We have passed the first anniversary of our son’s death and into the second year. There have been a few people I have not heard from at all during the first year who have contacted me. I know it is difficult for them. They don’t know what to expect. I have been contacted by a few people who because we had not been in contact for a long time had to be told of our son’s death. They have not gotten back in touch with me.
The second year seems to me to be as hard if not more difficult than the first. Perhaps I need to change the way I count things. Shock played a big role in the first year. It was numbing and blurred thinking about some things that happened.
I looked back at the calendar. There were lots of things that happened from July 2011 to July 2012. Except for photos and a few snatches that seem like remembered dreams I have no concrete memory of some the early events. I remember my daughter’s wedding and in part that was helped by the photos taken.
I started working in the pottery studio sometime in 2011, but I don’t remember when I started that either. Days had a way of sliding over each other lubricated by tears.
The shock passed and reality became more real and focused. The pain changed.
I have no real advice for people concerning how to act toward the bereaved. I have not been where they are. I do not have a sibling who has lost a child recently. I have only two friends who have lost children during the past year and I see in them the way I feel and sometimes we have little to say to each other. I have made friends with people who have lost children. We talk online through the Compassionate Friends network. I was not their friend when they lost their child.
I have retained my sense of humor through this. I find many things funny. I enjoy a good laugh. I am continuing to paint and create. I enjoy the process of painting and working in clay. I enjoy knitting. I read a lot right after my son died, but that for some reason has become more difficult again. I don’t concentrate well when trying to read. Perhaps I need to find some books on tape again.
I still get stuck. I have been stuck for the past few days. I have tried to figure out why. I noticed it about the third day when I realized I had abandoned normal routines. I realized that I was not getting up and taking my usual shower. Meals were forgotten. Boxes of tissues dissolved in front of me. I am writing this so perhaps I have wrenched myself out of that spot for today.
I still wear a mask quite often. It is probably not as effective as I think it is but it gives me a sense of security, pretending that no one can tell how miserable I am at times.
To parents who have not experienced this situation I know I represent their biggest fear. It was my biggest fear too. As long as you have children it is your fear. Perhaps it is more acute when they are younger and taking more risks. Unfortunately I have made friends with people whose loss did not occur until their child was in their 40’s and 50’s. The age does not change the impact of the loss.
If you can’t bring yourself to call me or write me, it is okay. Truly, I understand. You may think that you are going to upset me more. That is as good of an excuse as any from your point of view. At this point there is no “more”. I live each day with an undercurrent that threatens to drag me down if I let it. You are not going to add to it. I know you don’t know what to say. I don’t know what I want to hear. “So sorry for your loss.” is as good as anything.
In this second year the same problems exist as in the first. Those of us who have lost our child want to talk about our child. Unfortunately, there were not many in the first year who were comfortable hearing us talk about them, and now in the second year they assume we are over that part of it.
I have some amazing, brave friends who give me lots of space. They have found the strength to stay close to me. I am so thankful for them. Most have admitted that they were unsure at first and a bit frightened at what they might find in me. Their acceptance is a gift.
At any given moment I am subject to tear up.
I think about my son every day because I think about my daughter and husband every day too.
If you can’t talk to me it is okay. In my honor, and in honor of my son today do this one thing. Make a memory with someone you love. Hug them, call them, tell them what it is you love about them. You won’t regret it.
Life is all about the process and as long as there is a day for me to live, I will work through the process in which I find myself. My family whether still in the world or not abides with me in my heart as do yours, though you may not have had to focus on that yet.
Please don’t feel guilty for not calling, for not writing. You are off the hook.