The first time it happened I was only fifteen. My sister, Carmella, died at the young age of thirteen. I went into a state of shock followed by deep, unrelenting grief. Back then people didn’t openly talk about grief so I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t know what I was feeling, much less what I was experiencing. My mother and father were struggling daily with their own grief. I didn’t know what to do, who to talk to, or when this terrible fear and heaviness would leave. That’s when I began the cycle of self-punishment.
I looked at my foot closely as I continued to rub coconut oil onto it in hopes of softening the skin surrounding the scar. That scar is now twenty-four years old and it still looks like it became a part of me yesterday. Normally, scar tissue isn’t something that I would look at, but this scar is different. This scar was given to me by my son Mike who died on May 22, 2015. I never, ever want this scar to go away because locked up in that puffy mess is a well-spring of memories that make my heart smile!
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.
Since my son Mike died, I’ve lost my car keys at least a hundred times! Slumping down and bursting into tears I decided to call it a day at 5:30 p.m. I was exhausted. I couldn’t think straight. I was frustrated because I lost my keys again only to find them sitting on a box in my garage. My life is messy because I seem to have lost the ability to organize even something as simple as what I should wear to work in the morning.
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…