How do we get back on our knees and learn to crawl again after having been crushed by the terror of our child’s death?
What can we do to learn how to live again, which is exactly what we try to do? We’ve begun a new life, a new normal, where we look different, we act different, and we communicate differently than we did in our past life.
Most bereaved parents will tell you we now live in terms of before and after our child died. All events are measured in terms of the instant they passed away. When a neighbor tells us they went on vacation last year, we think, my child would still have been alive for another six months. Or, we figure exactly how many days, weeks, months, or years they would have already been gone. It’s an automatic calculation.
The single most powerful factor in starting my new normal has been the realization that death did not take all of my child. My son's death did not take all of his life. His spirit and life lives on through my memories. Everything I had with my son when he was alive still lives in me. Every hug, every kiss, every laugh, and every tear will always be a part of my life. I certainly wish there had been many more memories to be made, but that decision was not mine to make.
In the beginning, the memories I had were mostly about what I lost. I thought my son was gone forever and I would experience his life again only when I died and we were reunited. Now, most of my memories are more about what I had, and still have, with him. All the times are special and treasured moments that I hold closely and am very grateful for.
My realization about my son's life was not something I consciously decided to feel. I didn’t go to the healing store and buy it off the shelf. Through my grief work, and leaving myself open to all possibilities of healing, I was able to bring my son's life back into mine.
I don’t think we have all that much control over our grief. It just kind of drags us along. What we can control is how we do our grief work and hopes towards our healing.
We must never stop fighting for our child. Their lives are out there waiting for us to bring them back into ours. This is a rough, rough journey, but if we travel it side by side, hand in hand with our child's lives, it can make our path a bit easier.
My Son: Gregory E. Whale, Jr --- 9-2-1991 - 4-26-2010
My Niece: Sarah Elizabeth Armor --- 7-24-1991 - 7-10-2014