Matt, This complicated grief is nothing like the grief people who have never experienced think it is. Most people, at least some of the people I’ve come in contact with still think grief has a time frame. Supposedly, normal grief is still thought of as something you glide through. Going from one stage to the next until you reach the finish line. After that so called specific acceptable time frame, the grief just disappears into thin air. Like magic, poof, it’s gone. Life then supposedly returns to normal.
Unlike the so called “normal” grief, complicated grief doesn’t seem to follow a time line. It doesn’t seem to care that it’s been years. It seems that time can continue to pass and complicated grief just clings tightly to your heart. Complicated grief is usually associated with the loss of a child. This grief is unbearably devastating.
What makes this grief so tough is that I find you have to constantly defend it. People will bring up how long it’s been. Oh yes, believe me I know how long its been. So does every other parent who has lived through the death of their child. What I don’t understand is why how long its been should have any impact on how long or how deep a parent continues to grieve.
The loss of a child goes against mother nature. Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children. The loss of a child shatters the foundation of what we have been taught to be normal in our world. The loss of a child rocks parents to their core. We begin to question everything we have learned throughout our lifetime. We question our faith. We wonder how a loving God could have allowed our child to die. I remember my daily prayers. Every morning and night I prayed to God for your safety. I prayed for you to have the strength to beat your addiction. I truly believed that if I let go and let God all would be ok. Imagine how I felt when I got that life shattering call that you were gone.
I felt totally betrayed by my God. I felt like I had done something so horrible that he was punishing me by allowing my greatest fear to come true. I felt abandoned and alone. I questioned every belief I’d ever known. Feeling that I’d not only lost you but also lost my trust in how the world should be. It’s taken years to rebuild my faith. To know that God did answer my prayers. He saved you not my way but his. To this day God and I have an agreement. We agree to disagree on answered prayers.
Through my grief I have found many blessings. At first I felt abandoned, alone. Many friends walked away and never looked back. Apparently my grief made them uncomfortable. Believing that I should get over it and get back to a so called “normal”. They wondered how they could be around someone who was so deeply grieving. Rather than helping me through they simply disappeared. The years of friendship meant nothing. Shared experiences all forgotten. Grief scaring them so deeply it was safer to abandon a friend than to stand by her side.
Isolation is a large part of how grief becomes complicated. I never believed what I’d heard. But since living it I know it’s true. People forget you are still here. Forget you are trying to navigate through your new life. Trying to figure out how to survive without your child. Mourning the hopes and dreams once so alive now gone in the blink of an eye. No more phone calls or visits, just complete abandonment by people who were once considered close friends. You wake up one day and it hits. Not only have you lost a huge piece of your life, but you’ve also lost any connection to life outside your grief.
I also live that famous verse, “If God closes one door, He opens another”. Through my grief I have found a new family. Other women who like me have suffered the ultimate loss. We share a bond and belong to a club we never wanted to join. Finding peace and strength through our loss. We lift each other on dark days. There is no need to defend our grief. No need to explain why those special days re-break our healing hearts. The gift of these friendships are priceless. Understanding that time does not heal all wounds. That healing has no dead line. That there is no shame in missing our children every day of our lives. We are a gift to one another.
Being honest with myself is tough. To realize that even after 3 years 2 months and 20 days I’m still shocked by your death. To think that the years have passed without you here continues to take my breath away. Simple things still cause deep pain. A can of Beefaroni or hearing a song by Guns and Roses can be overwhelming. There are days when seeing a father with his baby reminds me of things that will never be.
I’ve learned that grief is not a race to be run. It’s a process to be survived. A place to move through at our own pace. Grief is as individual as a fingerprint. My grief is mine alone. It is not something I should ever have to defend or be ashamed of. Grief is love that has been rerouted. It lives in every fiber of our being. Grief is how we love. Love never dies. It lasts forever.
So does Grief……………………………