“Why Can’t People Understand My Need to Grieve?”
My son died. He died suddenly, without warning. On that warm day in May, the lives of so many people changed when my son’s life on this earth ended. He was the strong one in the family. He was the oldest brother and the one that the others looked up to always. He’s gone and our hearts are broken and life will never be the same again!
It is now going on two years since Mike died. Life has gone on for most everyone except his immediate family. For us, the pain is real. The pain is cruel. The longing for Mike overshadows every day in a million different ways. Our lives changed permanently when Mike died, and yet………..
I’m finding it so hard to grieve openly without others pointing a finger and letting me know that I should be stronger than this.
“Stronger than what?,” I want to scream over and over again! “How strong should I be? You walk in these shoes a day and tell me how strong I should be!”
I don’t understand. I really don’t. I don’t ever remember myself criticizing another for mourning the loss of a child. In fact, I often wondered how they were able to function.
I think part of the problem with my open grieving is others are so used to me being the strong one, that they want to snatch away my right to grieve! They selfishly want me to be strong for them!
Some days I feel like wearing a banner across me that says, “Every mother has the right to grieve her child. Every mother needs to grieve the loss of her child because that is her last way of showing her love for her child.”
There is a place in my heart that feels like there is an open wound. It hurts. Some nights when I’m getting into bed I sit on the edge of the bed and let out several long, deep mournful sighs. Oh, how much it hurts deep within to know that my son died and is never coming back to this earth! I will feel that open wound inside of me until the very day I die. Why? Because I am a mother who nurtured this child inside of me before he was ever born. I held him close to me for months after he was born feeding him, rocking him and singing him lullabies. I wiped his nose and gently rubbed his back through many feverish nights. When his stomach was sick I sat up with him and talked him through the fear of throwing up.
I was there to calm him when he had nightmares. I was there to cheer him on when he was struggling and felt self-defeat. I washed his clothes and cooked thousands upon thousands of meals for him and did it because I loved him. I watched him grow into a fine, young man.
Then he died, and my heart broke. And, now people expect me to be strong and not show my grief.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not constantly sobbing. I don’t always have a tissue held to my nose. My eyes aren’t swollen shut every day from crying. I go to work every day. I enjoy family and friends. I love cooking and gardening.
But, I am also walking around with an open wound in my heart that painfully hurts day and night, and when I do cry or express my sorrow I expect to be respected and given the support I need to grieve in my own way.
What a shame that parents of child loss often feel like they must put on a happy face and mask their grief! How wrong it is to ask a parent who has had a child die to “Buckle up. Be strong. Put that behind you and move on!” I don’t expect people who have never felt this pain to fully understand. That’s an impossibility. But, I do expect to be given supportive freedom to grieve as my final way of expressing my love for my son. Grief is the longest good-bye a parent will ever say. If only others could understand how important this final good-bye is to a parent!
If you are a parent of child loss, I know that you understand what I’m saying. May we be bold in our grieving and never feel pressure to hide our final expression of love for our child!
*****If you connected in any way with these thoughts, you will also connect with the thoughts I’ve written in “Child Loss – The Heartbreak and the Hope.” I know the words in this book with bring new insights into the way your grieve the loss of your child.
****If you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness due to your grief, I know that “Hope 365: Daily Meditations for the Grieving Heart” will help you! Please give yourself these gifts of hope!
I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOUR GOING THROUGH ,AS MY SON DIED 9 YRS AGO TOMORROW and every year i go ga ga at this time oyear and i hate xmas?He was 33 at the time and had a 2 year old son.So i know what its like and doesn,t get better
You have wrote about what has been weighing heavily on my heart. I so understand everything you have written here!! I have wondered why we must be the ones to suffer in silence. it will be 2 years for us in May and very few people even mention the fact that we have lost a child or even ask us how we are doing. And it hurts!!!! We want our children to be remembered. They mattered and that doesn’t change just because they are not here anymore!!! Thank you for being a voice for us!!! Sending love from a broken hearted mother!!!
I totally relate. My oldest passed away in October of 2015. He was also my strong one. People amaze me at their inexpressible denial of my loss. As friends or family, I know they must care and not be completely heartless, but I don’t understand not expressing that to me. To us. It’s probably been one of the hardest things outside of his actual death, that we’ve dealt with. People are cruel. I will pray for y’all. Please pray for us too💔
Leah, I think this is something most of us struggle with on a daily basis. It’s so frustrating and hurtful because it shouldn’t be this way. We “need” our children to be remembered. That’s so important to us! If only others took just a few moments to try to understand it would help so much.
I’m so very sorry for your loss! I hope that you will continue talking about your child, as I know I will continue talking about Mike. I hope that by being a voice, people will begin to understand more fully this part of our grief. My love to you. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment!
Grief is the longest goodbye a parent will ever say.
