Saturday Morning Message: Replying to Comments About Your Grief Journey
Author: Carol Lane
This week's question had so many responses that I am going to keep my comments short, but I wanted to send you a picture of a rose, my favorite flower, and have you read this poem, "Don't Tell Me That You Understand," written by Joanetta Hendel and sent by Karl, father of Tre. Karl wrote, "I sent my family and friends this great poem I found hoping it would help." The last lines of the poem are the perfect short words to say to those people who think you should be somehow over your grief. "Just hold my hand and let me cry, and say, 'My friend, I care.'"
Would you like to read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. If you would like to send a message communicating your thoughts to one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them. I encourage you to reply to the question of the week by emailing your response to firstname.lastname@example.org. I directly receive all emails sent to this address. In order to have your reply included in the week's Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.
QUESTION FOR NEXT WEEK'S SATURDAY MORNING MESSAGE
Adra, mother of Kyle, sent this question: Do you have a favorite photograph of your loved one? Write a short paragraph about the picture. This will be a great way to introduce our loved ones.
♫ SONG FOR THE WEEK
Anne, mother of Michael, sent the song this week, which is "My Buddy." Anne wrote, "This song is so meaningful to me. I lost my husband, John, on June 6, 2015. He was a Purple Heart Korean War veteran, and his nickname was Buddy. We were married 59 years, and he was my Buddy and my best friend. I hope you enjoy hearing the words to this song as much as I do. It is a very old song, and the sentiments fit my feelings!"
ANSWERS FROM SURVIVORS
From Timothy, father of Thomas: This has helped me, and perhaps it will mean something to you. Grief, at least to me, is the same road traveled differently by each person who has been made to drudge its dreary path. We all have to find our own way, our own route, our own speed on the road of grief. There are no guidelines, no warning signs, no directional indicators. Only a difficult, tiring, often heart-wrenching and woefully misunderstood journey for those who must traverse the road of grief. And though the scenery may change, or our perception of the scenery may change, the road is still the same - the road of grief. No stop signs, no yield signs and no final destination. Only the road. There are no traffic cops, so no one can, or should, attempt to direct another's journey. Only those undertaking the journey are qualified to determine their path. Grieve your own way, make allowances for those who mean well but miss the mark, accept help from those who truly offer help and remember that only you can walk this road. At your own pace, on your own path, on your own terms. God bless and give you peace.
Belinda, mother of Benjamin: First of all, unless you've been through what we have you can't understand, but here is what I'd say: There is no time limit with grief. When it first comes, it's a great big bag we carry on our backs, and over time the bag gets smaller and smaller but it never goes away. We just learn to live with it. Benjamin is always on my mind and in my heart until the day I see him again in eternity.
From Dan, father of John: I still struggle with the question about our children from people I meet for the first time. Most often, these occur in business settings and are not the time or place to get into the very heavy topic of the loss of a child. I still remember the first time someone asked a very innocent question, after John died, of how many children I have and how old they are. Not wanting to rip off the painful scab to the hole in my heart, I paused and then only mentioned our oldest daughter, Ashley. I have grown through my grief to now be able to answer that we have a boy and girl and that Ashley is 29 and John would have been 27. It has taken six years to get to this point, but each time I feel the pain and anxiety well up. Now, when I meet someone new, I avoid asking them questions about family and children so I can avoid having to answer them back.
From Diane, spouse of William: It still surprises me that even after this time, with most of the people I know thinking I should be over my grief, it still can sneak up on me. Grief is a journey. I will never be "over it," it is just a lifelong journey. But I know I get to go to an event in Colorado Springs in a few weeks, and I can reach out to our community for support.
From Kitty, mother of John: I am getting on with life with a tremendous hole in my heart. Have you lost a child? It's like you've lost a part of yourself. You can hardly think or breathe for that matter. I happened to have loved my son very much. Besides, it's not the natural order of life for a child to precede the parents. I'm not living in the past; I just haven't found my "new normal" yet without my son. It would help me if I knew that you were praying for my "new normal." Would you pray for me? Thanks.
From Diane, mother of Caleb: I'll never forget the first time someone said that to me - it had only been a year. I was speechless and so hurt. It is now four years since my son's death. I just tell people, "Four years is like four minutes and forever." My son will always be a part of my life. I will talk about him all the days of my life. I carry him with me everywhere I go, and he is part of everything I do. There is no "getting over it." I will never get over it. That's just the way it is. The amount of grief is in proportion to the amount of love (someone said that and I felt it was so true). I love my son with my whole life. So no, I won't ever be over it. Get on with life? Move on? I do - every day. I get out of bed. I put one foot in front of the other and move, one step at a time. Some days are better than others. That's just the way it is. It doesn't bother me anymore when people utter such useless clichés. This is the journey we are on. It is difficult every single day. It will all be better one day - the day I see Caleb again in heaven. Until then, I know I will miss him something terribly - all the days of my life.
From Karl, father of Tre: I have lost MANY so-called friends since my son's passing. I guess I have just accepted the ignorance of others. So it's all relevant. I've had people say to me, "Well, your son had no business in Afghanistan." Now, I just write it off as ignorance.
From Rebecca, mother of Griff: My reply would be honest: "My son is always going to be in my heart, in my life. There is no getting over my son Griff's future that would have been. I am always grieving and will never not be grieving. The emptiness and guilt will never go away. The longer Griff is in Heaven, the more I miss him - the more depressed I feel. My son is my purpose in life. There is no getting over his journey to Heaven. What you said to me is hurtful."
From Leslie, mother of Eugene: I would say, "I am sorry that you have lost your patience for my tragedy. The loss of a child is something you never get over. You have good and bad days while learning to live a new normal without them. If listening to me about my child is too much for you, then please take my number out of your phone."
From Merry, mother of Wesley: Amazingly, I have never had a remark made to me that offended me, however, I was extremely careful where I went and with whom I had contact. If I encounter a statement now that would let me know the person talking has no idea of the grief and loss journey, this is probably what I would do: There is a radio program that has a soundbite in its introduction of a woman saying, "Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?" I've often thought that if I encountered someone making an inappropriate comment, I would change the wording in a nice way to say, "Do you understand the words coming out of your mouth?" Hopefully, I would build a bridge and not make the situation worse, although I can sometimes react too soon.