Since David died I have been asked many times “How do you do it?” Those who ask me even add “I do not think that I could do it” I usually do not attempt to answer the question and simply talk about something else. Sometimes they add “You are strong, I could not do it if it were me”. They give me the feeling that they love their children more than I love mine.
The first response that I have is “Do I have a choice?” I wish that there was a formula or a prescription that we could use to help us survive the day. I wish that there was some magic trick that we could use to remove the pain.
Every morning when I wake up I worry about how I am going to make it today. I ask the Lord to help me in my sorrow and despair. I read a lot of devotions and I get consoled and do feel better for a while, but grief continues to take hold of me and to hover over me on a daily basis.
Some days I am completely dysfunctional as sudden pangs of pain seize my mind. My very soul bleeds with sorrow and anguish. I just sit for hours, cry and wait for the day to be over. Some days I simply go back to bed to sleep my sorrow off. Whenever I am in bed I pray that I would see my son in a dream.
Some days I can only function after I have cried my heart out. After I cry I feel a bit sane. Some days I keep so busy in order not to grieve. Then I am fatigued. There are times when I can’t stand it any longer and then I run out of the house and try to go for a walk.
Sometimes when I feel like going crazy over the loss I just get in the car and drive to nowhere screaming, yelling and crying my heart out. Sometimes I go down to the basement and scream. I find that screaming does help me.
Sometimes I just get on the phone and call people in order to survive the day. I specially call a woman who lost her son 13 years ago in order to be reassured that the pain will subside and that I can make it someday. I need to be told over and over again that I will make it. Sometimes when I am about to bust someone calls me and that brings me back to my senses.
I go around the house searching for him. I feel the emptiness and wonder if this is for real. How awful it is to feel so lost and so empty. When I experience severe sorrow beyond control mixed with tears, anxiety, diarrhea, shaking and disgust, I go to bed early in order to get rid of these disturbing symptoms.
I try to think of the eternal instead of the mundane. I try to think that the separation is temporary and not permanent.
I often reflect on history and get some consolation. I realize that many have walked where I am walking. I think about all the children that died so young due to disasters and diseases and realize that their parents did survive and so will I.
I spend a lot of time analyzing, reasoning and philosophizing. I go to the Bible and try to find answers and comfort and I get encouraged. I listen to hymns and I cry.
People told me that I needed to see a therapist as I was told that I was depressed. I told them that I was not depressed but that I have a broken heart instead. I went to grief therapy for one year thinking that I would heal instantly. It did not work. I realized that healing is going to take time and that a therapist who did not lose a child knows less than I do about the pain. I realized that talking to anyone who would listen is very helpful.
I sit alone pondering about what could have been instead of what is. I have two reminders in the kitchen from David when he was quite young and which he wrote for me on wood, “God is love” and “Mom you are the best mother”. I read them daily repeating these words from David in order to survive. David loved me and God is love. Love does not perish. It is eternal.
Some days I just walk from room to room and look at his pictures and touch each one. I touch his colorful hat that I have placed in the kitchen. I then touch the walls that he painted. I water the plants that he left behind. I hug myself pretending that I am hugging him. I talk to him. I see him in everything. I listen to his music which makes me feel closer to him. I see his love everywhere. It follows me as I go from one thing to the next.
In the spring, summer and fall I tend to his garden. I think that a garden in the name of your child is very therapeutic. It allows you to dig in the dirt and to just get lost in the beauty of nature. I have a stone by David’s garden that reads “The flowers grow by the tears that fall”. Flowers seem to dissipate the gloom that is within my soul and bring a sudden joy through my downcast spirit. They put on a glow of many colors, all dressed in beauty and wonder. The air is all perfume from their scent. People walk by and admire the garden and when they read the stone, I get to talk about David to them. I have made a lot of friends this way. I even share my plants with them.
I attend grief meetings which have encouraged me and I have become an active member in them. I write articles for the monthly newsletters. I have made new friends.
I was blessed with a grandson who was born a month before my son David died. My daughter was faithful in connecting with me on a daily basis and in allowing me to get close to my grandson. He has been a healing balm for my soul. I thank God for his timely appearance on this earth and he has given me the courage to love again.
One thing which has been helpful is my imagination. I read somewhere that imagination is greater than knowledge. I recently heard the hymn “Safe in the arms of Jesus”. I literally imagine the Lord reaching out to receive David in His arms and to reassure him that he is safe and loved. I actually envision this scene and go back to it when I am in despair
I have a candle on the kitchen table and his photo among the rest of the family members. I light the candle on a daily basis and that seems to become a ritual that is soothing to my soul.
Do whatever you feel like doing. Talk to people. Go to the store. Let your mind wander. Sit in the sun. Look at the sky and reach for what you have lost. You will feel connected to your child as the sky will remind you of what is eternal. Smell the flowers. Hear the birds sing. Enjoy the calm of nature. Taste the freshness of the air. Savor the wonders of the moment. Invest in life. Cherish those who are left behind. Try to do something for someone else. Be good to yourself. You can go on despite the pain which will never go away. Having survived the worst so far, you will rise up again.