A Few Things I’ve Learned in the 10 Years Since Jason Died

Jason and Becky 1999

As the ten-year anniversary of Jason’s death approaches, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’ve observed, learned, or experienced in the last ten years and thought I’d share a few from my perspective as bereaved parent. I have posted about some of these before, but they are worth repeating. (As with all posts, these are strictly from my perspective as an individual bereaved parent and should in no way be construed as rigid, representing other bereaved parents, or “one size fits all.” I do, however, hope that my perspective can bring some insight or understanding.)

You can survive the death of a child. I think this is one thing about which I still marvel. I thought Jason’s death would kill literally kill me. I didn’t think I could live without Jason. I didn’t want to live without my boy. I wanted to die. But, one breath at a time, one baby step at a time, one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time eventually became one month at a time. One month eventually became one season at a time. And here I am, ten years later – not exactly none-the-worse-for-wear, but here I am. I would give anything to have Jason here, to not have lived the past ten years without his precious presence in my life. I can’t go back, though, so I have to go forward. I am a survivor; I have survived the death of my precious son. I’m not the same person I was; I’m not as strong as I was. Hopefully I have learned some valuable lessons along the way and have become a more kind, caring and empathetic person. I want to live my life in a way that would make Jason proud of me; I am trying the best I can to live my life in a way that would make Jason proud of me.

I will never “get over” the death of my child. I have not broken an arm; I haven’t caught the flu. I don’t need to “heal,” “move on,” “find closure.” “turn and face my grief”  or whatever similar terminology others may feel a need to present to me concerning my grief and death of Jason. The loss will always be with me. Grief will be somewhere – perhaps sometimes not too far  – underneath the surface for the rest of my life. The death of a child tears the very fabric of a parent’s life. It alters everything – hopes, dreams, future, present, faith, reality, relationships…the list could go on and on. I have had to learn how to live without Jason and integrate his loss into the very fabric of my being, and I will continue that process by varying degrees for the rest of my life.

Integrating the death of a child into the fabric of one’s life takes much longer than anyone would think. Have you ever seen photos of people wandering around neighborhoods after a huge tornado or hurricane? They look lost, dazed, and in shock. They talk about not being able to locate any familiar landmarks; the landscape looks foreign. Everything they once possessed and knew as familiar is scattered to who-knows-where. That’s sort of what it’s like to lose a child. Jason’s death changed the entire landscape of my life and altered my whole world forever. I felt lost, dazed, and in shock.

As a mental picture-aid, I tend to think of the death of a child as a wrecking ball smashing into a crystal vase, being tossed wounded into the middle of a category 5 hurricane, or a bomb blasting a huge crater. The vase is shattered into many pieces, some of them as small as dust. The pieces are scattered far and wide, and it takes a long time to find them and put them back into something that is functional and looks like a vase again. The bomb creates a huge vacuum and then a crater (made even larger by secondary losses and secondary wounds) and the surrounding landscape becomes totally changed.

The thing about losing a child (using the vase/hurricane/bomb illustrations) is that I can’t just buy a new vase or move to another location. The unthinkable has happened – my child has died. Jason died. It’s my loss, my life, my family, my world – and I have had to figure out how to put things back together in a meaningful, useful way and how to live a purposeful life without my precious son. I have had to find original and/or replacement pieces and put that vase back together; it will never look the same as it once did. It may leak now and then or show the cracks. Hurting beyond measure (and not knowing how to swim), I have had to figure out how to keep my head above water in the midst of the storm and somehow make it back to solid ground. I have had to take whatever resources I had – sometimes only a spoon – and slowly start shoveling dirt back in the crater to try to create a productive landscape again.

