It seems like the last few weeks that my social media page has been inundated with memories of Aaron. It’s like I wake up every day with a new memory blindsiding my heart and my mind with emotional turmoil….And when I say blindsiding….I truly mean that it feels like an assault on my heart and mind. I was talking to a friend the other day and she mentioned that she had read something Lisa Tekeurst had talked about in a blog or in one of her writings. In this post or blog…whatever it was…Lisa spoke about putting a different frame on our pictures…changing the perspective with which that photo is remembered and perceived. That made me reflect about the perspective with which I frame not only my photos, but my thoughts and my memories.
From the outside, it’s easy for others to frame photos and memories that we share in what they see and observe. Generally, those on the outside can see the good…the happiness and joy in the memory. They can focus on the smiles that are seen, on the closeness of those in the picture, and on the love that is portrayed in the image. They can focus on the affirmative or constructive qualities of the photograph. The outsider can spotlight the blessings and can commemorate the feelings of a moment frozen in time…in essence, they can create a canvas of the deeper insights of the irrefutable truths that are seen from those captured in the snapshots. Their frame is one of optimism…one that portrays the happiness and joyful thoughts.
In the midst of child loss, from the inside looking out….it’s a whole different perspective. From the inside, the memories and portraits are framed in loss, sadness and despair. Why, you may ask, can’t you see the happiness and the smiles? It’s not that we can’t see those details, it’s just that our frame of perspective is overpowered in the loss we have and are experiencing. Grief isn’t something that you experience for a just few days…a few weeks… a few months…or even a few years. It’s something that you experience daily, and it assaults your mindset on a regular basis. I find it difficult to look at a picture of my son without deepened sorrow filling my soul. Even though I can see the happiness on our faces and the joy of the moment…my photo is framed in mourning, loss, and grief. Right now, I can’t change the frame…right now, I can’t change my perspective…right now, my frame is black and dark….like the frame that encompasses my heart. How long will my frame look this way? I don’t know. I want to be able to control this part of my grief, but I’ve learned that I can’t. I want my grief to follow a predictable path…one where I know what to expect and know when to expect it, even though I know that grief isn’t predictable at all. I don’t necessarily expect my grief to follow a timeline, but I have thought that it would somewhat get easier…which is not what I have experienced at all. What I have experienced is much different….the grief seems to be getting harder. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this 6-7 month time frame seems to be the time when others silently suggest that we mourners should be somewhat “getting over” our loss. It’s a time when you feel judged for speaking about your grief and the emotions you still feel. It’s a time when others aren’t sure what to say to you….when others no longer know how to relate to you…or when you no longer know how to relate to others. It’s a lonely time and a lonely path to travel. Or, maybe it’s just reality setting in. Maybe the “realness” of my situation is just now settling in my mind. Maybe my mind is just beginning to wrap itself around the fact that this nightmare is real. Maybe my heart is just now beginning to come to terms with the fact that I lost my child.
I can’t really place where I am in this journey. I can’t tell you that I’m in the denial stage…or the anger stage. Where I’m at now is completely unfamiliar territory. Despite this new terrain, my frame of perspective is still dark and full of hopelessness and despair. I try to find solace in my Savior, but I’m finding it hard to even find Him in this darkness. I search for the words to say to Him, and they seem displaced. I try to talk/pray to Him, but I can’t find the words to speak; I can’t find the emotions to speak; All I sense is emptiness deep down inside me. Forsaken is really what I feel…the loneliness is so deep that my heart and my being feel void, deflated, and depleted. I have never, in my life grappled with a desolation of this magnitude. I thought for a while that I had the resolution to will myself to move through my grief at my own speed and my own timeframe. It seems, though, that my grief has willed me to my knees, and that is where I currently find myself…on my knees. I don’t find myself literally on my knees, but emotionally, that’s where I am…on my knees, unable to lift the heaviness of my body and the weight of my mind. It is a daily battle to “will” yourself to be involved, to be in the world, or to simply be around others. I have to work every single day to make myself do things, to go places and it completely exhausts every part of my being. By the end of the day, I only have energy to come home and plop myself on the couch…and that’s where I stay until it’s time for bed.
I hope you understand how hard it is to share these deep, dark, and bleak feelings with you. But I feel that there is such a misperception of grief. I feel that it’s taboo to talk about our feelings even though we live in a society that has become more “transparent” than ever before. My question would be, “Are we really transparent, or do we have a fabricated sense of transparency?” One in which it’s ok to talk about all of the positive and wonderful feelings and events we experience and one in which it is frowned upon to share any emotions that are not of the positive nature. I know others grow weary of our suffering, but don’t you think we grow weary of our suffering too? Don’t you think for a minute, that if we could, we would take this suffering away? What about willing ourselves to think positively…that something good will come of it? Talk about the death of one of your children….do you think you could “will” yourself to be joyful, to feel happiness, to feel positive in the midst of the worst pain you could ever experience in your life? The sad thing is, you can never answer that question until you have, unfortunately lost a child…which I hope never happens to any of you reading this. This is a pain that I think no one deserves to suffer.
My point is…I want others to understand that grief is debilitating for those suffering its clutch on their family. I want others to understand that 6 months…1 year…2 years… isn’t enough time to be “over” our loss. It’s a loss that we will never be “over”. It is one that we will move through painfully, clumsily, and aimlessly. I want others to understand that some days, we are just sad…there’s no other way to say it…and it’s ok if you ask how we are, even if we cry. I want others to recognize that somedays, we are just angry…not at you, but at the world and the situation in which we find ourselves. We are angry that our child is gone…that we won’t ever experience the simple things like sharing a dinner together as an entire family. We are lonely in this journey, even though there are others who have or are walking our same journey. While we have a common bond, we all must journey through our grief alone. I want people to understand that there are many days that we aren’t ok…and we aren’t the most positive people on the planet…and you know what…that’s ok. Because we have suffered the unfathomable….we have suffered the unimaginable….and we are figuring out how to pick up the pieces of ourselves and our families.
We are trying to reframe our family with the loss we have experienced, while trying to hold onto the frame of existence we knew before. It is a mind numbing process…so please be patient with those who have suffered tragic loss. We often cannot see past our pain to smile a fake smile or to put on a fake sense of being. We are where are and that’s just it…meet us where we are if you can.