One of the many things I find within myself is the need for validation. The need to have my son's life mean something, the life I had with him to have purpose. There are days, when the anger rules, that I pace and ask myself what was the purpose of giving him life when he would be gone again so soon? Why love so completely and have it ripped from me? The questions become a caged animal seeking release, searching for a break in the enclosure that we call grief. We run around the inside of that small space, our steps becoming faster, frenzied as we try to understand where we now live. The silent screams of a tortured mind mix with the audible roars of a wounded and desperate tiger. We search continually for a way out from the moment of waking to the exhausted sleep we so need.

Shortly after Tim died, many of his friends and distant family came to me with stories about Tim. You would expect the usual such as 'We were best friends, he was always there for me,' or 'Great guy.' Minor things, but normal things. Mild validation for a lifetime, short though it was. Those are the things people give you after your loved one passes. They share their good memories, precious moments that you did not know about but are grateful for every small crumb you can find. They remind you that the person gone had a place in their lives, not just yours. A different place, but still a validation of who they were. Tim's friends gave me more then that. They showed me the reason for his life. On those days I pace and rage, I make myself remember what they told me. They said he had a knack for knowing when someone he knew or cared about was in trouble. Out of the blue he would be there to help them through. The stories are longer and more detailed but that is what it boiled down to. He was there for those in desperate need in seriously troubled times.

It is going on eleven months now and oh yes, the hurt stays, different but still strong. Recently, my nephew wrote a small piece of memory on his facebook wall. It included three who have left us, Tim being one of them, my nephew's mother and Nana the other two. He was watching an older home video of us all together and mentioned how strange, now, to see those three in the same room together. He will never know how much it mean't to me that he said Tim's name, shared that moment. That is validation. When Tim first passed, so many said his name, shared their memories and then suddenly, they were gone. They didn't mention him again. We stop saying their name in front of others for we feel their discomfort and it takes away from our loved one. We don't need them mentioned every day, but now and then to show us they still care even as they move on with their lives. That the life of our loved one mattered to more than just us.

We come to understand, in time, that not everyone is at the same level we are. He is my son, I cannot expect others to grieve as a mother does. But at the start, my mind was not rational and my emotions did not care. I resented those who just walked away as though they had dispensed of their 'duty' and moved on. I did not need them to be there every second, I did not need them to constantly talk about Tim. I needed them to care. I also needed to stop and look around, see those who stayed, who showed they cared, who were silent but giving of their time and hearts. To move beyond those who could not handle being around our grief to those who were willing to shoulder it. Those who are like Tim who give of themselves without wanting anything in return. They validate him.

Some emotions have slowly sorted themselves out as time moves away from that day. Some still war with each other. It's hard to understand how two totally opposing emotions can happen at the same time but I am coming to realize that this is a part of me now. I don't do things so Tim would be proud of me, or imagine what Tim would want me to do. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it is just not what I do. I have to validate me and can only do that through myself. I don't search for good works, build memorials, do school talks. I follow my heart and inner voice. Most of the time, that voice says 'write', write until you are empty and went you fill up again, write some more. Many times I have decided to stop writing and find I do not want to. In writing, I ease my heart a little and I validate not only Tim, but myself and those who love me, those who need me. In my loneliness, I am not alone.

I have come to a place now where the 1 year is close and I am so dreading it. My boy, gone for a year? Then I think of those who have been gone so much longer, the ones left behind missing theirs just as much as I miss Tim. We learn to appreciate those still in our lives, it just takes time to bring that back to us. We learn to forgive those who walked away and turned their backs on us. We learn to forgive them, but know they no longer have a place in our lives, we have moved on now, we are different. Hard as this road is, I have things to do yet before my time comes. What that is, I have no idea. But somehow, validation is a part of that.

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?