A New Slate

It may be one of the hardest things to explain or help those who knew you to understand. Where the old you went. We know, but usually do not have the words to get that story across. We knew we were changed, forever changed, the moment our tragedy hit us. Those around us think it is a temporary thing. They believe that the us they knew will step forward with time. When we finally tell them that we are not who we once were, they do not comprehend nor believe. They think that we are staying too long in our grief and not letting ourselves come back. A few will walk away from us in anger because we do not act or live the way they want us to. Others step back in fear, fear that somehow our loss is catching and if they put a wall between us, it will not happen to them. Not only is it hard for us to explain, it is probable that they will never understand until they walk this road. We quit trying and yes, they blame us for that too. It is a no win situation. What happens to us when these things occur is almost as tragic as the loss itself. Almost.

At that instant of loss, we are wiped clean. Our hearts and souls are raw and bleeding, Our emotions are not our own but controlled by the beast called grief. We react on emotion not thought. We cannot think, it is beyond our ability. Words leave our mouth without us being completely aware of what we say or how it sounds. Peoples expressions will say more than their words for we cannot really comprehend their words. Their body language becomes part of our new reality. There is not one single thing left around us that has meaning. Suddenly, we have to learn how to breath again, love again, trust again. It does not happen in a day, a week, a month, a year. It happens when it happens and we have no control over it. We are longer captains of our life, but tossed around by an unknown puppet master with a sick sense of humor. We want to be who we once were. We want that life back so bad, we scream at the universe to return it to us or to please, please, just let us die too.

In the early days, and that could be the first year, many things happen. We have not only lost our loved one, we have lost everything. One day, we will start to rebuild, but it will not happen right away and it will not be the city we once knew. This profound grief does not happen to everyone who loses a loved one for all grief is different. But ninety nine percent of us who have lost a child will find that this grief, for us, is like no other we have ever felt and hope we never feel again. We cannot express this grief to others without it sounding like we are down playing their pain. For me and many others, child loss will be the greatest most single tragedy we will ever experience. For those who have not lost a child, their loss is just as great, yet different. Hard to explain that one and really, it can't be explained, only experienced. Grief has many faces, many layers, many levels. So I only know that the loss of my son is greater in my life. I have lost many to know that difference.

I think the larger sadness, with the exception of losing my son, is to discover that love for others can be crushed, it can be destroyed. As I said before, when we begin this walk, we are a clean slate. Maybe I should say, it is a new slate for the old one was broken beyond repair. We still have the ability to love but it has been bound within our souls waiting for others to write upon it's empty spaces. What they write will make or break what we feel for them. That is how raw we have become. How we view the world will depend on how the world treats us when we are at our most broken. The arms that reach to hold us will be in our hearts forever, the foot that kicks us will lose us. We cannot handle unkindness at a time when we have been destroyed by our loss. Time will bring us a short step from that shattering. When it does, our slate will already have been written on by the hands and actions of others. I wish some could have thought first before they wrote their roles.

It is a time when we will make new friends, for they did not know us before so have nothing to compare us to. They accept us for who we are now. We find ones who are like us, who have lost so deeply, who understands us. We let go of a lot of the 'before' because it holds tight to the old us who no longer exists. We cannot make the old us come back, but carry the burden of that loss from those who want us back. It is sad and tragic and our load is already almost too heavy to bear. We will learn to live with this just as we are learning to live without those we love, one day at a time. From a 'Forever Mom.' 

About the Author

 My son, Tim, passed on January 5th 2014 at the age of 34. He chose to end his life. So many things happened to bring him to that point. Believe it or not, I understand why. No matter how our child died, that is the keyword 'our child.' I wish you all gentle days and nights as you walk your path. Barbara, 'Forever Mom.'

I'm Grieving, Now What?