When we lose a child, it is both a raw and totally numbing feeling. The loss is all encompassing. There is no past, no future, only a present and pervasive pain. I think when my son died, for the first time, I actually understood the term, "primal scream." We find ourselves asking these questions. How can I go on? How did this happen? What should I do? How can I manage? Will this pain ever end? We also find we have no answers. This is grief in its initial phase. Many questions, but no answers to be had.
What helped me emerge from this acute pain, numbness and constant fatigue was a resolve to get through it and go on. I literally woke up one morning, looked at the dog and asked her, "What are we going to do Ambie? Chrissy is gone and Daddy is gone?" As always, she looked at me and slowly wagged her tail. The grief affected her as well. She moved from sleeping on one corner of the bed where she could see out the windows and over the whole development. Instead, she moved to sleeping on the opposite corner of the bed where she could see out the bedroom door to watch the stairs. She seemed to be waiting for Chris to return home, to come up the stairs and go into his room. Amber clearly missed Chris. She slept in that same spot every night for the rest of her long life.
I sat up in bed and put my feet on the floor. I looked back at my dog. She needed me and I needed her. I suddenly said to myself, "I can either let this destroy me or carry on." In that instant I chose to go on. I realized after all my years experience as a nurse, "No one wants to be around a constantly angry and bitter person," regardless of the cause. That negativity pushes people away. The very people we need to give us love and support during grief.
I am not saying we cannot express grief, bitterness or anger. However, it is best done in private or with a few selected family members or friends or in a grief support group. If this does not help, perhaps it might be time to seek the assistance of a professional counselor. The main thing is to avoid isolation. Accept help and appropriate friendly gestures. I had two very good friends who helped me get through those early days. Grief and loss of a child is a journey with a long road with steps forward and steps backwards. Navigating this road takes resolve and courage. Moving forward is doable, but not easy. Still, it can be done with determination, faith and prayer.
It may not seem like it now, but with effort you can move forward. Notice, I am not saying moving on or closure. We do not "move on" after the death of a child and there is no such thing as "closure." The death of a child is like an unfinished book with missing chapters. So many milestones never reached or witnessed by us. But, we can move on to a productive, meaningful life. We can try to establish some kind of remembrance of our child. Or attach some good to come out of our child's death by giving help to other kids and parents or preventing similar tragedies.
It took me some time to finally re-socialize. I was alone for 17 years. Then God shed his light upon me with a wonderful, kind, compassionate, strong, intelligent, creative and funny man. He was a widower who had also taken care of his wife during a long illness. After five years, we married just recently. We understood each other other's lives. We both understand we each had a late spouse who we loved for many years. He was married for 51 years, me for 28. We understand we need to have pictures of our late spouses, go to the cemetery and even call each other by our previous spouse's name on occasion. I suppose instead of a mistake, that is really a compliment. Anyway, we laugh about it. No meltdown or writing to "Dear Abby." Our late spouses will always be our previous spouses.
He has six children, ten grandchildren and several great grandchildren. I went from being alone to marriage and a very large, wonderful, loving step-family. I thank God everyday for my new husband and what he has brought to my life and for the good fortune and happiness God has bestowed on me. My new husband and I both agree that we needed each other. My husband is an immeasurable help and support to me. I try to support him as well. I never dreamed my life would move in this direction and that I could be so happy after so many years of drought. Thank you, God.
I still think of my son and late husband every day, several if not many times a day. I feel loss. I probably always will as I know my new husband does. But it is seldom overwhelming like before. We have both learned to live with loss and past difficult times and memories. We have each other to lean on for support. Nothing will ever be the same as seeing my son grow into maturity and possibly marry and have kids. In life, we take the wins we can get. Life has no Super Bowls or winning every game. I just hope and pray my son and late husband are happy for me. My late husband's family like my new husband very much as do my family and many friends.
When dark days come, and they do, do not despair. Remember: "The voice of life is soft so we must listen hard." (Anonymous Author) There is a spark of life in us even in our most desperate times. Search for it.
God bless. May He bring us all strength, peace and future good and loving memories to grasp.
With love, Rosemarie