Clara, this one sentence says it all, sadly it is 100% true, spot on. Thank you for your profound insight. Wishing you peace, comfort and strength to you and all parents of childloss, it is a life something we carry for the rest of our live.
Dawn, Thank you so very much. May blessings come to you, also, as we approach the most family-oriented holiday of the year without our child.
Oh my how I relate. We lost our oldest son in October of 2015 suddenly as well. Now that it’s been over a year,I am experiencing the same thing. Just tonight someone told me I should be happy because my son would want that. Told me to sponsor a needy child. Do something. It hurt me so bad. Grief has no time limit. Why can’t people understand this💔
Jennifer, I’m so very, very sorry. Others are often quick to tell us how they think we should act, and what all we should do. It’s a completely different thing, though, when walking in our shoes.
Many thoughts and prayers are with you. We are traveling the most difficult journey of grief known to mankind, and every day that we survive this thing called child loss we are a person of great courage. Just breathing is sometimes hard to do! Sending many warm thoughts your way. Again, I’m so sorry for the loss of your son and for the hurtful words carelessly spoken to you.
The thing that hurts me the most is feeling so alone in my grief. It has only been 4 months since my son passed. His sisters treat me like I should move on now!! He called me every day and I miss our talks so much!
You a remarkable woman …a true inspiration to us grieving Mothers .. you write exactly every emotion that we are going through and feel .. without you and a handful of people I would feel very alone in this horrific journey .. I have the utmost respect for your complete honesty .. bravery .. compassionate and utmost empathy .. you a truly a very special lady .. a one in a million x
Angela, We’re all in this together, and I think every single parent who is walking this path of child loss is brave! This is such a difficult heartbreak — the worst pain one can ever know.
Thank you so very much for your kind words. That means so much to me!
December 18, 2016 marked 1 year and 6 months from the day we found our baby girl, just 2 days after her 21st birthday. The first year was horrible but this second year is proving to be even more of a struggle for me. I try not to get angry when I am told to not let it consume me or that she wouldn’t want me to mourn her so much. How does anyone know what she would want? I think about my children every single day since they day they were born, why would it be any different because she is no longer here? That huge whole in a parents heart will never be filled or go away. And because I know there is no way anyone can truly understand that unless they walk the same path, I don’t get angry. It hurts but I don’t believe it’s on purpose and that they are trying to be encouraging, they just don’t know how truly painful and difficult it is to be on this path and get out of bed each day.
Missi, I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your daughter. The second year is most often a lot harder than the first year because everything seems more real now. In year one we are mostly struggling through that hazy fog of disbelief.
Your words are so kind and full of compassion. I don’t think others mean harm by their words. I simply think they don’t take the time to really think what it would be like without their child. I believe that even thinking casually about that is frightening to most.
Sending special love your way today. Again, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your daughter.
It has been eight years for me this coming April and I know exactly what you are saying..but I still grieve the loss of my daughter who was taken suddenly at the age of 27..she was fun loving,so thoughtful and loved children and I miss her more and more as time moves on..I go to work as well and spend time with friends and family..but some days still are hard and I don’t and never will smile to make someone else at ease. Thanks for sharing,,xoxo…
Elizabeth, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your daughter. I don’t think we will ever be finished grieving. How can we? Grief is an extension of the love we had for our child and our love never ends.
Thank you so much for your comments. Sending special thoughts of comfort your way.
It will be 29 years on Feb 25, 2017 since we lost our son and my heart hurts as much today as it did the day he passed at the age of 13. Everything you speak of in your blog I and many others have lived. I never thought your heart could actually hurt but mine did and still does. It’s a wound that never heals. Everyone grieves very differently and it is so hard for some people to understand that. It’s a path you truly have to walk to understand but at the same time you hope they never do.
Leona, I’m so very, very sorry. How much I can identify with you having the loss of a 13-year-old! My sister died when she was thirteen (a very tragic death) and I was just fifteen. My mom and dad grieved her death all of their lives. Our family was never, ever the same following her death. I will be writing a Memoir this winter on my sister’s life. She touched my life in a million different ways!
My love to you. Thank you for your beautiful comments.
You are the only one who describes the exact pain I’m feeling day in and day out. I joined this bereaved moms club on 8/13/15…never imagined this would be my life. You never associate death with our children. My husband and I have experienced the isolation my friends & family… feels as when Lil Eric passed all went away. My #forever20 Lil Eric (Eric Rafael) was my one & only son who is such an amazing guy…. (passed from car accident) Can’t even write those words without bursting into tears… Some kids are so loving, genuine & kind that it hurts when they have to leave so soon. He had a 10 month old son at the time who he adored. I miss my son sooo much! I have two earth daughters 18 & 15 who I fight daily but my hurt & fear is overwhelming most days. I’m still in shock or just don’t want to believe my son is never coming back… I read all your articles to help guide me through this “new” life and hope one day the hairs on my arm won’t hurt. Praying for all of us. These holidays are slowly killing me. God bless you, your family and all parents who lost a child. Xoxoxo
Lynette, Oh, how sorry I am for the loss of your Eric Rafael! He sounds like such an amazing young man who left this earth far, far too soon! The shock of losing a child often lingers with us for years. It’s too hard to believe our children are gone. It takes a long, long time to process the shock, the changes, and the pain that we feel deep, deep inside of us.
