Before my son died 16 years ago, I had read up about the bereavement process and did my best to comfort friends in the same position. But, until my own son died, I realized how little I actually understood.
I remember saying to my late husband, ‘I feel as if I am trapped in the audience of a Dr. Phil show. This can’t be happening to us. No words nor acts can remove the canyon in my heart.’ One does not ‘get over’ losing a child. I knew that I had two choices; the choice to give up on life or the choice to grow through this tragedy. But, it did not occur overnight.
Someone told me that ‘He is in a better place.’ She said this to me when I was in the middle of the worst experience a parent can have; I had lost my son. She could have said; ‘There are no words to express what you and your family must be experiencing.’
‘In time you will feel better.’ One cannot put a stop-watch on the amount of time it takes to grieve for someone. The person who said that did not mean any harm but he had no idea how long my grieving process would take,
I didn’t appreciate it when someone trivialized what had happened to me by telling me her family story of tragedy. The timing was bad. I know that no harm was meant, but it was hard to take.
I needed to hear my son’s name used and I know that this made some people feel uncomfortable but like most bereaved parents, I had the fear that in time, the world might forget my son.
My other children had lost a sibling, their older brother. And, during the long grieving period, they had also lost both of their parents as my husband and I were far too emotionally drained to give them the time they deserved during that difficult period. I tried to spend time with them but it wasn’t easy.
Holidays and anniversaries carry a particular kind of pain. Few people remember the second anniversary of a death so the friends who called, visited or sent e-mails, touched me deeply.
I wondered how we would manage to continue with our lives. Both my husband and I stressed to the children that although it would take a great deal of time and work, we would have to begin life anew: a different life, without our son and brother. We gave one another all the support that we could and eventually realized that the way spring follows winter, life can be reborn and reshaped. We managed to pick up the threads of our lives but will never forget our son.
My husband continually reminded us of the Serenity Poem and how it kept him going”
God grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
The Courage to change the things I can
and the Wisdom to know the difference.