It can’t happen to me, right? But, it did….and here I am on a path that is lonely, cold, and filled with despair. If you had told me five years ago that I would have been traveling down this path of child loss, I would have never believed it. I couldn’t have, in my wildest dreams, even imagined what it would be like, feel like, or how it would change the very core of my being. I have read so much about grief and child loss, in particular, in order to try to understand the feelings I have experienced. Sometimes, it helps….sometimes it doesn’t. You see, I have an insatiable need to understand the intricate workings of the grief state of mind and the emotions that envelope me at times. I have read so many articles and blogs, not only out of need to understand, but out of the need to find some comfort and peace. Sometimes, I find temporary peace and comfort, but nothing that delivers me or brings me hope. I’ve read that it will get easier…that “time heals all wounds”…that “life does move on”. But to a parent that has lost a child, life never goes on as it was before. Yes, time continues to move and the world continues to spin, but life is never quite the same and neither is the parent.
I’m just going to be real and vulnerable at this point, sometimes life isn’t all that rosy and as positive as our society suggests that it should be….sometimes bad things happen and sometimes we just feel like we want to crawl into a hole. Our society has become so positive that it often comes off as fake…because no one really wants to know the true feelings of others. They just want to continue down that path that life is great….and wrap everything in a nice neat little box…complete with ribbons and bows so that none of the messiness shows. Sometimes, I get so tired of that fake positivity portrayed in our world. There is messiness in all of our lives and sometimes, it’s ok to let that show. We have become a society where we have inadvertently suggested that we should bury our true feelings for the sake of being positive. Maybe some of you are thinking…”Wow…how negative.” Maybe so, but don’t we sometimes need to deal with the negativity that is within all of us? Don’t we need to sometimes be able to truly express where we are and where life has taken us? With all that said…I do believe in positive thinking and I do believe that attitude is half the battle. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that people we see on a day to day basis are fighting battles we know nothing about. Some face depression, while others face addiction. Some face being homeless, while others wonder where they will lay their head at night. Some face broken family relationships, while others face financial ruin. Some face the sudden death of a loved one, while some watch a loved one suffer in their last moments of life. All around us, people are suffering. And all around us, I feel it’s been socially suggested that we don’t share our true and real feelings, because they will “bring others down”. I’m not saying that we focus on the negative parts of our life…but what I am saying is that we should be able to be freely to speak about the feelings we experience when we find ourselves in the middle of a battle…and that we should be able to find support in the midst of that battle.
The thing that helps me the most in this battle that I’m facing is to share my feelings…whether they are good or bad…positive or negative. The other thing that helps me more than anything is the person that has that willing lend an ear to sometimes just hear me cry, hear me describe how much pain I feel that day, or to just hear me talk about Aaron. I had a dear colleague the other day say, “Did Aaron like school?” And she let me talk about that for as long as I wanted….Then, she talked about sharing the blog about mashed potatoes with her grandson. That warmed my heart. First of all, she asked about my son and allowed me to talk about him…even if it might have brought me to tears. Second of all, she shared Aaron’s story with her own grandson. She was telling my son’s story to her grandson. What a gift that was! I also had a friend that told me the other day that she went into a store and saw so many things that made her think of Aaron and me. It does my heart well to know that people think about and talk about my son even though they didn’t know him. What a legacy he has left in this world.
The other day, I saw a quote posted by my cousin that read:
“It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant
So…sharing your story is sharing it all…the good and the bad….the happy and the sad….the question we have to ask ourselves is…Are we willing to listen not only the happy, but he sad stories as well? Everyone needs someone to listen to them, especially when they are going through a difficult time of life….they need someone to share their burden with. I sometimes think Aaron was the person sharing the burdens of many. I tried to help share his burdens, but I’m not sure how much I actually helped him in that area. I think he probably had some really great friends that helped him tremendously. I am working to find some peace in Aaron’s passing. As I said before, I’ve read everything I can get my hands to try to help me understand this life of child loss. I’m trying to focus on those good memories…the ones that make me smile…and some days I can do that. One of those memories is that Aaron loved shoes almost as much as he loved tie-dye. If it were possible, he would have had two closets full of shoes. I’m not sure why he had love for shoes, but he shared that love with my husband’s sister, Teresa. And they often had conversations about the newest athletic shoes coming out. Aaron’s absolute favorite pair of shoes, however, were Vans. I never understood his love for those until his memorial service. I purchased a pair of those to wear in his honor along with my tie-dye shirt. They were some of the most comfortable shoes I had ever worn….
That’s a happy story that I can share today with little to no tears. But if you had talked with me yesterday, you would have heard the story that Aug. 10th was the 6 month mark of Aaron’s passing and the grief over the last 3 days has been so overwhelming. I was in that dark hole…the one I didn’t want to come out of….the one that seems to pull me in so that all I can focus on is the loss. So, the moments of being able to focus on the good are mingled with moments of sadness and waves of grief that consume the grief stricken parent.
The one thing that I’m learning though…in all of this, is that the problem with where I have been looking to find peace and comfort is that nothing from this world can bring what I am looking for…and that is hope. In this type of loss, there is only one place to find hope and to find peace…and that is in Jesus. Since this devastating loss, my Savior has been there, but it’s been hard for me to feel Him there. Why, you say? I mean, wouldn’t this be the time that you would feel Him the most? The problem hasn’t been with Him…it has been with me. I, like everyone else, try to lean on myself often times instead of turning Him first. Why is it that our human nature leads us to seek our own resolution and answers instead of turning to Him first?…Maybe not even for resolution or understanding, but just to be held in the midst of the storm. I’m not sure why I do this, but I do. I’m trying to let go and let God…sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. But the one thing I can say is that He has been there waiting on me to reach out to Him so that He can love me and hold me during this tragic and traumatic time. I’m learning to let Him hold me, but it’s still hard to let go of the sadness, the anger, the loneliness, and the despair and to give control over to Him. That may sound absolutely crazy to most of you, but child loss does crazy things to you, to your mind, to your spirit, and to your physical body. It is all encompassing. No feelings slip by unnoticed anymore…all senses are heightened.
So, pray for me on this journey…that I first have the courage to share my experience so that it will encourage others to share their story. Also pray that I find healing in this traumatic loss…and that I can help others through the healing process….and that I learn to be thankful for the small things God grants me each day. Pray that I see the beauty in the sunset and the sunrise…in the hummingbirds that feed from my feeders…that I enjoy a conversation with my daughter even if she calls at a busy time. Pray that I truly learn how to lean on Him and that I learn what really matters in life….spending time with family, loving others, honoring the memory of my son, and that sharing Aaron’s story and our struggle will honor God.
God bless each of you in your daily struggles.