My thoughts and prayers are with you. Love, Clara
Thank you Clara
I struggle to put words to thoughts and feelings. Yours echo so many of my own thoughts.
2016 has marked 8 years for us that our son will forever be 21.
I have worn this mask for so long it feels sealed to my face and even when I feel the welling up of tears I yank the cover down so as to not reveal the depth of emotion. Also the fear of not recovering should I let it all out .
It would be a welcome relief to be able to be freed from the mask and unburdened from holding down the cover.
Clara, thank you so much for your thoughtful and oh-so-truthful words. My son was 28 when he was killed by a hit and run driver five years ago. I talk about him often in every day conversation because he is still relevant. Other than his siblings, no one else brings him up. No one tells me not to, but they act awkward when I do. And if I get tearful, then I should probably see a therapist. I’m now a very active transportation safety advocate and most people who know me think I’ve gone off the deep end. It’s carrying this way too far and I need to let it go (“let HIM go”) and move on. This is my way, my best friends are now other bereaved parents, and I’m good with life the way it is… other than the agonizing ache of being without Dustin.
I, too, an so very sorry, it has been alnost 12 years since our daughters death . I remember, our youngest at the time about 20, telling me i need to get on with it. Oh the hurt from that comment. Now, my hubby of almost 52 years has died unexpectedlt and said son is having problems.wonder whernhe will be in six months, i only rarely slightly cry, i need a couple,of big ones but they are not coming yet instead somewhat holding them in and having physical manifestations. Here is comfort for all of us, and much as we canhope for i am sending many hugs to all.
Clara, your words have been beyond helpful for me in my grief over these past three years. I too lost a child suddenly…Karly, my 19 yr old daughter, in August of 2013 from a brain aneurysm. When I thought I might be losing my mind, your courageous & honest words soothed my soul and allowed me to understand that I was not alone. Then suddenly Mike died. I was devasted for you! I could not believe that yet again you were thrown into the throngs of grief. But through it all you have continued to write. You have continued to let all of us willing to listen, into the saddest place of your heart. You courageously offer us truth & honesty as we journey this long & harrowing path. You, Clara Hinton, are a hero to so many who know this unimaginable grief of child loss! I pray for you & your family (& for all those who have lost a child) that you find peace in the memories of Christmases past & joy in the present Christmas! God bless you! #onedaycloser Daneen Barker
Daneen, I’m so very, very sorry to hear of the sudden loss of your daughter, Karly. We who are traveling this road of loss know how terribly difficult it is and that’s why it’s so important for us to stay together in places such as FB and on this blog so we can lend support to one another through the really rough days.
Blessings to you, Daneen. May peace and hope find their way into your heart. Love, Clara
Thank you for putting into words the way I have felt since my son died Sept. 2015. People have always seen me as a strong person. Little do they know how my grief weakens me. When I mention his name they become silent. I felt they aren’t aware of exactly how silent. I feel my best when I am giving or doing for others the way he would’ve loved me too. People will say I know the holidays are hard, but then I get scolded because I don’t go to events. They still don’t understand how hard some days are just to get out of bed. The phone calls or much needed time with others don’t come. I’m left alone because they think I’m strong in this area of grief. I am trying to be more aware to others I know who have had a child loss. To be there for them, I feel I can turn his loss into helping another then it helps my pain. Thank you so much for doing the same with your book and understanding.
It’s hard everyday I think of my daughter I cry alone because I feel some friends and family don’t understand how I feel 3 years and still feel the pain she wasn’t just my daughter but my best friend I so wish she had told me how sad she felt I so wish I could turn back time and go with my gut feeling something was not right with her never ever did I think she would take her own life and I still feel the guilt of that night I miss her so much and will never stop crying inside.always go with your gut feeling if you feel something is not right with your child make them talk to you don’t leave it to late thinking they are stronger then they are as it’s the strongest ones that carry a pain so deep
I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my son, Paul suddenly also. It has been 7 years and people still don’t get it but please try and understand it’s not done purposely. They just don’t understand our loss.
Just the other day a co-worker said ” you should be happy ..she is in a better place”
my daughter Tiffany just passed away 5 months ago, she is 28 & it was very sudden also. I just stared at her & said ” I don’t believe that, we would both be better if she was here & we were together. Tiff didn’t have a say in the matter.”
My co-worker didn’t know what to say. But I was so horrified.. she is a mother & has children, how could she say that to me. & not that that isn’t the truth, but you don’t say , you should be happy about your daughter leaving.