recovery
Not enough peace
Not enough glue to put me back together again.
It’s like having an arm ripped out by the roots, all raw, jagged and bloody with unbearable pain.
And yet, and yet, over time like a balm applied to the wound the hemorrhaging stops, the jagged edges smooth some and the pain reduces to a manageable level.
This is accomplished by insisting on your grieving and never letting anyone tell you how or when to grieve.