There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The passage of time has left me in a state of confusion. Almost instantly the world was chirping words of warning and pushing me to ignore my grief and skip over the tragic death of my daughter, Amy.
When I stumbled upon Mr. Bonhoeffer’s quote, I found a sense of validation that I am right where I belong on the other side of the devastating loss of my youngest child. The void Amy’s sudden passing has caused in my life is just as it should be and there is no need to rush through my grief in order to make others comfortable or as a means to stay present in my own life. Newsflash: This is my life and I am totally present. Grieving my daughter’s physical presence is a huge part of my life as well as continuing to love my family to the best of my ability. I value the ones in my life who accept us at face value. I am exhausted from the mask I have to wear in public to appease those who just don’t get it. I resent searching for words to respond to those who miss who I was and who have decided I no longer serve a purpose in their life. Maybe it’s time to drop the pretense.
The world I live in is impatient. Tick tick tick they say. Life is passing you by when you spend so much time grieving. Feel the love of those around you and don’t look at the loss. Try, try to have a good day. Be present. Love everyone. Forgive everyone. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and more blah.
Why is it so wrong to feel what you feel? Why do we have to spend so much energy and time convincing others that not all losses are the same. We spend our lives as children fearing losing some of our loved ones because time is a factor and eventually time will run out as old age sets in… But when time betrays us and steals our loved ones, there is an extra element of grief attached to the untimely loss. No one prepares you to lose a child and our world that we live in now does not know how to deal with death. Hurry, scurry back to live your life and don’t get stuck (oh how I detest that egotistical word “stuck”.) What qualifies anyone to deem anyone else “stuck” in their grief. How many times can I say not all losses are the same and hence not all grief is the same.
Every time I write about how the world around me has betrayed me, I find the need to write a disclaimer to sing the praises of the small group of people in my life who have supported my family with amazing patience, compassion and love. Not all of these lovely ones are grieving parents which makes their compassion even more amazing. No words will ever be sufficient to express our gratitude and I apologize that you do not get enough of my attention as the ones who have broken our hearts and compounded our pain.
“But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy.” Yes. I will always be grateful that Amy graced my life with a love unlike any I have ever or will ever know. Amy was a gift to my life and I feel blessed to always be her mother. Death cannot steal that role away from me. I will always be the mother of 3 amazing children and I will never ever say 2. There is so much gratitude for Amy’s life embedded into the all-encompassing pain of losing her. Just give me the time and space to deal with her physical loss, you clueless, self-centered egotistical world. Overall the world has not honored my loss or the value of Amy’s life. That realization has been difficult to swallow but I remain grateful for the small tribe who has emerged from the rubble and willingly been there every step of the way. I remain grateful to the members who have willingly joined my tribe along the way too.
This is my honest story of loss and in no way reflects the view of the world from anyone’s heart but my own. I willingly accept Mr. Bonhoeffer’s words as a reflection of my heart.
Always remembering Amy.