Once upon a time there was an ordinary mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend who woke up on a beautiful August Sunday morning when suddenly the world as she knew it came to a screeching halt. In a split second a glass ceiling for complete happiness appeared. Gone was the carefree heart and the possibilities for a peaceful future disappeared in a blink of an eye.
Three months after Amy's sudden passing, I found myself needing somewhere to release the confusion, agony and pain. Of course others were willing to listen with compassion as I cried but I could tell they were unable to comprehend my new language. Gone was their confident loved one or friend replaced by an alien with dead eyes who sort of resembled that woman who they used to know.
Since it was too difficult to write in a journal, I bought an ipad and started a blog. From the first word I wrote, I made a secret pledge to myself that I would remain true to my heart and the devastation which has followed losing my child. Don't say what they want to hear but rather allow your heart to speak its authentic truth.
When I discovered the comment on my blog in December from HuffPost expressing an interest in cross-posting one of my entries, I panicked. Oh no, if I share my raw painful thoughts from my fragile grieving heart without searching for a silver lining I will surely be ridiculed or misunderstood. Does this mean I need to start sugarcoating my words and paint imaginary silver linings too? Isn't everyone searching for a happy ending? My lesson has been that I have not been criticized for my honesty and people are extraordinarily compassionate when you are willing to share your bleeding heart. Thank you.
Reality is that I have not found much light on the other side of losing Amy. There are still days where I think "all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put humpty together again" applies to me. Two and one-half years has not fixed me. Do I need to hitch a ride with Dorothy to visit the "great and powerful Oz?"
Others farther along without their child reassure me that you cannot hurry grief and my current state of my heart is a natural reaction based on where I am on the timeline nightmare after total devastation. The confusion comes from within as I attempt to re-engage in life among the blessed unscathed ones who insinuate otherwise.
Who sets the timetable for how long it is appropriate to grieve a child? Should grievers be seen and not heard? Could anyone truly expect me to suck it up and move forward to live my life and just accept my child's death under the 10,000 sorrows of life catagory?
Personally, I do not believe I have handled my grief well. It has swallowed me up and spit out a new unrecognizable version of me. The family and friend list continue to dwindle so the support network has changed. The telemarketers are winning on my caller-ID list. Of course the short list of steadfast friends and family remain a huge source of comfort and I am genuinely grateful for their continued love and support. By now I do realize that outside of this intimate new formed tribe of support who have witnessed my struggle, my tragedy is yesterday's news which makes perfect sense to me. However, Amy is missing from my life and that is still breaking news to my heart.
While I have met other grieving parents and siblings who have helped to offset some of the loneliness, I know first-hand that their crosses of loss are equally heavy and it is important to respect the invisible boundaries created by our individual losses. We know we cannot fix or hurry our grief. We search for distractions and beg for ways to navigate through the rest of our lives as we search for light and hope that we can trust again. No one needs to point out our loving family and friends who are still here with us. We know. Just remember there are no spares in a family so to insinuate that our loved ones can just close the ranks is a ridiculous concept. We realize the depth of our loss has forever changed us and our life. We survive yet often marvel that we can.
Regardless of my timeline in grief, I personally find myself standing at a sink-or-swim crossroad. I am weary and need rest from the relentless grief which consumes so much of me now. Aha moment -- I cannot continue feeling so sad as it is now taking a toll on my physical health. So now what? Does anyone have a magic wand to wave over me and or know where to find a reset button in my heart? Should I be praying for a miracle although the last time I did that those prayers went unanswered?
I am not just bellyaching. Despite all of my efforts to heal, i.e., continued counseling, facing my grief head on, helping others, blogging, embracing religion, losing religion, redecorating, room closing, searching for distractions, meditating, etc., I still feel limited under the glass ceiling of incomprehensible grief.
So here I stand at the crossroads desperately seeking a new direction on this jackhammered path which is not as loaded with quicksand and land mines as I attempt to rebuild my battered and broken mind, body and spirit.
Always remembering Amy.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.