I posted this today on a grief page where I am a member. May it be a light on your healing journey.
In the past week or so I have read many posts here by bereaved parents who are 8, 12, 15 even 20+ years into their grief journey.
These quotes catch their general feelings:
"They said it will get better but it gets worse every year."
"I have nothing to "go on" for in my life."
"I still have a boulder on top of my heart and feel kind of numb or frozen."
"I can barely find a reason to still hang on."
This just squeezes my heart and makes me so sad. Our son died 23 years ago as a 8 year old. Leroy would now be 31.
The first years of my grief were a deep, painful journey, dark and lonely. It was a terrifying place of sheer survival. As the years have passed I have found deep, deep healing. I no longer walk in the dark. I am not afraid. I have joy and laughter. Yes, I miss him and yes I cry.
I faced the death of my son the same way I do any new experience: I read every book I can find on the topic. I found a couple a rummage sale in my home town. One of them, Don't Take My Grief Away by Doug Manning, became my grief manual.
This book is divided into 3 parts. Part one is funeral planning which we had long passed when I got the book but I was gratified to learn that some of the decisions we made instinctively were very healthy.
The second part encourages one to grieve as needed, in their own way and at their own pace, hence the title. Don't let anyone take your grief away. He says you need to give your self permission to grieve and not let anyone else dictate what that should look like.
The third part emphasizes giving yourself permission to heal. Just as we need to give ourselves permission to grieve, we need to give ourselves permission to heal. Unspoken and deep within us we have the belief that if we stop grieving we stop loving and we have forgotten. We consider it a betrayal of our child. That is so far from the truth. If we do not choose to live and choose to heal we are in essence saying that the death of our child is more important than our child's life. When we allow ourselves to heal there is nothing holding us back from treasuring every photograph and reliving every memory with joy. There is nothing that stops us from enjoying every place we ever went with our son. We celebrate a little brown eyed boy by eating his favorite foods with pleasure. We celebrate his birthday every year with cupcakes frosted blue and decorated with sprinkles and gummy fish. Some years family members have made them in four different states. We are sharing his life with the next generation who will grow up knowing Uncle Leroy from the stories we tell, his trunk full of belongings and pictures of him everywhere.
I want to leave you with two quotes I collected today:
"The last 20 years have been what "I" have called not kind. I have learned to go into my trials and pull out my joys and blessings."
Sandy Holombo-Olson 2014
"We can still choose to either die alongside them,
spiritually and emotionally, or to take this day and
soak up as many good things from it as we can muster."
Erica Farrimond 2014 TCF
Choose healing and wear red shoes for courage - Pat