I realized this week that if you don’t know me personally and you are reading my blog, I have painted you a bleak portrait of a woman missing her boy. And I did start my tale at the beginning of my grief, and that is a dark time. The rub of it is, that if you DO know me personally, bleak or sad or depressed are NOT the words that you might use to describe me. After almost three years I am in a different place than when Luke first passed away, so today I want to write to you about something that helped.
It begins, as it always does, with a story. I was at the cemetery one day that first summer. The sun was shining brightly and the warmth from its rays made me want to close my eyes and just be. So I did. I was sitting quietly with my thoughts and with my sadness when I heard the sound of car tires crunching the stones and gravel of the road. As it came to a stop, I peaked one eye open and saw a man and a woman get out of their respective sides and head toward a grey stone bench on the far end of the field. I closed my eyes and went back to thinking about Luke hoping the couple wouldn’t stay long. In those first months I didn’t tend to see very many people and I considered the cemetery MY space. It was such a vital connection between me and my boy at that time, that I would spend up to an hour some days just sitting there. And I didn’t like to be intruded upon. But here they were. After a few moments I opened my eyes again and realized the woman was headed toward me. And that I recognized her. It was a teacher from the elementary school. She had retired just as my boys were coming into the system so I honestly didn’t know her all that well.
When she got to me, she stopped and asked if I remembered her. We made small talk about school and what we were each doing these days. After a few minutes she seemed to gather herself and she began to speak about the loss of her son. It was a tragic recollection of an unexpected death caused by a random medical issue. It made my heart ache to hear the pain in her voice. She explained that she had followed our story and had been hoping to run into me because she wanted to send me a book. It was a book of daily meditations that someone had gifted her and had helped her tremendously. I let her know that I would be grateful for anything that might lessen the weight of loss and gave her my address.
In the fog of grief I completely forgot about the exchange until a package arrived in my mailbox. It was the book – “Healing After Loss – Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief” by Martha Whitmore Hickman. As I skimmed through the pages for the first time, I didn’t realize how much I would come to depend on these words to lift me up and validate my emotions. This small yellow book SAVED ME. Every day I would open up to the page of the date. Some days it would be a message that somehow completely got what I was feeling about losing Luke. Some days it would be words that encouraged me to give in to the dark moods as an important part of getting through the loss. Most days it would be words of Hope. Hope that, whether I believed it or not, I was going to come out on the other side of this chasm.
“What a truckload of responsibility and potential for pain we take on when we love another human being: all the dangers of misunderstanding, or betrayal, of indifference, and ultimately, of loss.
To more than balance those dangers, we feel the possibility of life made rich through sharing experiences with another – of physical and spiritual warmth and communion, of enriched understanding and common achievement, of a stay against loneliness and isolation.
Most of us have no trouble opting for love.
But then, to have invested so much of our life’s energy in the life of a loved one – and then to find that loved one gone! Is it any wonder we are, for a time, laid low?
But the love we have shared helps form the strength to deal with loss. The hope and joy we have known help us believe in the possibility of hope and joy again.
And the intensity of grief (which will moderate, though we may find it hard to believe) mirrors the intensity of shared love, which will continue to beam through our life, to illumine and nourish all that we do and are.
Love never ends. Never. “
Forgive me the long quote, but how do you not feel better after you read that? I am incredibly grateful for the author’s ability to translate into words what for me was pure, raw emotion. I am incredibly grateful to this teacher who reached out to comfort a fellow bereaved mama. I’ve said it before and I will say it forever – together, we get through.
So, if today is your Day One I need you to know there are resources out there that help. Try whatever speaks to you – whether it’s books or music or journaling or therapy. Keep trying. And trying. Because if something helps, even if it’s only a teeny tiny bit, it is something. It is hope. May tomorrow be a better day. Xxx