May 8, 2003

17 years ago, my oldest son, died unexpectedly at the age of 25. I will never forget. Since that tragic day, I measure life\’s unexpected problems with that event – I can handle anything that comes my way. I always, narrow it down by saying:

No one has died
No one is terminally ill.

Granted one day, I will have to face another tragic death – the only death that would rock my world again would be losing my beloved husband or my adult children or grandchildren if I am to be blessed with them, one day. I\’ve already lost my mom to suicide, my dad and my sister. With the exception of my brother from another mother, I am the only one left from my bio-family I grew up with.  Truth is, each death prepares you for the next.

But it wasn\’t always that way –

Every year, as May 1st  rolls around, I get …more emotional, combative, reflective. I try not to waller in these emotions. During those early stages of grief, people would tell me,

\”it\’s okay to cry and show emotion.\” 

Well of course it is. It is healthy. What they don\’t tell you is, how long should you \”feel those feelings?\” For me, I spent too much time, feeling my feelings – to where I got stuck. I had gone down so deep, I couldn\’t get out.  I was diagnosed with \”Complicated Grief.\”

Signs and symptoms of complicated grief may include: 
Intense sorrow, pain, and rumination over the loss of your loved one 
Focus on little else but your loved one\’s death 
Extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or excessive avoidance of reminders 
Intense and persistent longing or pining for the deceased 
Problems accepting the death 
Numbness or detachment Bitterness about your loss 
Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose 
Lack of trust in others 
Inability to enjoy life or think back on positive experiences with your loved one 
Complicated grief also may be indicated if you continue to: 
 Have trouble carrying out normal routines 
Isolate from others and withdraw from social activities 
Experience depression, deep sadness, guilt or self-blame 
Believe that you did something wrong or could have prevented the death 
Feel life isn\’t worth living without your loved one 
Wish you had died along with your loved one
I am so happy those days are behind me. It took a lot of work, prayer, and making a decision, that I don\’t want to live that way anymore. I had to \”snap out of it\”. 
I was stuck in that horrible stage for 8 years. Then slowly I started to heal. Now healing doesn\’t mean, you never think of your child.  Sometimes it takes my breath away, as to how much I miss him.
 Now I choose to smile and think of the good times; not dwell on that tragic day.
Then I get on with my day. I don\’t do anything else. No balloons to Heaven,
No letters in a bottle, 
nothing but my ordinary day.
 That is my tribute to Michael. I know he wouldn\’t want it any other way for me. 

5 thoughts on “May 8, 2003

  1. Anonymous May 9, 2020 / 2:04 am

    It is very hard to get over the loss of a child. After all we are supposed to go before they do. We lost our daughter when she was 6 years old in an accident. The days that I don't wonder about what might have been are few, but I have two wonderful sons and they help me remember that life goes on.God bless.

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  2. Anonymous May 9, 2020 / 5:24 am

    I can't imagine losing a child, I am so sorry you lost Michael at such a young age and unexpectedly. I never heard the term \”complicated grief\” before but it seems like a \”fitting\” diagnosis especially for someone who lost a child. Its everyone's worst nightmare and I'm sorry you have to live it. I have a dear friend in Montana, 30 years younger than me, but so very dear. She lost in utero at 6 months a little girl (she ended up having 4 biological boys and adopted a 5th boy). Her grief 10 years later is still palpable and she had to move out of the home they would have brought the little baby to because she just couldn't face the fact that baby wouldn't be there. Sadly her husband cheated on her and they are in the process of a divorce (which I hear happens a lot if a couple loses a child). Death is so hard to cope with. I've lost my mom (I was too young when dad died) and helped my hubby with the deaths of his parents. I truly honestly don't know how people can cope with death if they are not Christians. I have the hope of seeing loved ones and spending eternity with them. I'm glad you were able to \”move on\” with your grief the best you could though I know it is always there with you.betty

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  3. Anonymous May 9, 2020 / 4:38 pm

    Same here Jackie – my other 2 sons are a JOY to me.

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  4. Anonymous May 9, 2020 / 4:38 pm

    Yes, that HOPE is what keeps me going.

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  5. Anonymous May 14, 2020 / 10:54 pm

    The 10th anniversary of my oldest child's death is approaching. So many complicated feelings swirl through my mind when I think of him. I prefer to remember him as a small boy. He did not become a good man, he did some horrible things to his siblings and I have trouble wrapping my mind around it.. In the end, he was my child and I loved him. I didn't always like him and he never apologized for his actions, never owned them. I don't talk about him, especially with my other children. I feel disloyal to them if I do. Life just isn't a walk in the park, is it? I have always wondered how the mothers of serial killers and rapists feel and I suppose I have some idea.

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