Earlier this evening, a gal asked some questions for a group discussion she will be taking part of this week. It stopped me in my tracks momentarily because, quite honestly, I’ve never been asked such questions. Those of us that have traveled this journey for some years are ‘expected’ to have ‘gotten over it’ by now. In the world of psychology, if your grief has continued on past one or two years, they consider it ‘compounded’ or ‘dysfunctional’ grief. They speak of things in which they have no true knowledge.
Nope. It’s plain and simple grief…and all grief is complicated.
We do move forward on this journey and it does change over time, as most things do. However, IT STILL HURTS! No one outside of grief groups asks me about my son. Or, if it’s the first time they learn that I have a son that died, they ask how long ago. Once I inform them that it was eighteen years ago, they immediately ‘move on’ in the conversation sort of with the unspoken words of: ‘Oh, well if it was that long ago it’s not important’.
Nope. It’s still important to me.
The same gal asked: “What do people need to know in order to help/support the NOT-newly bereaved?” At first, my mind went completely blank. I was taken back by the question because I don’t recall ever being asked this before, at least not in this manner. What do I need in the form of help/support? I honestly didn’t know how to respond. When my brain began to slowly kick back into gear, I told her this:
“I’ve been on this road 18+ yrs., longer if you include my 4 pregnancy losses, the 1st 48 yrs. ago. I want folks to know I STILL HURT!!! I still miss my babies…all of them…who they may have been, could have been. I’m older, getting closer to seeing them soon. But I have noticed something new taking place. The ‘missing’ of them is being replaced with an intense ‘longing’ for them the closer I get to seeing them again. The feeling is similar, but different. IDK that one is worse than the other..but different.”
She then proceeded to ask three more questions: “If you were to have the chance to “teach” someone how to support you, what would you say?
Would you want them to ask you occasionally how you’re doing in regards to missing your loved ones?
Or would you want them to notice when you are mentioning them, and be intentional to ask questions and let you talk/share about them?
To which I responded:
Hmmm..lots to answer here…1- I would want them to validate my grief…not minimize, not ‘diss’, not making me feel as if I ‘SHOULD’ be feeling other than I do. Simply ‘accept’ what is and be a friend. 2- Yes, I would love for someone to ask…to know that they care…to know that they acknowledge the existence of my children. 3- Yes.
Those of us who are ‘not-newly bereaved’ get lost in the weeds. We have lived with the heartache daily for so long that we become ‘accustomed’ to it in variant degrees. However, we never forget. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of my son. I still have pictures of him hanging on the wall as I do of all my children. He is still my son. He still exists. His time in this world still matters. His life still affects every member of my immediate family. He’s still my other children’s brother. His legacy lives on. I still can picture him smiling in a multitude of settings. I have no desire to have those memories erased or rearranged by some EMDR Therapy or any other. I neither want nor seek a ‘cure’. I love my son. Why would I want to forget him or permit some hocus-pocus to rearrange the way I remember him? Often, with great Love comes great sorrow. I don’t want to pop a pill so that I can’t ‘feel’. I prefer to embrace the pain.
I will add what I have often told others who are newly-bereaved and fear that they will never be able to come up for air. The moments of excruciating pain occur less often over time; the duration of those moments shortens; however, the intensity of the pain remains constant. So, overall, it does get easier. We eventually do laugh again, though we are often hit with some unfounded guilt when we first do. We do move forward with our lives and learn to ‘function’ again and be productive. We go on to build new relationships even though we may have to establish some boundaries in which we ‘pull the weeds to make room for the beautiful flowers’. We don’t leave our deceased children behind; we carry them forward with us. Some may have hardened their hearts with bitterness to block the pain, but those who have made such choices will hit a brick wall at some point and will have to eventually embrace the pain. Escapism which can take many forms on the spectrum from the negatives of sex, drink, drugs, etc., are a downward spiral. In the positive form of working longer hours or becoming enmeshed in ‘good works’ are obviously healthier choices, but can still be escapism. One way or another, we have to walk through this grieving process tunnel. As my readers know well, I have found my only Hope in Jesus the Christ, the Resurrected One. Because of Him, I know I will see my children again. Without that Hope, I would not still be here.
My heart, and I believe the hearts of most that are ‘not-newly bereaved’, often break for those who are just beginning this journey. We have traveled the many twists and turns, peeling through the multiple layers of the onion skins, and do know some of the pitfalls. There are days I simply cannot read the great sorrow of the newbies. It opens up Pandora’s Box for me and there are simply times I lack the strength to go there. It’s not that I don’t care, quite the contrary. I care too much. I know there’s no ‘fixes’. All I have to offer is the Hope and comfort I have been given and what has brought me peace. I can help you carry your burden momentarily, but I can’t carry it for you. No one can but God. He’s the only One Who truly understands grief and also has the strength to carry it.
So, for us ‘NOT-newly Bereaved’, we simply request acknowledgement. We still fight battles, perhaps lost a few along the way, but we have won the war. We’re still here; we have survived.
…And you shall, too.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728 Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/ Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))