We’ve all heard the expression that a person turned gray overnight. Well, I didn’t turn gray overnight when my son died, but I turned into a different person — a person I don’t always like. Yes, my physical appearance has changed. When I look into the mirror the twinkle in my eyes isn’t there. My hair doesn’t shine any more. My skin has a strange color — dull, and has lost elasticity. In a word, I aged overnight. That’s what a broken heart will do!
Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. I’m cleaning files at my office, and tossing out files from fifteen years ago. It was getting late, and I was grabbing one more pile of papers to toss into the garbage, when I stopped — frozen. I looked. I stared. As I began to read the words my tears began. Tears poured from my eyes. I began to choke on my sobs.
There it was. My son’s obituary from a year ago.
When child loss occurs, there is often chaos within the family unit. Nobody knows what to do or say. Everybody knows that each person is suffering. But, no words are spoken. Why? How do you even begin to communicate within a family when everybody is in shock and grief? This radical miscommunication often leads to the breakdown of a family and that’s just what we want to guard against.
“As we know, the death of a child doesn’t just affect the heart of a mother.” — This is a direct quote from the book Child Loss; The Heartbreak and the Hope.
If you’ve lost a child, there has come a moment when you’ve cried out in despair, “I can’t do this! I can’t do this thing called child loss. I want my child back. I want life to go back to how it was when everything seemed okay.”
In chapter 4 of the book Child Loss – The Heartbreak and the Hope this feeling of despair is discussed in great detail. This is when the numb part of our loss begins to wear off and we begin feeling the raw pain of brokenness. This is when we want to scream out saying, “This can’t be true! This didn’t happen to my child. This is all a very bad dream!”
If you’re like me, one of the most difficult things for me to hear is how quickly life has gone on for others following the loss of my son. I want to know others are feeling some of my loss. I need to know that others still remember my son. I want so desperately to know that others still think of him.
And, yet the fact is that life has gone on very quickly for most.
Following the loss of a child, we become familiar with the term “new normal.” We read it in books, and we hear the term in grief classes we attend, from our Pastor, and many times we hear the words “new normal” from our doctor. When I became a bereaved mom, the words “new normal” were words I held onto tightly. Why? Because any kind of normal following the loss of a child would feel good! When child loss take place, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — that feels normal anymore!
Every bereaved parent has a burning question that needs to be answered. That question is, “When does healing take place after child loss?.” The pain following the loss of a child is so intense, so all-consuming, so life changing, that we are constantly searching for the answer to healing. It is human instinct to do everything possible as quickly as possible to get rid of pain. We long to feel healthy and whole. We long to be able to be joyful in our living. We want nothing more than to be able to smile and enjoy life to its fullest.