With my whole heart I can say that I am not afraid of anything in life now that I’ve watched my son die. Nothing can ever be harder than that moment in time; therefore, I have nothing to fear. Death itself no longer scares me, either, knowing he is waiting for me on the other side.
There are, however, a few land mines that I run into every once in a while that catch me off guard. Explosions of anger, frustration or sadness that turn me inside out and make me come unglued.
You know what I’m talking about. You’re minding your own business at Target, trying to remember what the hell you went there for in the first place, when an acquaintance notices you from afar. “Shannon?!?”
The feeling of being recognized in a grocery store, or anywhere else for that matter, freaks me the hell out all by itself. What’s worse is dreading how this conversation is about to go. There is a new anxiety born when your child dies. To meet someone new or run into an old friend means you have to brace yourself for the standard awkwardness that is about to ensue.
This is the part where they say all these kind phrases like, “well at least you have another son” or “at least he didn’t suffer” or the best one of all… “honey, this was all part of God’s plan”.
>insert right hook, here<
I really do have visions of punching these people in the face. In all honesty, I am very much at peace with my son’s death. I am not, however, at peace with people’s tackiness. One moment I am full of love and light and being grateful for whatever I am actually doing in the moment, and next I’m a raging lunatic who wants to go bananas on some chick in Target.
For a while, I beat myself up for having these flashes of crazy speed through my brain. I thought, how can I be truly at peace if these nasty thoughts still happen? I thought it needed to be one or the other. You are either at peace or a hot mess.
The truth is, we will always be both. We’re human. Our souls are here to have a human experience and the human experience is all of those things combined. The yin and the yang. You cannot have one without the other. My moments of peace would not be moments of peace without going a little nutso once in a while. I wouldn’t be able to appreciate my considerate friends if there weren’t jerks out there dropping God-bombs on me at the store.
So the next time Suzie Q starts getting preachy in the toilet paper aisle, smile and with all sincerity, tell her, “Screw God’s plan” and stroll away.
Shannon Harris Horton
Author, Breaking the Rules of Grief, A Bereaved Mother’s Journey
www.shannonharrislifecoach.comTags: anger, child loss, coping with grief, faith, grief and loss, humor
My son hurt himself fatally after coming back from Iraq.
6 and 1/2 yrs. later, I am still not well, but you described my feelings exactly. I hate going places and being blindsided.
Shannon, I enjoyed reading your article. I too lost a son 11 years ago. People no longer say anything to me probably because they think ‘I’m over it!’ What do they know??? I do remember in the early days how people reacted. I overheard a co-worker on the phone to a friend telling her I was crazy because it had been 6 months and I should be over it by now. I’ll never forget how I felt when I heard her say that. It was probably a good thing I was numb and running on empty or I most likely would have bitch slapped her! Eleven years later, I still have no patience for idiots.
Loved the story, God’s plan in the Grocery Store!!! I feel exactly the same way! I lost my 35 year old son 4 years ago.
I feel exactly the same way! I lost my 35 year old son 4 years ago.
Living in a small town is a blessing and a curse. I hate the grocery store because I have the exact same experience you write about. And even wonderful people freak me out. I am there for bread and milk and don’t want to dissolve in a puddle of tears in aisle three.
Shannon, I can relate to your articles especially the part about feeling like a raving lunatic. My 33 year old son passed away 34 days ago. I never know how i am going to respond to well meaning people. I think. I do well. I say to the person what they would say if given the opportunity.
He’s in a better place He’ is at rest He’s no longer suffering I know I will see him again
I look at it as reverse comforting. I am not a good day today. So reading the stories and comments help me to smile through the tears.
Shannon, that’s me to a T! Though I am not yet at peace with my 29 year old son’s death six months ago. He was so a part of me. My sorrow is overwhelming!
My son died 7 weeks ago at the age of 22 months. Today was the first day I decided to search for some grief advice and your article was the first thing I read. Its so strange that the first paragraph I read is exactly how I feel. My entire life (38 years) I have feared death (I have over 500 skydives so a lot of my family and friends do not believe me). However, its true. I have always been scared of the finalness (I know not a real word) of death. Since the day my son died it has completely disappeared. I don’t know what that means or why I felt the need to comment but I guess I just wanted to put in out there for some to see and let you know you are not the only one and vice versa.
…exactly why I go grocery shopping at 10 or 11 pm…I dont want to see annnnnyone! It’s been almost 8 months since my son lost his battle with addiction & depression…everyday is a struggle for me, I feel so lost without him in this world.
THANK YOU, for this article. I feel this way too around family members, friends, acquaintances, who start to preach to me why my son died and what it means, and how i have to continue living for my 2nd born. UGH, i want to SCREAM !!! however; i have learned to smile and nod. I think the things they say is to make themselves feel better, because they sure as hell don’t make me feel any better about my sons death.
Thank you greatly Shannon. It has been 2 months since the over publisized death of my 25 year old son. He gave me 8 years of his life helping me while I was I’ll. When I began to recover, I was not able to give him back his life. He was self medicating his anxiety and pain away. In spite of his extreme care and intelligence, he passed. Even speaking with good friends about a greif you cannot share is difficult. Very few understand your pain.
I lost my 22 year old son 16 months ago and I’m not over it. Tears everyday. Those so called well meaning friends who say” God has a plan for everything and there’s a reason for everything that happens”. My response is “really???? When you figure out what the plan is and reason why my child is dead …. then you let me know”. That usually shuts them up.
“Screw God’s plan”. I laughed so long and hard I literally cried. I lost my 31 year old son 15 months ago to the ravages of depression and alcohol. I think I’m doing pretty well, but I absolutely have those wtf moments of blindsiding anguish. I have to say, absurdly perhaps, “bless you” for saying that out loud! I do not believe God micro-manages the details of our lives, and certainly doesn’t choose to regularly rip bleeding holes in parent’s hearts, whether it is for our ultimate good or not.
I like to think that almost everyone who says inappropriate things is well-meaning and just doesn’t have the words they’re looking for, but that said, I absolutely get the right hook urge…
Thanks for making me laugh in the face of this grief. I’m making progress.
Glad I found y’all, I lost my daughter to a serial killer, her 3rd year aniversery is coming soon
I moved to another country after my son died. The best thing I ever did. I removed all the stigma and intruding people trying to figure out what to say to me. I choose who I tell and when. It helps me heal but being so far away from his memory is a secondary loss I feel all the time.
I wish I felt fearless. I feel the opposite. My youngest son died in my arms after a 3 year battle with cancer, his brothers and dad on every side of my body. I now don’t trust the world. I am afraid of “the other shoe dropping” when good things happen. Most importantly, I am triggered every time I take one of my other children in to a doctor or they have a “bump” or have to have an x-ray. I am afraid all of the time, even though I am one of the strongest people I know.
I thought a Dad and Mom dying in the same week was bad but lossing my son 4yrs later is something I will always grieve. No fear of death now. You are so right. Living one day at a time. Keep writing. Thank You.
Thank you Shannon, you made me laugh! So accurate about the anxiety at the awkward moment when someone see’ s you after a long time. I have met new people who weren’t afraid to approach the subject of our loss and just acknowledging it gave me such comfort. Our youngest daughter (1 month old) died just over 2 years ago. The grief has felt like a journey, a road full of potholes, unexpected turns, rapid climbs and fast descents, and the road carries on. I also now struggle with fear of the other shoe falling. Thank you for writing. Laughter is good medicine.