Ten years. Ten thousand sighs. Ten million tears.
Inconceivable that it could be so long, that I have carried on.
Unbelievable became the truth;
Grief became the norm.
But slowly inconsolable became absorbed
And glimmers of hope emerged.
Would there be new life one day,
Would I be glad I stayed?
I’m glad today.
And that’s all I have.
Posted in depression, grief, hope, losing a son, loss, pain, Parenting, sadness, suffering, suicide
Tagged grief, hope, losing a son, Loss, moving on, sadness, surviving suicide
In New Orleans we are very aware of the power of great waves pushed up by hurricanes. Driving along the coast recently I was reminded of this power and how much had to be rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.
The loss of a loved one can be compared to the power of the hurricane tidal wave: it drags off someone we love and leaves devastation in its wake; the landscape of our life is forever changed. We look around and we recognize the pieces of our lives but they are all scattered, out of place. Some are damaged beyond recognition. Some merely broken. And the realisation that we have to rebuild everything again feels overwhelming, impossible, unreasonable. We just want to sit down in the midst of the devastation and quit. But we can’t. There are other people who have been made emotionally homeless along with us and we have to pick ourselves up for their sake and begin to build a new shelter, a new emotional home, a new sense of safety.
So we gather the pieces together, we reclaim our foundation and we start to rebuild.
It has been 12 years since Katrina and the coast boasts new construction on higher foundations. But in between the new houses are empty lots still unreclaimed, whose owners barely manage to keep the grass under control. Having given up and decided to rebuild their lives somewhere else the owners don’t even want to visit any more.
It has been ten years this March since my oldest son, Malcolm, died. My husband and I are still together, our emotional home has been rebuilt. We have hope and joy; we share holidays with our youngest son and extended family; we build new memories. But in our physical house, as in our emotional house, remains a room full of scattered pieces of Malcolm’s life. We visit his room, using it for hanging up shirts and holding boxes of Christmas items until they return to the attic. And on the bookshelves and in the locker remain pieces of Malcolm’s life that don’t fit anymore but we can’t part with. And that’s just how it is.
Originally written for my Traces of Hope blog, tracesofhope.wordpress .com
Posted in grief, hope, losing a son, loss, Moving on, Rebuilding, sadness, suffering
Tagged grief, Loss, Rebuilding, sadness
“While medications may help to allay some symptoms of anxiety and depression, we hear over and over from those taking tranquilizers and antidepressants that their symptoms persist or, in some cases, are worse. As noted bereavement therapist, Peter Lynch, MSW, said at an annual Holiday Service of Remembrance, referring to the many feelings associated with grief, “The only way through it is through it.” Medication doesn’t make the pain of grief go away. Clients need to understand this important point.”
The only way through it is through it. And for some of us the second year is worse. How can that possibly be? Can I really hurt more than I hurt now? Maybe you are really feeling it, really overwhelmed by the pain of it. But for some people those first few months, that entire year of firsts, is survived in a state of withdrawal from feeling, as if you are observing yourself going through the motions. And after some months it is possible that the defenses start coming down and the reality of the pain begins to be felt. For me it was just a week before I felt it. The day after the funeral. That was when my numbness receded. I was overwhelmed and had to be hospitalized. But for some a whole year can be spent in emotional separation, distanced observation, numbness. As your psyche hopes to build up strength for when the pain becomes more real and the fantasy of “it can’t be true” finally breaks down.
I imagine it must be much harder to resist that fantasy if you don’t get to see your loved one before burial. For example if they die overseas in a military conflict and there are no remains to view. I do believe in the value of that last viewing, of the emotional closure it allows. But me, I couldn’t watch as they closed the casket; I couldn’t watch as they lowered him into the ground. That much reality was too much for me. I was still in the distanced observation stage.
So be kind to yourself. Don’t set expectations on your grief. And don’t allow others to give you a time limit. We each have our own path to take. Just don’t take it alone.
Posted in depression, grief, loss, sadness, suffering, suicide
Tagged death, depression, grief, healing, letting go, losing a son, Loss, moving on, pain, sorrow, surviving suicide
A friend recently lost her husband, a young man of 45. They have six children, two still in grammar school. Seeing her at the Vigil Service brought up so much pain … for me, for her, for her children.
When you experience a loss, even someone else’s loss, your own pain surfaces. You recognize the physical signs of brokenness. Your heart hurts for them. And this morning a poem came to me as they sometimes do, out of the deeps of feelings.
The heart breaks along the same line
when your heart-held love dies;
husband or son, adult or child
the pieces separate and breath
Cheeks tremble and the whole body follows
as people press upon you
to say hollow words filled with heaviness.
And then it arrives that moment of closing;
don’t look! you won’t survive.
Numb now but inwardly screaming you follow.
“I see people but where is he?
He should be here to comfort me
if I am broken.
But he is the why of all this pain.
Must I look – they expect it.
Too many grieving
How can I give?
I am empty.
Don’t ask of me, don’t ask;
I cannot mother you today.
But I do – I must – he would demand it.
And so I go on and love them for him; love him through them.”
My blessings and prayers surround you Jenn.
Posted in grief, loss
Tagged grief, Loss
How do I process my grief?
Does suffering have any meaning?
Do we live in a random chaotic universe?
Is it time to re-evaluate my understanding of “God”?
This book is for anyone who has suffered a loss – of safety, of one’s home, of health, of a loved one or a relationship, or of one’s faith … and found themselves asking, “Why?” And then wondering, “Who am I asking?” and hoping they were not alone.
