By Anne Dionne —
There was a time when I believed that people should “get over” their grief by the 12th month following a loss. After all, isn’t that what our society believes to be true?
In the summer of 1976, I was employed by a doctor in a medical office building. There were several other offices on our floor, and at noon time, I would meet with some of the other doctors’ employees for lunch. One woman, whom we called Gracie, had lost her 16-year-old son two years prior in a drowning accident. Each day at lunch break, Gracie would speak about Lloyd almost as if he hadn’t died. She would tell us stories about him and share her favorite memories.
Quite frankly, the rest of us thought she was a little over the top and we grew tired of hearing the stories. One day, she shared that she had not touched his bedroom since he had died two years before-the bed wasn’t made, and his clothing lay in the same place as he had left them on the day that he died.
Well, let me tell you that we were all flabbergasted, to say the least! “Isn’t this pathetic?” we lamented. We were certain that Gracie would be ready to be locked up in a mental institution if she didn’t receive immediate psychological attention.
Fast forward to May of 2001. I was the mother of a 19-year-old son who had lost his life in an automobile accident two days prior. As I prepared for his funeral, I couldn’t get Gracie off my mind. I hadn’t thought about her since I left my old job in 1976. I wanted to look her up and offer an apology. “Now,” I thought, “I get it.”
Here I am now, seven years after my son died. How long will it take for me to “get over it?” Well, I’m amazed that I am still here-that I didn’t die when my son died. Only someone who has experienced a devastating loss can truly understand what that means.
Yes, I have joy in my life again. Yes, my life and relationships are stable and I function normally again. I’ve come a long way since the days of lying on the cemetery grass near my son’s gravesite in tears while talking and singing to him. Yes, I hope that I am graced with a long and healthy life. Am I over it? The clear answer is, “No.”
I will never be over it, nor would I want to be over it. I keep my son’s memory alive in my heart and soul. I believe that his body died, but his spirit lives on, and that gives me peace and purpose for living. His picture is still on my bedroom wall, and I occasionally wear his sweats. And if I ever find Gracie, we will have a real heart-to-heart talk over a nice warm cup of tea.