I have experienced something every parent fears, I have lost a child. Today it has been eighteen years since that night I received the phone call, and my heart still aches. Early in my grief I attended a gathering of people belonging to The Compassionate Friends who shared her story. This is a world-wide organization that supports parent, grandparents, and siblings who have lost a child. Her child had died twenty years prior and all I could think was “I hope I will not still be grieving like this when it has been twenty years. I learned that those who continue for many years are guides to the newly bereaved. Sharing their personal story, they give others permission to share their pain.
I can tell you it gets easier, but you won’t believe me until it begins to get easier for you. You must first “Go through the Fire”. What that mean is you have to get through the terrible pain and suffering of losing your child, before you can smile about the time you had them with you. Reclaiming that balance in your life can take a while. It is important to be gentle with yourself and not set expectation or limits on yourself. Reclaiming the balance in your life is a journey you must take, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Those first few days, weeks and months I rarely left the house. I had emotional amnesia, meaning the pain was too intense for me to experience it, so my mind blocked it out. Little by little the memories came back and I was able to understand and begin to learn how to live with that pain. For a long time I suffered in silence because I did not want my other boys to see me cry. I though being strong meant holding it in and going about my life. I thought my friends were tired of my stores and tears. In reality, how could I be expected to go on as I did before…my son had died. I sent a message to the boys that they too had to suffer in silence. Rarely did we speak about Jeremy and how we felt inside.
During that time I wrote letters to Heaven on my computer. Sharing what was happening on earth and how hard it was living without him. In time I published those words into a book called November Mourning. When talking about him I would say “My life changed when he was came into my life…and my life was changed again when he went out of my life.
In these eighteen years I have learned about grief. That it cannot be ignored. That grief is the price of loving with all your heart. My love for Jeremy has given my grief wings and I am now able to share my story with others. I am able to guide them in understanding their emotional pain and how to begin to live a new normal. My beliefs tell me Jeremy is now in a different form. He is still with me, as are my parents, my sister, and my pets. I feel his presence at times, and our love of music brings songs to me as his way of saying “Hi Mom”.
As I write these words I am filled with the love he gave me, I am blessed to have had him as my son for sixteen years and I am grateful for the lessons he taught me and the privilege of being his mom.
“The reality is that you will
grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
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