Just like any other morning since Aug. 4, 2013, I woke up and immediately thought about Amy. Reality check no. 1 sinks in as I painfully remember why Amy is my first and last thought of each and every day.
It’s snowing today. Snow storms make me think of Amy … Even as a young adult, unexpected days off gave her such joy! She would retreat into her room with a good book in between helping her father shovel the snow, a task she took on as she worried that something could happen to him while he was shoveling. Amy always worried about others. Always! Reality check no 2 — Amy will never help my husband to shovel the snow again and snow days will never be the same without Amy.
While losing my sweet daughter has shattered a large part of my life, I find myself hoping that life has joys awaiting my family on the other side of this painful tragedy. If you ask me, and yes I will say this out loud and own it, we deserve joys just as much as any one else living and breathing in this world. Actually, if you ask me — I would admit that we need joy!
Reality check no 3: life just doesn’t work that way because bad stuff can still happen. Even to those of us who have already suffered great tragedies. Losing Amy was bad! And Horrific! Unfair! Wrong! And if life is truly made up of 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows, then the sorrows are winning by a landslide since August 2013. Now, anyway. However, we definitely did not use up all of our 10,000 joys?!? Right? I can only hope.
Recently I have noticed before people share any good news with me that they hesitate for a moment. My initial reaction to that hesitation is irritation! Yes, irritation. The pause is interpreted by me this way: your life sucks but I have good news so I am not sure I should share it because it might make you feel worse. Reality check no. 4 is that your good news does not change what happened to Amy! Nor does it affect my life much! Do you seriously think I am that shallow that I wouldn’t want to hear something good? Oh … the misunderstood world of grievers!
Somewhere recently I read how a therapist treating a woman with debilitating grief advised her to find a safe, quiet spot to sit and grieve! You know how all of a sudden everyone is “checking in”, well her advice was to “check out” for awhile and allow the grief to flow. Retreat from the quick fix, fast lane world which only compounds your grief as you continue to struggle in a dazed and very confused state of mind. Reality check no. 5: Our feel good world is not designed for grievers and it’s no wonder why there are so many wounded grievers drowning in sorrows as they attempt to fit back into a world which is no longer recognizable without their loved one.
My husband and I attended a 13 week religious based grief class. One of the sessions suggested that if we were grieving heavily that would mean that we had put our loved one ahead of God?!? My reaction to that insinuation or food for thought was anger! Who wrote this session and who did you lose? As I always remind my family and friends, last time I checked I was not in the bible nor was my daughter granted a miracle in her final hour. We are ordinary people and it’s so easy for anyone sitting in their peaceful world surrounded by all of their children to dream up that theory. The bible with all it’s miracles has not given me comfort, not yet anyway.
In spite of my heavy grief, I laughed out loud at the YouTube video I posted last week. It was comical yet rang so true to me that someone would think throwing a sandwich at you or drawing a silver lining while spouting the typical cliches could help. Yet I do understand that most of us just don’t know what to do to help. I get that! I am the first to admit that I didn’t know what to do either! However, now I def know what does or does not help me.
I realize how some people are not wired to travel this lonely path with me and my family. Sad, but true. Some will check in occasionally, by peaking in to assess if I am better … as if it would be possible to pick up where we left off before August 4. They have left the heavy stuff for others to deal with in the meantime as they stay in their safe haven until they get the all clear!
Unfortunately, even in my grief fog, I notice your absence and while I can understand, the result is the same that it alters our relationship. It just does. But it’s okay because I can adjust to your absence a heck of a lot easier than not having my daughter, Amy, with me. Will I welcome you back with open arms if the day comes that I have moved farther along and not as lost and broken? Well, again, I am just an ordinary woman and my reactions are that of an ordinary woman. I am sure my attitude may seem rough to some, but after meeting others who have lost a child, I have learned that we all carry similar wounds as a result of the people we lose on the other side of our own horrific loss. It appears to be inevitable.
So for those who really do want to help a family in those early weeks, but don’t know what to do… Instead of sending an overpriced fruit basket, how about if your location permits, hand deliver a few pieces of fruit to your friend or loved one’s house and sit with them maybe just long enough while they eat that orange? I remember how one couple (thanks again, C&A) invited us to their home for dinner in the early days and how it helped to get out of the house for a short while. Recently, I started reading the cards, books and letters which were sent to me in those early weeks and believe me when I say it was/is much appreciated!
I also remember when groups of friends brought food and sat and ate with us because who knew going to the grocery store or trying to prepare a meal could take so much energy and be such a painful experience. In over 6 months, I have probably prepared 5 different meals over and over again.
Going to the grocery store is still excruciating for me. All of the background music seems to be coming straight from Amy’s iPod. Her favorite foods come to life and insist on grabbing my attention and scream the reality at me as I quietly weep as I pass each one of those foods in their designated aisles. Sometimes, I courageously glance at them in acknowledgement of what has happened; almost like I am saying goodbye.
When I post these blogs I may be repeating myself. I seem to do a lot of that lately as I continue to have a one track mind. If I would re-read my posts I would know what I wrote, yet I am unable to go back because living any day once is enough! Maybe some day I will be able to revisit my pain of these early months.
In a recent conversation in which I shared some of the things that people have been saying to me, one of my friends, with tears in her eyes, told me that in case no one else had mentioned it, that she wanted me to know that I was still “Dee” and someone she enjoys having as a friend and proceeded to list all of the reasons why she still enjoyed our friendship. She acknowledged the inevitable changes in me while validating my efforts to get up each day, get dressed and try with a heavy heart to be part of the world, also realizing that my natural inclination would be to hide. It was comforting for someone to not proclaim who I no longer am, but acknowledging me and how hard I am trying … And that the current me still works for her — even with my heavy heart, invisible wounds and sad eyes. (Thank you, CF! xo). That gave me hope.
It’s a jungle out there and definitely not a world that is designed for anyone who is grieving, but I keep trying to jump on board when I can as I realize life is not going to slow down or adjust to my sorrow.
Hope … Something to aspire to.
Remember my beautiful daughter, Amy, with her amazing hazel eyes.