I rarely am driven to write when in an emotional mood of the fired-up variety. I am pretty sure I have not addressed this before, and if I have it bears repeating.
It started with a thoughtless comment by of all people a social worker, who said, “I am glad you have got over your daughter.” I am not often stuck for words, but I was struck dumb.
Firstly her profession should have if she kept up her knowledge told her there are no stages; there is no prescribed way to grieve. The current understanding is that we (yes I am a professionally qualified social worker and psychotherapist) assist the family and or individual members through the crisis stages and then guide them to a renewed relationship with their deceased child. No words will ever bring that child back, but with guided grief work, we may help those in that terror of terrors to learn to ride the waves. Is grief work, you bet, it is the most challenging work you will ever have to do
Grief is not straightforward, but one has, in the end, two options to go down or up. Some find it so overwhelming that they join their child. I understand that I tried three times, but it was not to be. The universe had other plans. I am saddened when I hear of a family member joining a deceased child as if that was there only way to cope, and I question how much quality hope and help were they given.
No words will ever suffice, that is the first lesson those who wish to support someone in their grief. Actions speak louder than words – a cooked dinner delivered at the right time gives a mother breathing space a chance not to have to be there for others all the time. I think I have given a lot of examples over the time I have been scribbling.
The other pet hate I have as does nearly every parent in my position feels anger. There is NO SUCH THING AS CLOSURE FOR A PARENT- yes you heard right there is no such thing as closure. Closure is a media-driven word from people who have not had the gut-wrenching experience we have of losing a child. You will hear the police frequently say “now the family can have closure.” Some parents flanked by police repeat what they think they are supposed to say. Okay, the intention of police, and media is to be kind for the family, but if they only knew that the finding of the bones of a missing child or a missing child, a murdered child is just the continuation of the hell for the family. Sure there is some closure for the police they have clues to solve a case, or an offender charged and therefore the beginning of closure is for them as they are close to case closed. There maybe closure for a lot of people BUT NO parent finds closure.
What a parent does do if they decide to begin to live with that hole in their being and their family is to learn how to live around the pain. To accept the waves that in the beginning come crashing in so fast one is left reeling. Time helps spread the waves out a bit, but they are there for life. The goal is to help those waves to come less high and less quickly.
You can help very easily by talking about Johnny, Jane or whatever the child’s name is. Nothing is appreciated more by a mother more than someone to mention their child’s name. I have openly said I have no partner, so I cannot speak for the fathers/stepfathers in this position. I suspect a lot of it happens under wraps.
So what is happening? Do not permit yourself to be boxed; do not ever stop talking about your child. You can judge a lot of people who are genuine in this alone if they do not get it.
Inside it over time can be likened to a unique thread of love taking your busted open heart and slowly weaving a thread of love over your heart. If we do not let that happen and keep picking at it like a scab, we will keep ourselves unwell.
This unique thread weaves slowly but surely, and if we allow it to happen in its time, we slowly rejoin the world. We will never be the same and people who say oh we have the old Karyn back (insert your name) have no idea of the faces that sometimes we feel we have put on. I am strong enough now in myself to not put a face on. The world needs to know that this is a life sentence for us, and those who strive to survive are heroes.
I have found that I no longer hide my pain, because that has been the problem. We have hidden it behind the masks of mother, coach, wife whatever. Have you ever wondered why there is no word to describe our role in the grief of our child? Widows have husbands pass, Widowers have wives, parents dead the children are orphans, but there is nothing for us.
I realise my emotions have probably made this a bit scattered, but I am so incensed by the thoughtless remark and that word closure.
Heal well dear warriors because you truly are a warrior, it will take some time each is different but no less shattered.
Blessing to you and yours