Moving Forward is Possible
With any profound loss, there isn’t a timetable for recovery. Moving forward is an individual thing, both in how it’s done and how long it takes.
I have some suggestions to make this difficult journey a little easier. Although there is no such thing as “getting over” losing a child, it is possible to achieve a “new normal.” Naturally, you will never stop loving or remembering your beloved child, but trust me when I say it is possible to achieve happiness again.
Don’t forget that there are other loved ones in your life, some of whom need you. I feel sure that our children on the other side would not want us to spend the rest of our lives grieving for them. After all, they love us and want us to be happy.
Moving Forward Through Holidays
Special days such as birthdays, holidays and anniversaries, (or angel-versaries as I like to call them) are challenging, especially in the beginning. We anticipate them with dread. There are ways to tame these looming days so they are not so overwhelming.
With the major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah, try to simplify. You may want to have a family meeting in advance to brainstorm what can be eliminated, minimized or delegated.
The decorations, cards and/or gift giving can be scaled down or eliminated. Consider on-line shopping. Could another family member host the event? With younger children, you probably want to maintain some family traditions and, of course, presents.
Creating New Traditions to Move Forward
Try making new traditions, like having family members write a note to the child and put them in their stocking or a Hanukkah decoration. Also you could each share a funny or touching story at mealtime. Just remember to be kind to yourself, and trust that family and friends will understand.
With special dates such as their birthday or angel-versary, the anticipation is always worse than the actual day. It helps to have a plan.
Some suggestions include: giving a party for friends and/or family; leaving town; hosting a “volunteer day” in their honor; or simply to spend it alone. I hosted parties for my son’s first few birthdays.
No Right Way to Move Forward
The planning and set up helped to distract me from the dreaded day. Additionally, his friends and family appreciated a way to celebrate his life and share memories.
The days were nice, not nearly as bad as I’d feared. For his first angel-versary, I organized a beach clean up and followed it with a barbecue at our house. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this, but planning ahead can help.
Also, if you have joined a grief group, or made new and supportive friends, or even been able to laugh for the first time, congratulate yourself! Ignore family or friends who try and put a timetable on your grief, let them know that you are doing the best you can through this difficult time.
More Options for Moving Forward
Visiting a Psychic or Medium
I, like many of us, would never have considered doing something this “out there.” However, I was in so much pain that all bets were off! A friend recommended a psychic-medium she believed to be credible.
This medium, without any prior knowledge or information, described my son’s relationships with us, answered my questions as to why he tried the “huffing” that he died from, and relayed so many specifics that I could not deny it was Kevin communicating through her.
This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I gained tremendous peace and healing from it and still enjoy annual readings. A word of caution, it is important to find a psychic who is recommended, there are many who are not legitimate.
I found that “getting out of my head” and giving to others went a long way towards my healing. Practicing random acts of kindness can be a good way to start. As Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
One bereaved family, as a way of moving forward, decided to do an act of kindness every day in honor of their daughter. They would put money in an expiring meter, or hold open a door for a stranger, etc. and silently say, “This is for you, Kelly.” I wanted to volunteer but my unpredictable emotions early on limited my choices.
Fortunately, I found an organization (Canine Companions for Independence) that utilizes volunteers for the initial phase of training potential service dogs. This was a perfect fit for me. I have enjoyed raising these puppies. It has given me such a happy heart to see “my” dogs graduate and move on to help others.
Also, I know my son is proud of me. I believe that every time you give of yourself to help others you get at least as much back in return. It’s a win-win!
You Have a Choice
You have a choice; will you choose to be a prisoner of your depression, or will you do your best to rise above it and move on?
This is the last in a series of three segments by Linda Zelik, who lost her 24 year-old- son in 2010. She is a U.S.C. graduate and retired occupational therapist. This was adapted from her book, From Despair to Hope, Survival Guide for Bereaved Parents. The book can be found in both paperback or eBook format at www.Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or BookBaby.com.
Read more by Linda Zelik here.