Monday, April 20, 2020

In Grief: Dreading The Second Anniversary of A Child’s Death

When fear makes your choices for you, no security measures on earth will keep the things you dread from finding you. But if you can avoid avoidance - if you can choose to embrace experiences out of passion, enthusiasm, and a readiness to feel whatever arises - then nothing, nothing in all this dangerous world, can keep you from being safe.  ~ Martha Beck

A reader writes: I've written to you before, but now the countdown has begun.  In two more weeks it will have been two years since my son lost his life in a horrible accident. I have been waking in these early hours with nightmares -- my son is all broken and I cannot fix him -- my throat is dry from screaming and the sweat is cold -- I am not sure I can keep doing this anymore. I have so many crazy thoughts of jumping on a train track and seeing how long it takes for me to die.

My response: Oh my dear one, of course there are no words that anyone can offer that will take away your pain, save to say that I am so very, very sorry and I am here for you, aching with you, crying with you, screaming at the heavens with you, offering comfort, and holding you with gentle and caring thoughts.

I know that the second anniversary of your son’s tragic death is fast approaching. Having been through this last year at this time, I’m sure you already know that as this day draws near, it is only natural for you to be especially preoccupied with thoughts and memories and details of this horrible event. This anniversary date is an enormous trigger which only intensifies the acute and chronic pain you’ve been experiencing all along. I pray that you won’t take this to mean that you are losing ground, because the progress you have made is real. I pray that all of us who grieve beside you will remember that, although we cannot choose what life has to offer, we can choose how to respond. The attitudes we bring to life’s circumstances are always, always within our control. We can choose to give up and give in, or we can choose to take charge of our lives and keep moving forward.

I hope that as you think of your precious son, you will think of happy as well as sad memories, and hold onto the happy ones. The happiness you experienced with your son belongs to you forever. I also hope that as this second year draws to a close, you will plan some sort of a memorial ritual, no matter how private or how small. You can draw on those familiar, comforting ceremonies and activities unique to your religion, culture, traditions, family or way of life. You might use this ritual as your rite of passage through grieving to healing, to mark a shift in the way you mourn, or as an official end to this second year of mourning. However you decide to spend it, I hope you will build comfort and meaning into this special day, and immerse yourself in the healing power of remembrance.
Now that I am gone,
remember me with smiles and laughter.
And if you need to cry,
cry with your brother or sister who walks in grief beside you.
And when you need me,
put your arms around anyone
and give to them what you need to give to me.
There are so many who need so much.
I want to leave you something --
something much better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I've known
or helped in some special way.
Let me live in your heart
as well as in your mind.
You can love me most
by letting your love reach out to our loved ones,
by embracing them and living in their love.
Love does not die, people do.
So, when all that's left of me is love,
give me away as best you can. 
~ Author unknown
Please know that I care and I am thinking of you, especially on this anniversary day ~ and please continue to let me know how you are doing. I am wishing for you comfort and peace, and healing to your broken heart. 

Afterword: I'm writing once again to tell you that today my son's mates held a memorial for him -- attended by about 182 people from all walks of life. The topics of speeches ranged from his awesome ability to make people smile, to his ability to turn the tables on something bad. I guess I never realised how much of an impact he had on people, for one so young he certainly brightened an awful lot of lives. I haven't lost a son -- I have gained a network of appreciation for a life cut short. I haven't lost a son -- I have learnt he lives on in so many others.
I haven't lost a son -- I have gained numerous friends. I haven't lost a son -- I have gained an insight into how the world was turned by a cherub.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below. If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here


No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome!