When a tragedy first strikes, and we feel as if we have just been run over by a Mack Truck, many often gather to our side to support us. They drop off ‘gifts’, send flowers and cards, cook us meals, let us know how sorry they are that such a thing has occurred, and attempt to console us with words which are sometimes helpful…sometimes not so much. Whatever manner they choose, they are there for us. We are completely dazed and in shock. We feel as if we are floating in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Often, we are led around by others as they tell us where to stand, when and where to sit, etc. We have to be reminded to eat. We become the Walking-Dead…the Zombies. Thoughts are shooting so rapidly through our brains that we feel as if our minds have gone blank and that we are incapable of thinking at all; it becomes nearly impossible to focus on anything.
However, usually around three to six months after our child has passed on, others gradually are returning to their own lives. At about six to nine months, when our initial blanket of denial is whisked away and the harsh reality begins to make its existence evident, we often find ourselves alone… for the most part. At such a time, it is quite common to feel as if we are going to lose our mind; that the guys in the white coats with straight-jackets in hand will come knocking any day to take us to the ‘funny farm’. We begin to notice the absence of friends, and even family. We feel as if we have come down with the Bubonic Plague the way in which some begin to avoid us. This only adds to our grief, and doubts of our own sanity.
This is normal!
Yes, you heard me correctly…this is normal. It is part of what has been coined the ‘New Normal’. We are learning to walk again with a severed heart. We appear ‘different’ to others, and even to ourselves. Why? Because we are different. But, here’s the thing, we’re not ill…we are grieving. In addition, we are NOT contagious! Though we certainly begin to feel as if we are, based upon our observations of avoidance by others.
When my adopted son was raped at twelve years old, I was in a state of shock somewhat similar to the shock I felt when my son died. Only, there was no funeral, no gifts, meals, condolences. No one gathered around me and asked if there was anything they could do to help. I mentioned it to few, except for those I pursued for justice. One day, however, while at my children’s school I, for whatever reason, spoke of it to another Mother. Within a few days I was called in on the red carpet (literally) and told by the Vice-Principal that I mustn’t speak of this again at the school because it was upsetting to some of the other mothers; they couldn’t handle it. I was stunned. The only thought that ran through my mind was that they can’t handle hearing about it, but I’m living it!
Folks don’t like their boat to be rocked. They prefer to live in a little bubble filled with ‘happy faces’. After all, they have their own problems. The dog peed on the rug; the coffeemaker wouldn’t work this morning; they got a flat tire; the mail arrived late. Yes, everyone has problems. As a matter of fact, after my son died and I had to return to work, my boss turned to me one day and stated: ‘Everyone has problems’.
Burying a child is not a ‘problem’. It’s not even close. Burying a child is an extremely excruciating and anguish filled traumatic tragedy! The reality of such an event may frighten you, but could you all that have been so fortunate to not have had to walk this journey please not treat us who grieve like we have a contagious disease? It only adds to our sorrow; it makes our burden heavier. Avoidance is not support; it’s unkind. It causes additional wounding. I promise you as one who values integrity that you will not catch something by being around me. My child dying is not going to cause your child to die. What has happened to me is not
It’s not even mildly contagious. Our world has been turned upside down and inside out. We need ‘normality’ around us. It helps ground us when we are feeling like a lose live wire. No, you can’t fix us. No, there really aren’t any words to speak that will make us ‘feel’ better. We may be terminally ill with grief, nevertheless, we won’t make you ill, too. You can hold our hand, give us a hug, allow us to cry on your shoulder…but you still won’t be infected with what we have. Please don’t allow your love to wax cold toward us. We do need you. We do appreciate your presence. We have lost our greatest treasure; please do not add to our loss. One day, when we have regained some strength, we will be able to express our gratitude. We will never forget those who ‘stayed’.
(((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)))