Monday, February 18, 2019

When Your Child Dies

When your child, and mine, dies, it wipes out everything.  It wipes out the ability to focus, think, relate to people, including family and friends.  When anyone is so profoundly impacted by an event it is not likely that anyone will be in the same place at the same time. Ultimately this death redesigns your core self.  Nothing is so internally life altering as the death of your child. 

In many ways the death of your child creates an invisible prison because no one can see the overwhelming pain or internal distortion.  For me, the first year at least, was simply trying to not hurt so much.  I had the continual sensation of having a hole in my middle.  Not anything visible so people thought me a bit strange. I feel I have become a bit strange as no one can really share that experience, grief is truly a walk alone.

The rebuilding of self and life is slow and arduous, there are no guidelines, you have to make them up as you go.  On the other side of healing is a wholly different person with different priorities, different foci, different needs and a very different philosophy.   

The ripping apart inside is so painful, persistent and complete that it is a wonder that any of us come back at all.  The saddest and most difficult result is that no one can truly be there and very little helps for a very long time. 

Forty + years after her death I am still strange and different from others because the theme is still the same.  “You should be over IT by now”. “Time to move on.”  Etc., etc. in tiresome consistency.  I actually have gotten on with my life, a wonderful, marriage a satisfying career, another child and now our children’s marriages and now grand-children.  It has been a good life, and still, and still I am different and apart from others because… when my child died that wiped out everything.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Grief Is Not A Joint Venture

Chapter 1

Grief Is Not A Joint Venture

Grief is a lonely, isolating event, no matter what the loss.  Grief gets more people in trouble with themselves and others than any other problem.  It’s easy to get focused on sex, or money or “You are just a jerk” because those are things you can do something about.  You can’t bring back something lost.  Since all change is loss, we live in a time when we are constantly losing something or someone. 

Often, we are surprised and taken aback when our partner and others we rely on aren’t “helpful” at all.  In fact, they seem to be at odds with what we need.   For example; we recently moved from Montana to California to be near our children and grandkids. We lived in Montana for 20 years, so leaving was difficult, even though it was our choice and desire to be nearer our family as we age.  

Leaving Montana was more difficult then we had “planned” for.   This was our dream home on lots of property that we had lovingly “parked out” to be a wildlife refuge and a place for people to meet and renew themselves.  We happily achieved both those goals, but as we got in our 60’s and slid into our 70’s, we just couldn’t manage the enterprise well any longer.  It also was emerging that our health is fading, and it would be smart to close down our dream in Montana and rebuild our lives near our kids, while we were still young and healthy enough to rebuild.
That move turned out to be more painful and difficult than we anticipated.

I have lost count of the number of times I have had to rebuild my life.  Certainly, after the death of my daughter, then breast cancer, then parents and many furry friends.  It is always the same whatever the loss.  It has taken a while to realize that people really haven’t let me down, there is just not much anyone can do except walk by my side.  It has been an unpleasant truth that Morrie and I have to be very careful to remember what the real cause of our dissent I and not descend into bickering and squabbling over nonsense. 

The feelings are often intense and immediate, so it is often hard to pull back and realize that the real source of my pain is because I miss what is lost. 

No, grief is not a joint venture.