Thursday, November 5, 2015
After 31 years of child bereavement, something still continues to
rankle me. It happened again yesterday, while on my weekly walk with 2 neighbors. The conversation had turned to a death of a relative…who died just 6 weeks short... of 100 years old.
While I understand the sadness--I cannot get over the amount of lamentation and utter angst at his transitioning, as expressed by family members, retold by my neighbor. An apparently huge crowd of epic proportions, of grieving family members and friends, were apparently completely consumed with shock and grief…and fiercely non-acceptant at this untimely death--this sudden loss. A huge memorial (perhaps necessitating a stadium?) is in the planning...
I have little to say in response, as I bite my tongue. My other neighbor additionally remarks, "Seriously God? You couldn't just give him 6 more weeks to reach that milestone?" (100 years.)
My heart feels stirred…I cannot help but silently compare...My children have physically died so very young...My baby girl Lisa at age 9 and 1/2 months... My toddler Michael --27 months young. Words cannot express the frustration I feel, when hearing apparently how unfair it all seems, that a person nearly 100 YEARS OLD had to die…and how completely bent out of shape, the entire surviving family is.
Only those who have lost a child--no matter what age--can understand the difference between what is considered more or less a "normal" transitioning, compared to the depth of loss that we feel, when our child transitions…which is always "abnormal". There's no comparison, so I cannot fault them if they have not experienced the difference. But it still rankles me.
I've often wondered, how much family "help"really is. I now feel, that because I was without physical family support during my most tragic hours after the wreck, it was actually a blessing in disguise. I have seen so many people struggle, for a very long time, when they have a seemingly inexhaustible rallying support system. It's as if it's constant negative reinforcement, of a sort, as the relative/friend cries and laments along with the survivor. I had a taste of that, with strangers who had read about the wreck coming to visit me and offer their unsolicited religious advice. I politely listened, but couldn't wait for them to get out of my room. They were raining on my survival technique…which was to only focus on the fact that my family was still alive and happy in Paradise with Jesus. Of which there should be no expression of utter loss or companioned sobbing, which only served to undermine my determination to focus on their still being alive and not dead.
Yes, I understand that initially, this can be helpful to the grieving. It helped me when people cared. Or had tears in their eyes at their sudden departure. (And said very little or nothing). But weeks, months…or years of sobbing consolers afterward? How is one expected to see their way forward to Life again, when one is constantly being jerked back to Death's ugly blackness?
When my family died, I saw no family members at my hospital bedside. I was able to speak a few times by phone to my father, who was far away, care- taking my mother and sister. My brother was MIA. A couple relatives I usually had little to do with, phoned in their condolences.
Meanwhile, my newly late husband's parents saw my hospitalization as an opportune time, to rapidly arrange my family's funeral and interment in their home city. (And take what they wanted of their son's from my home--under the guise of "helping me" to pay bills.)
BUT…all this only reinforced my need for Jesus to step it up and kick into gear to help me. It's easier to see one's need for Jesus, when there's nobody else standing in the way (and sometimes blocking the way) …
Jesus did bring help, too. In more ways than I can really recount. One big way, I love to retell, was when I was facing discharge from the hospital into the care taking of my in-laws, who lived in that city. I was not allowed to be discharged and live alone. (Which I wanted). I vehemently did not want to live with my in-laws but had no option, I thought. Enter God, who provided a total stranger (a friend of a friend)-- who-- "just happened""-- to be a former nurse; an Episcopalian widowed priest's wife; (my first intro to that denomination and of which I later joined) ; a health conscious senior who --"just happened"-- to have a spare bedroom in her modest home, rented out to those in need…and currently vacant. Yeah…tailor made for me, and this wonderful woman, Beatrice, soon became my nearest and dearest all-time friend-- greatly facilitating my healing.
There really is a special "sisterhood" among us bereaved Moms. And I think the most important thing we can do after comforting a fellow bereaved Mom, is to help point the way forward--to rejoining Life. Or at the very least, to tell the devastated Mom that YES…rejoining Life is entirely possible…that LIFE can be worth living again, and joy and laughter have not permanently died...just as our child has not permanently died... but is awaiting us to join them in eternal happiness with God.
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