I fell into a hole last week and got stuck there. It wasn’t the result of being caught off guard with a “how many children do you have?” question, another “first” or even a bittersweet reminder. I simply had a string of bad days where I was feeling empty and missing my son – his smile, his laugh, his pranks and his hugs. And, his little girl started back to school so I was especially sad that she didn’t have him there for her first day.
The loss is so visceral and, at times, all-consuming that even my body hurts. I’ve discovered that my body knows the date before I ever look at a calendar. My “monthly cycle is centered around the 7th – the day my son died. It starts late in the day on the 5th when I find myself feeling weepy, and the waves of emotion continue for the next 2 days….. it’s as if the body that bore him aches because he is gone.
My husband would give anything to be able to help when these waves hit, but he has come to accept that there isn’t anything he (or anyone else) can do. The only comfort I have is that which God provides. Well, last week, my husband asked me, “Isn’t it true that a mother would do absolutely anything to protect her child?”
I started to remember my pregnancy dreams: my son in the road and the oncoming car bearing down on him; me racing at lightning speed … reaching him just in time to push him to safety. I had so many of these type of dreams all throughout his childhood; different variations but the same ending: I took on the impact so that he would be saved.
My husband’s point? That is exactly what I am doing now. Had I stepped in front of a car for my son, he would have been safe (and I would have suffered as I recovered from the impact). Well, he is now safe and happy. And yes, I am suffering as I try to rebuild my life.
I have to remind myself that my son was given to me for a time, and now he is home. My work is done.
What do we learn from the pain of losing a child? I know that we are irrevocably changed, but do we gain something from our grief? Does our obsession to find answers help us to become something better?
Perhaps it is when we finally decide to live – when we make ourselves move on – that we channel our energies into something good.
I suspect our grief causes us to become more generous, or more altruistic than we might otherwise have been. I see bereaved parents:
- publishing books
- writing blogs
- lobbying for positive change
- joining groups like Compassionate Friends who come together to offer comfort
I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
There are days when I feel so broken that I want to plead with God – – to cry out to him – – that I’m not ready to let my son go. I wake in a panic, afraid that I’ve lost him forever, because I can’t remember the sound of his voice, or his laugh. My struggle is to find peace in knowing that my son and I will be together again in a new place (he just gets to go there first).
I wonder if it is true that when you lose a loved one, your mind forgets things so your heart doesn’t keep breaking over, and over again.
Life will never be the same – I will never be the same; I’ve simply lost too much. And yet, I look around and see all that I’ve been given. I’m just not sure how to reconcile this realization with the pain in my heart. I’m constantly reminded: if you give God the pieces, he can take anything broken and make it whole again. That is my prayer
“The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18