Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Three T's for Grievers

If you are a bereaved parent, I have what I call the three T’s for grievers.

Crying is a natural and healthy emotion. You will shed many tears for your child now and probably forever. That is okay. Tears cleanse the body and soul. After a good cry, you are able to resume what you were doing. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s been long enough; that you should not shed tears anymore. Cry whenever you like or whenever you get the urge. Good friends will always understand. After 17 years I still cry at the smallest, most insignificant things that remind me of my daughter: a beautiful day where the sun shines, a beautiful sunset, a special song, a movie, a play…all the things that my daughter is missing because she is no longer here. I pick up seashells on the beach as she used to, but quickly throw them back. The intensity of the moment brings tears to my eyes. Most bereaved parents can think of many similar times. But when the tears dissipate, you, like me, will feel drained but better able to cope with another day.

You need to talk, to let others hear your story, to let others know you want to talk about your child. Your child lived, was a beautiful human being, and you want him/her to be remembered. Let others help you through the grief process by being supportive. Talk to your spouse, your parents, your friends, your religious leader or a grief specialist. Don’t tell them “how” you are feeling. Tell them “what” you are feeling. Certainly, don’t pretend you are fine. You are not fine and will never “get over it.” You may lose old friends who don’t understand, but you will be challenged to find new ones who do understand and want to help. Those further on the grief journey can help you learn how to cope and will gladly try to be of help, because, in turn, by helping you, they are also helping themselves.

Time is the great healer of human beings, but time does not heal our grief over the death of a child. It only softens the intensity of the grief. Hopefully, you won’t always feel a 10 pound weight on your chest. You will eventually find a new normal, but life will never be the same as it was before this tragic death. Your grief is not on a timetable. Others can not expect you to heal in a few weeks, a few months or even a year. Everyone grieves differently and at different times and is entitled to move at his or her own pace. Others should understand you will always have a hole in your heart for your lost child.

We, as bereaved parents, are dealing with the worst thing that can ever happen to us. We need friends to be there for us through our tears, to hear what we have to say, any time of the day or night, no matter how long that journey takes. If you have friends who will do that, they are, indeed, true friends and you are very lucky.

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