In grief, many words are bandied about: denial, acceptance, healing, closure, forget, move on, recover, acknowledge, anger, and guilt.
These words are thrown at us, sometimes in our face, by others. These others may mean well, but their effect is usually the opposite. These others are often just misinformed individuals, trying to help. They don’t realize that the only help we are interested in is the return of our loved one, an impossibility. At times, we may use these words ourselves, as we struggle to make sense and order out of the place we are now in.
When my son died, I was not even thinking about these words. The only thing I could think about was my son. He was part of and overshadowed every thought and action in my new reality. I had no interest in trying to come to terms with this new reality. I only wanted to go back to before that fateful night he walked out the door. The only energy I had was spent trying to wake up from the nightmare that had become my life.
Over time, I came to acknowledge his death. My son was no longer physically present on this earth. There came a point when I could no longer believe this tragedy would be made right. Many times, I screamed at God. Other times, I crawled into his arms and wept. In the beginning, I thought a mistake had been made. God must have fallen asleep that night. Mistakes could be rectified. I had to come to terms with the fact this one would not.
Having acknowledged his death and the irreversibility of it, I learned to tolerate it. Having it be tolerable meant I could learn to live with it. I still felt as though I was an alien in some foreign land. I was still learning the rules of my new life, a life I still didn’t wish for but was now beginning to accept.
For a very long time — years — I did not think I would ever get to the point of acceptance. I still don’t think I will ever truly accept my son’s death, but I have learned to accept the new reality that has become my life. In the years since my son’s death, many good things have happened. I have made choices to do things to honor his memory and his life. I have lived more fully for him. I also live more fully for myself.
Am I healed? Have I gotten over it? We get over a cold. We don’t get over people. I believe that any healing that has occurred has been in my emotional response to my son’s death. It no longer debilitates me. The love I will always have for him liberates me.
Deb Kosmer 2011Tags: Depression, signs and connections