As parents who have lost a child we are pretty hard on ourselves with the memories. We think through the past, both distant and recent and find ourselves spinning our wheels in the mud. We wish we had had a premonition, a clue, a sign, an indication of what was coming so we magically could have prevented it. Had we known and not been able to prevent it – we wish we could have spent more time – so-called “quality” time with our child. We didn’t know.
We didn’t know that the parents who had lost their child before we lost ours were in so much pain. We didn’t know what we should say or do. We didn’t know that there was nothing to be done except acknowledge the loss and to go do little things-things they could never ask for – like grocery shop or pick up the dry cleaning. We didn’t know that sometimes all they needed was someone to come and sit, quietly and maybe read a book to keep them company.
We didn’t know that anything could bring this much pain and sorrow. We didn’t know that life could change so abruptly and then continue to mock us at every turn.
We were not aware of our own short memories when it came to other’s grief and pain and are shocked at how forgotten we feel in a very short amount of time.
We did not know that we could feel so uncomfortable in our own skin. Holidays and visits from dearly loved friends could become objects of dread. We did not know we would have to plan escape or alternative routes to try and participate in what used to be every day events.
We did not sign up for this course and we are unwilling participants.
We are the only ones keeping track of our attendance and performance.
To those so unaware we have for the most part successfully masked ourselves and appear to be “getting over it.”
And we get angry for all the things we did not know. We loved our ignorance and did not know how fortunate we were to dwell in it. We find it hard to forgive ourselves for not knowing. It is easier to be angry at ourselves than our departed loved one.
So, in as much as it is possible, I hope to grant myself a little forgiveness today. I plan to take off the gloves that I keep battering myself with. I plan to look in the mirror for a moment and not inventory the lines of grief and pain, but rather see the person my son loved.
I am the person my son loved. She is still here and loved by a daughter and a husband and friends. She was able to love a son and a provide a nurturing environment for him to become a good man. She has learned that life is short and it is not worth anything to dwell on frustration. She has learned to breath in to the count of 7, hold it for 7 and release for 7.
She has learned that nothing is guaranteed, control is an illusion, love is all that endures.
It takes practice to be present in the moment, but it is worth the effort.
I hope we can all forgive ourselves a little today.