Yesterday, a woman at my work conveyed her concern (read: displeasure) for the manner a woman in her church was taking in the grieving process of the loss of her (12 year old) daughter. With the sudden death less than a year ago, the women’s FB wall is apparently plastered with posts as this women tries to move forward with her life. My colleague felt that this was okay in the initial period after the death — but perhaps not so much at this point in time. More specifically, her concern was in relation to the inequality of the posts for her surviving children. Her concernwhich I could not hold myself back from trying to minimize.
I attempted to point out that such social media posts never provide you with the whole picture. As I am sure many of you remember, I never shared the complete picture of my coping in the early days of my own grief journey; I shared an experience, or feeling, from the emotional soup of which I flailed about miserably in my attempt to stay afloat within. Perhaps the women is still sleeping with her youngest to help the child fall sleep, I suggested, insisting that there is no telling how this mother is with her other children in the privacy of their own home. I went as far as to say that perhaps her open display of grief was serving these children in a way no one else could appreciate; perhaps her example of letting her emotions out was serving as in invitation for her teenager to do the same with his peers.
Speaking from my own experience, I shared that grieving when you are taking care of your own grieving children is really tough. Early on, I learned that children need to process the loss in relation to where they are in their own development; they re-process the loss at every stage of development and it is important to support them as if the loss was brand new. I let her know about some great local programs for grieving children and parents of grieving children which might be a good resource to enhance the support that the church has been providing. I do believe that this type of support is critical.
Insuring that I put this in place for my own sons was the one instruction my late husband’s last wishes. I did my best to do right by them. Still, I know there were areas where I failed to provide them with all that they needed. To this day, I see their struggles and wish I had done more.
Why is that? Is it for them…or for me? Does seeing them in pain make me feel my pain even more? To be honest, I think it does. I too must remind myself that grief is a life-long process that waxes and wanes with time and events. Maybe this is why it is so hard for people to accept that losses such as my co-worker’s friend are not something you just “get over” in a year or so.
Believe me, I wish that were the case. If it were, my boys would not be constantly asking for photos, items of clothing, or favorite songs of their father — and I would not be crying in yoga, upon waking, while driving to work, or on my run. We wouldn’t be awake all night feeling the sadness and refusing to wake in the morning in avoidance of the emptiness. It is what it is and we do our best to deal with it: breathing in and out, we let a little more buried pain surface, we let the tears fall when they do, and notice that the journey takes different turns with each passing year.