Grieving the loss of a child is a subject no parent wants to face. It seems obvious when you look around, or watch the news, that there are a lot of reasons to feel grief; and I now know that there a lot of reasons to NOT feel grief. I would like to share what I have learned about transmuting the heartache of losing a child so that perhaps your journey may be a little easier.
Losing Chad, and finding him again, only in a different way, was the most transitional experience in my life spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It changed everything about me and everything about why I thought I was here. I learned that if we don’t deal with our grief, it’ll stalk us. If we can’t surrender, we’ll run for the rest of our days. “Clean grief” helps us to navigate through life’s pleasures and challenges with more freedom. A lot of very serendipitous and incredible things have happened in my life since my son died. It just took me a very long time to open my heart wide enough to see.
For years I’ve been living circles around the subject of grief. It’s difficult to imagine how we can be expected to survive the loss of a child, a beautiful soul that we have no idea how to live without. For me It’s just been one day at a time and by the grace of God. We have all heard that “time heals all wounds” but I believe my friend, a father who had just lost his eighteen year old son, said it best; “it’s not that time heals those wounds as much as it allows us a grace period so that we may learn how to cope with our loss in our own way.”
How does something so right turn out so wrong?
Loss of a Child – My Experience
One thing that I know is that many times life drastically changes our direction and one way or another; we have to go with it. My life back then, when I first learned of my son’s death, felt more like two separate lives; the one before I lost Chad and the one afterwards; the latter, a place I didn’t want to live. I wasn’t there with him, although I wanted to be in those first months-one of the legacies of suicide-and I wasn’t here with me either.
As I resisted feeling the pain of loss, my heart contracted causing me to feel separate and alone; all the while crying out, “Why God?” I felt like I stood on the Platform of Limbo Station literally for years in some sort of time warp. I was lost. I wanted to catch the first train out of there but I really had no idea where to go or even how to buy a ticket.
In those first days, which turned into months, and then into years, I felt like a zombie. The busy-ness of life buzzed all around me but I couldn’t feel it. The problem was I felt dead inside. Even my friends laughed again when I felt sure I never would. I could hear the voices of well meaning people trying to reach me – sooth me with platitudes that felt like bullets against my protective barrier of pain and shock. Somehow, through it all, my body continued to put one foot in front of the other and to lift an occasional fork to my lips.
I was fortunate to have friends who were unrelenting in their care for me. I continued to work, which was also a blessing in disguise. I remember marveling at the fact that I was able to bring life and a smile to my voice when, in fact, I felt none in my heart. Even though I was willing to seek help, believe me when I say, there were plenty of times I procrastinated, made excuses, and played victim. Friends and family became weary and just wanted me to “get over it” and I became weary from the effort of trying to convince them that I had.
After seven years, I thought – HOPED – that I had already gone through the hard part of grieving the loss of my child. Even now when my inner voice says, “Slow down” or when I feel pregnant with emotion and I just need a good cry; my first instinct is still to run. I have learned the hard way that just because you kick and scream, experiencing all of the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of feeling helpless, anxious, irritable, angry, depressed, foggy, indecisive or apathetic for your own welfare, doesn’t mean that you have gone through ‘clean grief’.
If I Knew then what I know now
Even though grieving is an individual journey that few people will escape; like most learning experiences in life, everyone will find their own unique way of moving through it. Grieving just takes as long as it takes and going through this process is much like peeling away the layers of an onion. In this human experience, I find that we’re more alike than different even though we are wired in dissimilar ways mentally and emotionally, have our own coping abilities, our own unique relationship with our child, and diverse spiritual and support systems available to us.
This web site is now reaching people all over the world. I feel your fear, confusion and frustration in the words with which you search this site and I know you are desperate for answers. My desire is that I may help others travel through some of the roadblocks that keep us stuck in hardwired thought and emotional loops, repeating our song of suffering like an old scratched record.
I know that my answers won’t necessarily be your answers but my hope is that you will allow me to heal myself in serving you and that the words that come straight from my heart will provide honesty, comfort and faith so that you don’t have to feel so all alone in your journey. Grieving for the loss of a child will not be the same for any of us but I’m hoping that I may offer some suggestions that will allow for the reinvigoration of your soul.
Coming Back from the Dead
“If love has no boundaries, maybe I can reach you there, across that veil, in the swirling mist. I’ve sought you in the crisp, inky night skies filled to the brim with magic diamond stars twinkling. I can’t see you, even when I soften my gaze. I breathe into my heart and listen intently to the quiet and hope desperately that I will hear your voice there. My nerves are alert for the gentle wisp of your touch on my face. I know your touch, different than before. Is it real? How do I know it’s you? With no time or space continuum, you are reachable but how do I find you? You send signs, imprinting my mind so that I recognize them. One moment I’m smiling and the next, the shadow of doubt crosses my heart. You send stronger signs, crazy stuff that makes me laugh out loud in wonder. I can almost hear you laughing with me. I speak your name. Then my mind shakes its head and tells me I’m gullible and desperate.”