I can count the days since July 2nd on one hand when I have not shed a tear. I haven’t had one of those days in a while.  I am working on not letting those tearless days make me feel guilty so that, perhaps,they can happen more often.   I have to understand that no one is keeping track of how filled with grief I am.  I have constructed an emotional shrine to my son and tears are one of the frequent offerings I give.

I listened to a webinar yesterday on “being stuck” in grief.  I know some people hate that word and concept of a “webinar”. People sitting in their little spaces, faces lit by a computer screen as they listen, and type in their questions.   For those of us who have grief as their constant companion, however, it is a helpful way to do things.  We can snuffle and cry without feeling like we are upsetting anyone else.

If you are interested in the webinar, go to The Compassionate Friends website.  There is a link there to the recording.  The presentation lasts an hour and the information is simple, straightforward and spot-on.

I found the information to reaffirm many things that I have been feeling.  It also helped me identify where I am right now.  It gave me a hope that I can continue this journey.  I felt like it gave me permission to feel what I need to feel without a time-table.

My husband looked like a storm about to break this morning.  Bad dreams.  He was awake a lot last night.   It made me think about something mentioned in the webinar.

Bad feelings are not the same for everyone and the what helps one person may not help another.   Our grief is as unique as we are.  It may share some similar characteristics and that gives us the the ability to empathize.  Our grief is our own.

I am fortunate to have people who will listen.  They don’t try to offer advice or minimize my feelings.  They are patient with me and listen, even though I repeat some things.   I can tell they believe  what I am saying and they respect me and my ability to keep moving.

I can’t “do” anything for my son now.  He is not here for me to do anything for.  A point mentioned which is uncomfortably true is that “grief is what we do for ourselves.”   It feels less selfish to say “I am grieving FOR my son.”  The truth is I am grieving the relationship that has been yanked away from me.   I worked hard on that relationship.  I sacrificed for it.  I listened, I thought about it, I exerted effort to make it happen.  I was an active, invested participant.   It took two of us to make it happen, and the partner I had in that relationship is gone.   My investment was not wasted but I have energy in reserve that I intended to use for that relationship.  I don’t want to invest it in anything else.   I want him, and I am feeling sorry for myself.

The grief is for me.

Some of us (many of us) are brought up to serve.  Mothers and fathers are to serve each other and their families.  Some of us get so caught up in the service that we forget to take care of ourselves or do things for ourselves.   It becomes something wrong.  We don’t deserve it.

We certainly don’t feel like we deserve this grief.  We didn’t want this situation to happen.  To say that we are grieving for ourselves sounds like we don’t love the person who is gone!   Surely, it is more acceptable to shed those tears, have those horrible thoughts and refuse to experience joy in honor of our loved one.

My unique relationship with my son makes my grief unique.  My husbands relationship with his son makes his grief unique, as it does also for our daughter.   We are fortunate to have each other to talk to.  I am constantly amazed at the variety of emotions we experience in one day.  When I am up, my husband is down.  My daughter likewise.  If you were to plot it on a graph it would look like a mathematicians nightmare.

Nothing that we feel is affecting what happened to our son/brother.  That is unchangeable.  He is not loving us more or less.  The effect of his love on my life still remains and will remain as long as I live.  My grief may not change for a while, or ever.  I will learn to carry it.   I may even learn to eventually put it down every now and then.  No one can dictate to me how that will be.  I will be patient with the fact that this is mine, undeserved as it is.

I miss him.  I love him.  I never wanted to part with him.  I looked forward to seeing what he would do.  I enjoyed conversations with him.  I loved the way he loved me.  I struggle with believing he is really gone.   I am grieving for myself.

In my family, it makes me sad to see the grief in my husband and daughter.  I know my grief hurts my husband.  It is a struggle to keep that grief from blocking us from those who remain.  It is like our emotional arms are so full we can’t use them to embrace anyone or anything else.

When I do have the strength to let go a bit, it is not my son I am letting go of, it is my own grief.  I don’t need to feel guilty.  Nothing about my love or past relationship with my son has changed.  The physical presence is gone.  The potential for more is gone.  What I have had is not gone.  The lessons learned, the memories all remain.  Putting down the grief I have for myself is something I can do a little at a time.  It is mine to do with as I will.   My son is not and was not grief.  It cannot take his place.  Nothing can.

About pathfinder

Artist, Writer, Walking wounded.
This entry was posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Family, Friends and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Grief

  1. Reading this.. has given me another way to ‘think about’ grief. Thank-you. Granny Gee

  2. Pam, I am constantly impressed by how what you write affects my heart. It’s hard to find the words to say how much what you write means to me. I cannot relate to your experience, but your sharing is so precious to me. I am thankful for it and for you.

    Much love, Paige

    • Linda says:

      Perfectly said…thank you for your insight. I have learned to never feel “guilty” for taking a break from my grief. After 1 1/2 years, I now know that we need to allow ourselves time to recharge. Without that reprive, we are just not able to handle the next wave when it comes.

  3. Anne Dionne says:

    Very well written article. I can particularly relate to the expression of our “emotional arms.” My son died suddenly 3 months prior to the 9/11/2011 attacks on the U.S. I noticed that my emotional reaction to those events was quite mild compaired to most. I realized that my emotional reserve had reached its maximum, and I couldn’t receive any more pain.

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