Grief does not demand pity; it requests acknowledgement.
Grief is not simply a feeling, it is a deep indescribable anguish of the soul that permeates our entire being. It exists whenever there is trauma and loss. I do not say this to diminish anyone’s grief in the loss of a beloved pet, a mate, etc.; however, there is no grief that compares with the loss of a child. You do not get over it, you do not move on from it. You only move forward with it. The excruciating pain becomes a lifelong companion.
Bereaved parents are not wallowing in self-pity. A part of their soul has been violently torn from them. Yes, they go on and find a manner of functioning that may appear to the outsider as if they have ‘gotten over it’; but let me be frank: NO! They have not! Appearances can be deceiving. Any unexpected ‘trigger’ can cause a downward spiral that breaks the sound barrier. In an instant, we can find ourselves emerged in a mire of quicksand, sucking us down a black hole of torment, flooded with memories of what was…that can never be again. All possibilities of making new memories is nonexistent. Another child will never replace the one that we no longer can hold. The anguish is simply indescribable to anyone who has been so fortunate to not find themselves on this journey.
A bereaved parent does not ‘heal’ in the same manner as others who have experienced loss and grief for other reasons. We don’t ‘choose’ to dwell on ‘negativity’. We aren’t desiring anyone’s ‘pity’. Child loss is in a category all its own. Therapy is not going to make us ‘feel better’. It may offer us some coping options which can be beneficial. But to think we are going to somehow, someday, be ‘cured’ is utter foolishness. We will carry our grief with us until the day we die. We will find a ‘safe place’ for it within ourselves, tucked away so that you can ‘feel better’ about us; but don’t ever deceive yourself into believing that we have ‘arrived’ at some imaginary utopia that you may desire for us.
Daily, we think about our children. Daily, when no one is looking, we hurt. We will never be the person we once were…ever! It will take us however long it takes simply to appear to you what you perceive as ‘normal’ and ‘better’. We will smile again; we will laugh again. But never be the same again. You won’t ever have back the same person we once were. Whether or not you can accept that is up to you.
All we ask of you is to acknowledge our grief. We don’t want you to ‘fix us’. We request that you validate our sorrow, and give our grief recognition. We demand nothing from you. We pray that you never know what we know. We would not wish this on our worst enemy.
What you can do is simply be kind.
Stand alongside us.
Accept the ‘new me’.
God will sustain us. He will carry us. He will not forsake us. He, Himself, is well ‘acquainted with grief’.
‘He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.’
God ‘gets it’ even if no one else does. It is in Him that we place our Hope. It is in Him and by Him that we have the promise of the Resurrection. It is in Him that we know there will come a day when all our tears shall be wiped away. There is no one else, nothing else, that can offer us that Hope.
So, please, know that we love you. If you need to grieve the loss of the ‘old me’, then please do so. At least, we are still here…though different. Our perspective on life has been forever altered. Things we once feared, no longer exist. Having to embrace a parent’s worst fear imaginable does that to a person. Understand that if we are expecting you to call or stop by at a certain time…and you don’t…we now have a new fear. We no longer take such things for granted. We now live in a world of awareness of how quickly things can change in an instant. We no longer take life for granted. Our values have also changed. What once was important, may now seem trivial. What once we perceived as trivial, has become of great value. You do not need to walk on eggshells around us. Believe me when I say, we can hear the crunching when you do.
Just be you and let me be me…the ‘new’ me.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Contributor at ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/2017/03/the-pain-of-holidays-after-the-loss-of-loved-ones/