Let’s face it, being left behind after someone you love dies, is not a pleasant experience. And when it is your own child, it truly SUCKS more than there are words for.
I once was in a bereavement support group after, RobynApril, my 28 year old beautiful daughter was crushed to death in her own front yard, and when asked how I was doing, replied truthfully with “It SUCKS.” The facilitator was taken aback and told me that such a response was vulgar. I still remember looking at him through glazed, tear filled eyes and asked, “And what is more vulgar than the death of my child?” What indeed?
The other day I was speaking to a mom in her mid 70s. Her son had been killed in line of duty 18 years ago as a Connecticut State Trooper. Her daughter was taken by cancer 4 years go. Apologizing for my possible offense to her, I told her that IT SUCKS. “No,” she retorted, “It sucks BIG TIME!” And we laughed together, understanding as only parents do who have lost a child, how BIG TIME, doesn’t even begin to cover it!
Those who have not experienced it, may want to be sympathetic and caring, but to really do so they have to imagine themselves standing at the casket of their own child, wearing cremation jewelry in a pendant around their necks, never seeing their own child again… and that imagination is too ugly to conjure up… and too frightening that it can become real. So many civilians, as we often think now of those who have been spared this unimaginable pain, drift away from we bereaved parents as if we are contagious. For many, our heartbreak is too painful for them to share. Others grow impatient waiting for us to return to our former lighthearted, happy, joy filled selves. What they don’t understand is how impossible it is to go back to who-we-used-to-be-before our child was ripped from our lives. We are different people now. EVERYTHING changed when our child took the last breath on earth. Many of our former friends grow bored with our need to talk about our child and keep their spirit with us in the sharing of memories and stories. So, not only do we lose our child, but we lose many people around us, who we always believed that we could count on, and painfully discovered that we couldn’t. And we grow even more lonely and feeling alone. And it Sucks. Big Time.
In the beginning, many of us don’t care if we survive. It doesn’t mean that we will purposely end our own lives; we don’t want to dishonor the memory of our child, but we don’t really care about living. We often become passive riders rather than active participants. The first year following the death is unbelievable pain, but there is still shock to numb and the care and comfort of some understanding friends and family. The second year, for many bereaved parents, is much worse than the first. Friends fade away, the protective fog wears off and the reality begins to set in. People often stop saying the name of our child, because they are very mistakenly afraid that if they do we will suddenly be reminded and cause pain. The pain is always present, even if we aren’t showing it. We are always remembering. The third year can hit with force that is shocking. Even if, as bereaved parents, we are becoming desensitized to the words DEATH, GONE, NOT COMING BACK, we still get hit with a Reality Check that can create agony. In the third year people really seem to need us to “be over it”, to have “moved on” to have stopped grieving. What “the civilian world” may not realize is not only are we considered NEWLY BEREAVED for the first full five years after our child’s death, but that we will always be our children’s parents for as long as we live, not just as long as they did.
I am told, though I don’t know because I haven’t gotten there yet, that the sharp pain of grief begins to soften more noticeably around the 5th year as we fall into the now-familiar rhythm of the empty space in our lives.
I am pretty sure that it will Still SUCK. Because my daughter will still be dead. Ask my friend who cremated her son 18 years ago. BIG TIME!
Being around others who “get it”, who not only don’t cringe when we speak our children’s names, but ask to hear the stories, want to meet them through our memories, is a ray of light in the darkness forced upon us. As time passes, we are forced to speak less and less about “the child gone too soon.” Yet we Never Forget. We Need To Remember.
The Compassionate Friends is the largest peer-to-peer bereavement support group for those who suffer the death of a child, grandchild, or sibling; gone from any cause, from any age - pre-birth to full maturity. There are 10 TCF Chapters located in Connecticut and over 660 in the United States with chapters in 30+ more countries internationally.
“The Compassionate Friends is about transforming the pain of grief into the elixir of hope. It takes people out of the isolation society imposes on the bereaved and lets them express their grief naturally. With the shedding of tears, healing comes. And the newly bereaved get to see people who have survived and are learning to live and love again.”
~Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends
Jim and I founded the TCF East Of The River CT Chapter in 2010, partly to help others who were experiencing the horrible pain we know all too well, but also to continue to help ourselves. Our “new family” and “new friends” are mostly those whom we have met through The Compassionate Friends Meetings and conferences.
On Sunday, July 15, we will join others in the 2nd Annual Statewide WALK TO REMEMBER®. Together, we will share a day of Community and Caring ~ a day of Remembrance ~ A Safe, Compassionate Gathering where we can shout out the names of our deceased loved ones, tell their stories and hold them not only in our own hearts, but share them with others! Throughout the month of July, TCF Chapters all over the United States will host their own walks, but Connecticut is the only state hosting a Statewide Walk to involve its entire 10 TCF Chapters, their families and friends. Not limited to The Compassionate Friends Members, Anyone and Everyone who knows the pain of the death of someone they love is welcome to come and WALK ALONG SIDE US for this FREE EVENT. (pre-registration is requested) The Walk Motto is WE NEED NOT WALK ALONE.
And we won't....
We will be Holding Hands and Hugging Hearts.
We will be sharing and listening to stories of those who have gone too soon.
We Will Remember With Love.
We Will Cry and We Will Laugh.
And we will Walk with Others who understand, Who “Get it”, Who Care.
And it will STILL SUCK.
But Not As Much.
Anyone interested in walking or finding more out about the event can click here to find information or can call the Walk Information Line 860-578-HUG2 (4842)
The TCF East Of The River CT Chapter meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Hilton Inn & Suites on Pleasant Valley Rd in Manchester. For more information, call Rivard-Darby at 860-375-EØTR (3087) or visit www.TCFEastOfTheRiverCT.org For information about the national organization and other chapter locations, call toll-free 877-969-0010 or visit TCF’s national web site at CompassionateFriends.org. The Compassionate Friends has a presence in at least 30 countries worldwide.