anticipating the tidal wave

I haven’t been able to write for the last 2 months. I had to slip back into life and be able to function.

So I slammed the door shut on the painful emotions and stayed far away from it.  I kept moving, and I kept cramming down the pain (not very healthy, by the way).  I just couldn’t take the chance that I would lose myself in the pain and cease to function – because I had committments to keep.  But, the longer I did this, the harder it was to keep cramming. 

Last night, we passed the intersection where my son was killed.  I pass it often when driving to church, the store or to visit friends. Usually I distract myself by holding my breath, saying a prayer, or closing my eyes – but this time was different.  

I was startled by a compelling vision of my son.  As I saw his face, I could actually feel the intensity of his vitality and his joy.  It was momentary, powerful, and deeply painful as I thought, “All of that is gone. I can no longer hold him.” 

The pain makes me want to crawl away, find a quiet place and cry. And, I can feel a tidal wave gathering as we get closer to December 7th.  I’m shocked to realize that almost 1 year has passed since the accident. 

Not sure how I will get through the next few weeks – his anniversary & the holidays.  But with God’s grace, I’ll keep moving forward. 

This song, Nothing Stops Another Day, speaks to me. If you follow the link, you can hear how beautifully it is sung:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G19h037A728&sns=em 

“I know I have to let go of the life I’ll never know,

hard as it may be. 

I’m trying to understand instead there’s another life ahead. 

Because the tallest mountain cannot stop the smallest stream,

Winter can’t hold back the spring, no matter how dark it may seem,

Come what may, nothing stops another day

 Because the world keeps turning and I guess it always will,

I can choose to turn around, or I can choose to just stand still.  Either way, nothing stops another day

  Lyrics from “Nothing Stops Another Day”

 

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perfume and pearls

Each day, the sun rises and sets. The seasons change.
In the garden, flowers bloom and then die.

Death is like the tide – it just is.

Every time I hear of a death, I immediately think, “there is another mother who lost her child.”
I’m not sure how we survive the death of a child, but we do. We find a way to live – not just to survive. But we are changed forever.

When bad days happen, I struggle to stay present but I am sucked backwards in time. With a foot in the past and one in the present, I try to carry on through the day. And, when I am tempted to – again – ask WHY? – I think about this quote by Margaret Brownley,

“perfume can only be produced by crushing flowers; something beautiful must first die…”

I know my face reflects my rawness and I really don’t care. A part of me is gone; I feel diminished, a shadow of my former self.
I am, somehow, less than I was.

And yet I am softer: I feel other’s energy and acutely sense their pain. I am infinitely stronger; I can now survive anything. My discernment is magnified, and I’m crystal clear about what really matters.
Does that mean that, in some way, I am more than I was before my son died?

Rarely is something created without pain and perseverance.  I wonder if our new self (our new normal) forms in the same way as a pearl is created? Do you think our hardship refines us?

8 months today

I can’t believe 8 months has passed since my son’s accident.  I wasn’t watching the calendar, but should have realized as the physical pain and emotions began to build yesterday.  One thing that is different though – the memories of the accident day haven’t gone away but they do have blurry edges……..  

Last week, a friend offered to help me look through the last box of my son’s belongings.  I had been saving that last box; probably the same impulse that makes me delay reading the last chapter of a really good book – because I don’t want it to end.  But it was time.    

What an odd experience – I was in the moment and I was also watching myself

……..holding his Boy Scout shirt; reading little notes that he wrote; getting teary looking at the old photos; smiling at finger-paintings from 1982; and laughing out loud at his 8-year-old Christmas list (He cut pictures from every catalog he could find, stuffed them inside a manila envelope and wrote on the front: all i want is in here)

a wonderful flood of bittersweet memories

 And I kept thinking, “Why didn’t I save more of his things?”  

Maybe we need to live each day in a way that celebrates the present.  Is that the lesson I need to understand??

what does suffering teach us?

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

 

overflowing

If you pour more liquid into an over-filled glass, it simply spills over.

My grandmother just died.  She was wise and loving, and so very giving.  She lived a long life, and I will miss her.  Yet, I am so consumed by the loss of my son, that I’m struggling to properly grieve for my Nana. There just isn’t any room.

It’s been six months since my son died and I’m not sure the pain will ever go away.  

A good friend of mine told me that the six month mark can be one of the most difficult points in the grieving process. Most other people have gone back to everyday life and are no longer constantly thinking about the person who died – and they expect that the grieving family will be experiencing the same thing.  But the family is still in the relatively early stages of grief, made worse by the expectation that they too should be functioning normally. 

I know I can’t expect the world to stop – just because mine did.  I just want people to remember him; I need to know that he still matters even though he is gone. 

 

 

progress

My son died in early December……. just writing that is so strange.  But, as I begin to step back into my life, I have to be able to write it and to say it without falling apart. 

It feels like I’m beginning a new phase, with an entirely new set of challenges. There are fewer “I have to get out of here now” moments (like being startled by a comment or deeply moved by an unexpected kindness); but I’m still mastering how to manage those times when I do lose it.  My confidence increases each time I am able to hold back the storm until I am alone (which is one way I know I’m making progress).

Going back to work full-time requires that I “act normal” for longer and longer periods of time.  No more waiting until I have enough energy to do something; I’m now bound by my schedule.  And, knowing that people are counting on me adds an enormous amount of stress. All of this requires energy that I don’t always have (some days, I have only enough energy to get dressed).  I honestly don’t know if I could have made it back without the support, patience and flexibility from my work team.

I am already a different person – at work and at home.  I’m very comfortable with silence, and spend more time in my head than I do with other people.  When I do interact with people, the conversations happen very differently.  For me, the spaces between the words no longer need to be filled.  When a topic is over, there is no rush to begin another.  I’ve noticed that not everyone is entirely comfortable with extended silence.   

This is one of my favorite quotes: 

We fight for the right to grieve in a society that would rather we “get over it” in three days.  Grieving God’s Way by Margaret Brownley

I used to get so angry when I felt people rushing me (advising me how to move on, or pushing me to cheer up and be grateful I had another son).  Over time, my perspective has changed; people who care about you may not know what to say or how to say it, but they just want you to be OK.  All of the wonderful people in my life – family and friends who have carried me with their love and support; I can almost feel their relief when I am having a good day.  I know in my heart that their deepest wish is for me to feel better.