Posted in anger, anniversaries, depression, doubt, faith, God, Grace, grief, hope, letting go, losing a son, loss, meaning of life, Moving on, pain
Tagged anger, Anniversaries, cycles, death, depression, doubt, faith, God, Grace, Gratitude, grief, healing, hope, letting go, losing a son, Loss, meaning, mourning, moving on, pain, sorrow, suffering, suicide, surviving suicide
Reflections of a family member whose mother has died:
I’m in pain. I feel overwhelmed. I’m numb. I’m angry. So don’t “But” me. Don’t give me pious platitudes, “But she’s at peace.” Great – what the hell do I do now, I’m freaking out! “But she’s in a better place.” I’m glad, really I am. So where does that leave me? I’m all alone now! She was the strong one; how am I going to make it? “But she’s out of pain,” I’m thankful, God am I thankful! So can you help me with my pain, now? Because I can’t breathe too well, and it feels as if there is a golf ball lodged in my throat.
You just keep Butting me, trying to push me out of my grief. And I can’t say any of these things back to you. I can’t even form my thoughts, let alone voice coherent sentences. I am grieving damn it, just let me be!
And if I say “Thank you,” it really means take your “But” and move along because I’m not there yet.
Too often, when we have experienced a loss, people respond with well- meaning platitudes. These don’t really help you and you don’t need to feel bad for feeling this way. Also, maybe there is someone you know who needs to, gently, be told how you feel and perhaps you can just show them this reflection. Better than butting heads with them!
Over the past few years I have used the opportunity offered by this blog to reflect on my journey of healing from the loss of my son. I thank all those who have reached out to me or shared their stories on this blog.
I have a new book coming out that tells the story of my healing journey and my journey through grief and loss if you are interested in my full story.
Posted in depression, faith, God, Grace, grief, hope, letting go, loss, meaning of life, suffering
Tagged anger, doubt, faith, God, Grace, grief, healing, hope, Loss, religion
Pull back the veil of fate
Does it have to be this hard
Does it have to be this way
Am I too late
There’s another day
Speak to your power
Speak to your hope
Smoke another cigar
Light another fire
Pull back the veil of fate
Walk through that door
It’s not too late
We wait for you each day
We say your words each night
We need your voice
Unwrap your fate
Undo your choice
Don’t let it be too late
Posted in grief, hope, letting go, loss, Poetry, sadness
Tagged grief, hope, letting go, Loss, love, sadness
Image from thuland-hansen.no
This time of the year. Is it the right time? There’s not enough time. Do you have time for a …
We seem to be controlled by this thing called time. But what is it? It is simply a measurement of change and things change at different rates and hence time seems to go fast or slow but it doesn’t really.
After a loss time seems to move inexplicably slowly. The clock’s incessant ticking in an otherwise silent room is an assault on your ears. What do I do now? Is it time to eat? Or did I eat already? What day is it? It’s still today? I was sure it must be tomorrow by now.
When the arrangements are all made and the services are all over there is only time, so much time. Can I fast forward to a year from now, two years, whenever the pain will be bearable? Sadly, no. And this is how time can be seen as a friend and not a villain. We need this slow time, this silent time. We need to listen inside ourselves and hear what is going on and we need to learn ways to cope. We need to reach out and find people and resources and that takes patience with ourselves and our pain, and, yes, it takes time. If we rush too soon back into a job where there is never enough time to get everything done, then we will be in danger of denying ourselves the sacred, silent, sorrowful time our hearts need.
This is a season of gift-giving, so be sure to give yourself the gift of time and allow your sorrow and your loss to heal at your own pace and in your own fashion, and of course in your own time.
Blessings to all…
Once upon a time there was a little boy called Malcolm who had a mummy and a daddy who loved him very much. And he had a baby brother called James that he wasn’t so sure about at first, but who he grew to love and love.
Little Malcolm really liked to laugh and make jokes. He loved camping and fishing and making a secret language with his cousin T.J.. Little Malcolm had a giggle like his mother. But some days Malcolm was sad, and some days he was very, very sad. And the Sad inside him grew like a big rock.
When Malcolm was all grown and finished college he came back home top live and study some more. His baby brother was all grown up too and just starting college.
Time passed at home and Malcolm had some lovely days and lots of good friends. He went to Austria and took beautiful pictures. The sad inside him was still growing but there was room for the Happy, the Silly, the Serious, and the Helpful as well. Malcolm was helpful to lots of people, and even to his own mummy when her Sad became too big.
One day Malcolm began to feel that his Sad had grown too big; there was no room for Happy and Silly. But Helpful continued to smile a big smile so no one noticed. Then Malcolm began finding it hard to breathe because Sad was so big it filled up his whole chest.
Malcolm was so good at helping others but he hadn’t learnt to help himself. His smile was so big it could shrink other people’s Sad, but it didn’t help his own. If only he had believed he deserved help; if only he had believed he deserved people’s time and love. But he didn’t believe it. he never had.
Then one day the sad was too big altogether. It was bigger than Malcolm. And Malcolm did a very bad, very sad thing. He took a gun and shot himself in the heart. It was the only way he could think of to get rid of his giant Sad. But he didn’t get rid of it, he passed it on to his mummy and daddy and his brother and all his family and friends. And when he shot himself he killed his whole Self – the Happy, the Helpful, the Silly, and the Serious as well. Now there was nothing left of his beautiful smile.
And now Malcolm’s mummy and daddy and his brother James have a giant enormous Sad that is Malcolm-shaped and is sitting on their hearts and making it hard for them to breathe.
Posted in depression, family, grief, losing a son, loss, sadness, suicide
Tagged depression, grief, losing a son, Loss, love, sadness, suicide, surviving suicide