Grief follows no plan, no stages, timetable, formula, or schedule. There are no road maps; there are no absolutes. We know that everyone grieves differently. Grief is like being lost. The familiar things we relied on to live each day are gone. We must find new anchors or stabilizers along the way and learn a new way of relating to the world and people around us. We are forced to learn to live without our child.
Grief is all consuming, distorts reality, and we begin to mark time in “before or after our child died.” No one can hurry the process of grief; no one can do it for us. Not even our spouses, parents or other children can help us in those early days. The truth is that when our grief is new, we feel exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually. We barely have enough energy to breathe. We feel as though we have no control over our lives any more, nor do we care.
We realize on some level we are helpless. We might even feel hopeless or purposeless. Some of us feel isolated, lonely and misunderstood. Some feel like everything is trivia compared to the loss we have experienced.
We feel like the world is spinning on around us, and nobody really cares that our child died. All of these feelings are normal and part of the grieving process. And yes, we also need to realize it is a process-a very long, gradual and difficult process. Time does not heal all wounds, but time softens the intensity of the grief. What helps is finding those who will listen with their hearts and give us hope and understanding.
Our relationships with family, friends and yes, even God can be strengthened or challenged as we look for new ways to connect with them. We may lose old friends who don’t really understand. We learn that problems in life are not overwhelming. We are handling the worst thing that can happen to us; what else can happen? We learn to more deeply cherish those we love. We help others in grief without batting an eye.
Sometimes we pick up “gifts” along the way by becoming more caring, compassionate toward others, and appreciative for what is important in life. New strengths can develop as we find our new selves along the way. Life will be different as we learn to cope, but still have meaning.
For those of you who are new in your loss, I hope that you will continue to share your sorrow with us and learn from those further ahead on the path of grief. Someday it won’t hurt as much as it does, and you won’t always feel “this elephant on your chest.”
I will be with you and hold your hand every step of the way... Just let me know, touch base with me...