Thursday, June 24, 2010

Get on with it

One of my new friends linked to this article on her blog. She lost her son last month and reading her thoughts has been painful, yet therapeutic. I remember that anguish...that pain so searingly fresh. Being unable to do anything, think anything, be anything other than PAIN. Not believing that you will ever be able to breathe normally again, or walk through the world without feeling like a foreigner...an alien race, or being able to feel peace or hope or happiness again. Ugh...its just so hard. Its like being burned all over your body...you can't do anything for them. Just existing hurts. Even healing hurts them. Every little touch, gesture, hug hurts, even if you don't mean for it to.

Reading this article brought back so much, too...and shocked me. What's shocking to me is that he gets it...how did he realize all that without going through the process himself?! When he said grief was holy...it resonated within me. YES. That was exactly what plagued me for so long...knowing that this process was important, even the dark, crazy, scary moments...but not knowing exactly why. Most people only want to deal with the comforting, easy-to-swallow, peaceful moments. Some didn't understand when I said I couldn't shouldn't and wouldn't do that. I *had* to feel all of it. It was SO HARD, but I look back and treasure those moments, in a way. Its hard to explain...but he does it in this article.


When you lose a child, grieving is a lifelong experience
written by: Steven Kalas
ReviewJournal.com

"When our first child is born, a loud voice says, "Runners, take your marks!" We hear the starting gun and the race begins. It's a race we must win at all cost. We have to win. The competition is called "I'll race you to the grave." I'm currently racing three sons. I really want to win.

Not everyone wins.

I'm here at the national meeting of Compassionate Friends, an organization offering support and resources for parents who lose the race. I'm wandering the halls during the "break-out" sessions. In this room are parents whose children died in car accidents. Over there is a room full of parents of murdered children. Parents of cancer victims are at the end of the hall. Miscarriages and stillbirths are grouped together, as are parents who have survived a child's suicide. And so it goes.

In a few minutes, I'm going to address Compassionate Friends. This is the toughest audience of my life. I mix with the gathering crowd, and a woman from Delaware glances at my name tag. Her name tag has a photo of her deceased son. My name tag is absent photos.

"So ... you haven't ... lost anyone," she says cautiously.

"My three sons are yet alive, if that's what you're asking me," I say gently.

She tries to nod politely, but I can see that I've lost credibility in her eyes. She's wondering who invited this speaker, and what on earth he could ever have to say to her.

My address is titled "The Myth of Getting Over It." It's my attempt to answer the driving questions of grieving parents: When will I get over this? How do I get over this?

You don't get over it. Getting over it is an inappropriate goal. An unreasonable hope. The loss of a child changes you. It changes your marriage. It changes the way birds sing. It changes the way the sun rises and sets. You are forever different.

You don't want to get over it. Don't act surprised. As awful a burden as grief is, you know intuitively that it matters, that it is profoundly important to be grieving. Your grief plays a crucial part in staying connected to your child's life. To give up your grief would mean losing your child yet again. If I had the power to take your grief away, you'd fight me to keep it. Your grief is awful, but it is also holy. And somewhere inside you, you know that.

The goal is not to get over it. The goal is to get on with it.

Profound grief is like being in a stage play wherein suddenly the stagehands push a huge grand piano into the middle of the set. The piano paralyzes the play. It dominates the stage. No matter where you move, it impedes your sight lines, your blocking, your ability to interact with the other players. You keep banging into it, surprised each time that it's still there. It takes all your concentration to work around it, this at a time when you have little ability or desire to concentrate on anything.

The piano changes everything. The entire play must be rewritten around it.

But over time the piano is pushed to stage left. Then to upper stage left. You are the playwright, and slowly, surely, you begin to find the impetus and wherewithal to stop reacting to the intrusive piano. Instead, you engage it. Instead of writing every scene around the piano, you begin to write the piano into each scene, into the story of your life.

You learn to play that piano. You're surprised to find that you want to play, that it's meaningful, even peaceful to play it. At first your songs are filled with pain, bitterness, even despair. But later you find your songs contain beauty, peace, a greater capacity for love and compassion. You and grief -- together -- begin to compose hope. Who'da thought?

Your grief becomes an intimate treasure, though the spaces between the grief lengthen. You no longer need to play the piano every day, or even every month. But later, when you're 84, staring out your kitchen window on a random Tuesday morning, you welcome the sigh, the tears, the wistful pain that moves through your heart and reminds you that your child's life mattered.

You wipe the dust off the piano and sit down to play."

5 comments:

Barrett, Melinda, & Angel Trinity Adams said...

I loved this article...and decided to post it up on my blog too. Thanks bethany for everything you do for me...seriously! At times I think you help me out more than most when it comes to grieving! I LOVE YOU!!!

Alice said...

I did not lost a son, but I think that is the most painful pain for a parent.

My grandma had lost 4 of her 5 sons. One day, after Martim was diagnosed, she told me " Now you understand my pain, not because your son is sick, but because you are a mother."

Gavin was not mine, but I think of him every day.

I remember the day I read that terrible news on your blog. I was having a party for Martim at my home, we had came from king´s with good news about him, and I wanted to be happy but I was so worried about Gavin ( I didn´t took my computer with me to London).

Finally I read your blog and I started to cry. My mum too, even before I tell her what was going on. I went to my room the rest of the night. There was no party anymore for Martim because I couldn´t celebrate.

I still can´t celebrate anything about Martim without thinking of Gavin...

With love,

Alice (Martim´s mum)

nancy said...

yes. he gets it.

The Holland Family said...

Thanks for sharing this article. It really makes sense. I may steal it for my blog too. Sometimes I feel the more time goes on the more "over" it I should be. I think I'm just moving my piano aside. Thanks again. Hugs to you - Nicole, Mia's mom ^i^

Melody B. said...

Really interesting article. What a beautiful way to see things. I am amazed ALL the time how you have graced through this trial.