Sunday, July 5, 2009

Getting to the Other Side of Grief

A friend of mine told me recently that she is moving on with her life after her only son died a year and a half ago. Her voice sounded upbeat. Her spirits were soaring. Only good things are happening now, and she is enjoying what she has to look forward to: grandchildren growing up, graduating, marrying, a good relationship with her daughter-in-law who just remarried. “Now,” she says, “I want to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

When this first happened, I could not convince her she would survive the loss. She told me that she realizes now what she misses the most besides her son’s presence in her life. “I miss the conversations we had, the fighting back and forth, most times with a good ending. I miss the exchange of loving phrases. I miss the laughter.”

I tried to make a coffee date to see her and was finally successful. Her calendar was busy with whatever activities she enjoys and people she enjoys being with. She will find her way, I am confident, and I am happy she has come so far.

Sadly, her husband is not in the same place. He can not get past his son’s death, nor the way he died. He does not want to go to a grief group or see a counselor. I’m sure he feels a lot of anger and rage at what happened and probably asks himself (as most of us do) “Why me?” Hopefully, he too, can do it on his own, but he is an example of what I am writing these columns for, hoping that something will click for him too. And one day I’m sure it will. It will just take him longer. No two people grieve alike or for the same amount of time. I’m convinced he will come out on the other side of grief as my friend has.

This couple is a good example of how men and women, husbands and wives, aren’t necessarily in the same place after the death of their child. But if they can talk about the child, remember good times and their loving relationship with the child and not concentrate on how the child died or that they couldn’t save them, in the end, their communication will hopefully help each other accept and cope with their loss.

In memory of Vicki Tushingham, active in many grief organizations after her child died, I’d like to share one of her many eloquent poems she wrote during her lifetime that perhaps says it better than I ever could for any mother or father trying to get to the other side of grief:


There is a place called memory,
Where we sometimes like to roam.
Through hills of love and laughter,
A place we know as home.

A place that’s free from all this pain,
Where our hearts are light once more.
A place that lives forever where life is,
As it was before.

Our children live in memory
They laugh and dance and sing.
Their lives are filled with magic
That only heaven can bring.

They feel no hurt or anger,
Their spirits are free as air.
And God’s love will always protect them
In times when we aren’t there.

Cherish this place called memory
Feel the love that lives there.
Remember the joys, the warmth of the sun,
And the bond you will always share.

Smile at happy moments
Laugh at times gone by,
Let the tears you cry be happy ones
Know love will never die.

Have no fear of visiting
The joy will outweigh the pain.
Learn to treasure memory
There is much that you will gain.

For though life is not, as it was before,
And never will be again.
Our memories are much richer
Than if love had never been.

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