In the ten years since my 18 year old son passed away, I have learned a lot of things that I wish I didn’t have to know.
1. The club no one wants to be a part of, Parents Who Have Lost Kids, has far more members than I would have thought. I meet people pretty regularly who have lost children- whether they are young or adult kids, or somewhere in between. I have met them right after it has happened, and years down the line. What they both have in common is that it always hurts.
2. Emotions always ebb and flow. There are times when it’s easier to talk about. There are times when talking about it hurts so much that you just wish people would go away. And sometimes you don’t even know how you’re going to feel about talking about it until you’re right in the middle of it. I have learned that since emotions are like the ocean- rising and falling like the tides, it’s important to be aware of where they are at all times.
3. Talking about it is so important. Everyone should have someone they can talk about the important stuff with. Everyone can’t handle hearing about our kids who passed away. It makes some people uncomfortable. That’s ok. It’s important to find your people who can handle it.
4. When someone’s child is going through something that mine didn’t get to, I compare. I’m sorry, but I do. Recently a friend’s son got married. I cried when I looked at the photos, because mine didn’t get to that point. I didn’t get to have a mother/son dance. And yes, I’m happy for you, but I’m also envious. I would give anything to have those moments. I have learned to love the little moments that aren’t even mine.
5. I have learned that I really just need to be a mom to a boy. I still have my daughter. But over the last few years, I have sort of become “mommish” towards some of the young’uns in my life. It just happens. I imagine it’s much the same as a mama dog whose puppies get taken too soon.
6. There are days when it’s hard to understand why the world hasn’t stopped with you. You look online at your friends, and they’re still out there having fun and living life. They are still having birthdays and smiling with their family. I think we all love that for them. But somehow it seems so strange to see people be so happy when you’re so sad. Life goes on.
7. People will forget. It isn’t that they are trying to be cruel. But when others’ lives go on, they don’t think about things that didn’t affect them the same way as they affected you.
8. The best thing you can do for yourself when you’re in the throws of your emotions is feel them. Then, get up and move. Do the things you’re supposed to do. If you stay in your bed for too long, you’ll sink deeper and deeper into your depression. You have to push through.
9. Ten years goes by so fast. You can’t take anything or anyone for granted. Tell your people you love them. Say what’s on your mind. Laugh. Cry. Feel your true emotions. In a few years you might just look back and wish you had said something, but you don’t have the chance now. It’s important, because you may never have a moment to make things right again. That next movie or meal or opportunity to tuck someone in may never come again.
10. Hugs help. You can really never go wrong with a hug, even when you don’t know the right thing to say.