Do we need permission to mourn our loved one? Has those around us convinced us that it is time to move on? I may not know the answers to most questions, but I know the answer to these two questions!
NO! NO! NO!
We lost someone we loved and whose physical presence helped to create who we are! Yet time and time again, others want to talk me out of my grief which I interpret as talking me out of the love I shared with Amy. That seems so disrespectful — as if others do not believe me when I say my youngest child’s death has shattered my life into a million unrecognizable pieces.
I remember about four months after Devastation Day, a former friend visited me around the holidays. Anyone who has dealt with the loss of a loved one knows the impact of the holidays — especially the very first one. As we sat across from each other at lunch, I confessed I had taken “something” to calm me down through our visit to which she responded “good.” To this day her response disturbs me and reminds me how very few people want to witness my authentic response to loss. Oddly, we ordered wine with our lunch and she never blinked an eye after my confession as I sat across from her and proceeded to sip from my wine glass. If I could rewrite history, I wished she would have said two things: first, that it was not necessary to medicate myself to prevent me from falling apart during our visit and two, questioning me whether it was a good idea to drink while taking anxiety meds. Clearly, she wanted the watered down version of me that day.
No one has the right to talk me out of my grief/love for Amy. No one knows the full impact of her physical absence in my life. No one ever has the right to decide when I should be over it. The reality of many people’s response to my deep honest and raw mourning of my child infuriates me. I encourage every griever I meet to share their honest truth. Grief is not pretty and if you have to dilute your grief as a means to make a family member or friend “comfortable” … well, I have learned the hard way that it requires too much energy to play that game.
As time goes by, I find it exceedingly difficult to communicate with people. Hey I get that most people do not know what to do with honest grief. I have exceeded the time limit for sympathy which is not what I need anyway. I just need acceptance that its okay that my heart still hurts and for people to believe me that my response to Amy’s death is realistic. When others inquire how I am, it seems to me that they want me to say what they want to hear. Many stop asking. Very few are prepared or willing to hear the truth so rather than make them uncomfortable, I retreat more and more. I have no expectations of anyone now. I am lonely but its easier than being misunderstood. When my husband and I meet up with other grievers, I find I am able to smile and laugh freely because I do not have to pretend. Maybe pretending is what makes me so uptight and sad. There is something so powerful when I don’t have to convince someone that Amy’s death has had a profound effect on my life. They know; they live it.
I would be remiss if I did not admit I still have a handful of non-grieving friends and loved ones in my life who bring out the best in what’s left of me by accepting the broken version of me. It is easy to interact with them. There is something so deeply moving about who they are and how much their acceptance has comforted me. Their willingness to take a chance on this new version of me restores my faith in humanity. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it. It is such a gift to be loved unconditionally. No one knows this better than someone who has been cast aside and misunderstood. I can honestly say I was unfamiliar with being an outcast prior to Amy’s sudden passing. There is a huge deficit in me created by existing without all of my children here and yes, I continue to feel like a misfit.
Memorial Day weekend is coming. The start of summer. Summer. When the world as I knew it chewed me up and spit me out on the day Amy died. I am making a conscious effort this summer to not go down memory lane. Is that even possible? Many clueless ones would exuberantly be nodding their heads yes! Finally, they think. However, its just not that easy. No one knows the magnitude of Devastation Day unless they have been in my shoes. Blessed are the ignorant. Oh how I wish I was in your shoes.
Please tell your story of love and loss and continued love… You do not need anyone’s permission to grieve your loved one. This is your life story and life is not always easy and tidy. It can all change in a blink of an eye. Immunity denied for so many of us. Unanswered prayers will always hurt. Life goes on despite that our loved one has moved on ahead of us. Love never ever dies and sometimes yesterday was the better place. However, there is a semblance of peace when we are able to notice that our loved one is still with us and knows our heart. Although many do not believe that, blessed is the mourner who feels the flow of continuing love on both sides of the very thin veil. Blessed is the mourner who is able to share their authentic truth of love and loss and continued love.
Always remembering and loving Amy.