It has taken a lot of time and energy to integrate such a huge loss into my life, to begin to be comfortable in the skin of the person I now am, to find a “new normal” way of living without Jason. It’s a huge loss – one beyond anyone’s imagination. It took us however-many-years to reach the point we were in our lives when our child died. I was 26 when Jason was born and 46 when he died. I had looked forward to being a mother since I was young. That was my goal – I wanted to be a mother. When I was pregnant with Jason, I couldn’t wait to meet the active little person growing inside of me (believe me, he was very active!). The first time I looked at Jason after he was born, my heart felt so full of love for him I thought it would burst. He was my cuddler, my hugger, my sunshine. We wholly invest our lives and gave all of our love without reserve to our children. It’s not logical to think that the time frame for integrating such a huge loss into our lives will be short. It’s not logical to think that a bereaved parent can march through the “five step” grief process on a schedule.

Many resources say that the second year may be harder than the first. The numbness has worn off, and the second year is when the a bereaved parent begins to deal with the permanent reality that s/he has to live the rest of his/her life without his/her precious child. I found this to be true for me. Some books will say that some, especially bereaved mothers, may continue to feel intense emotion and grief for 2-5 years. Grief can be complicated by many, many things – support or lack of support, individual griever (resources, personality, upbringing, etc.), additional losses (moving, friendships/relationships, job, etc.). My own grief was complicated by many of these.

If someone wants to look at a loose (and I mean very loose) time frame, I would say the following: There are no words to describe the pain of the first year; it’s like a limb has been torn off with no anesthetic. It’s excruciating, raw agony. Don’t expect the bereaved parent to be “over” the death of a child in the first year. The second year may be worse than the first as the bereaved parent grapples with the permanent reality of his/her child’s death. Any numbness has worn off  – all that’s left is stark reality of having to live a life without his/her child. The years 2-5 involve the process and hard work of integrating the loss into the fabric of one’s daily life, of finding and becoming familiar with a “new normal,” of becoming familiar with the life that is now yours and the person you now are. It’s never a straight path; it’s windy, up and down, backward and forward. The years 6-10 are a continued integration of the loss and building on the foundation of the first five years. It’s a process that keeps continuing on and on. Perhaps if we – the bereaved parent and those around them – look at the grieving process in terms of years instead of days, weeks, or months, we would be able to remove unreasonable expectations and the pressure of a time limit, and be allowed to simply grieve the loss of our precious child in a more natural manner.

Some bereaved parents struggle with their faith. I really struggled with my faith after Jason died; I didn’t understand why God didn’t protect Jason. I didn’t understand why “God’s people” were not there for us when we needed them so badly. I still don’t really understand. I prayed and prayed for our kids, for their protection, for their friends. There are just some things that we can only see through a glass darkly now and to which we will only know the answers once we get to heaven. The roots of my faith are deep and well-established. I know that, although my faith is alive, it does not look the same as it once did.

People don’t know what to do or say to a bereaved parent. Sometimes people say or do nothing; they just back away or disappear. Sometimes they say things that, while meaning to be helpful, actually cause additional pain. When a bereaved parent’s heart is so raw, these secondary wounds tend to hurt much more than they would ordinarily and add additional layers of pain on top of an already terribly grieving heart. I found myself hypersensitive in many ways and deeply hurt by the actions/inactions of others. It hurt horrendously to be left so alone by people we counted on for support. It hurt even more to see my family so alone and hurting. It hurt to reach out for help, only to feel like my hand was slapped away.

But I have learned over the years that I need to extend grace to people and let it go. I have to admit it took me a while to reach that point of being able and willing to extend grace because I was so hurt, raw and wounded. I continue to remind myself that it’s not an easy thing to be around a bereaved parent – or to know what to do or say. I feel like I have a lot of scar tissue on my heart from those experiences. I still tend to hunker down behind the walls I built as I tried to protect my broken heart from further wounds. I don’t believe in the same concept of friendship as I used to. But I will continue to try to extend grace to the best of my ability. I am far from perfect and don’t always succeed, but I will continue to try.

We are all human and, though we try our best, make mistakes. I, myself, recently made a horrible gaffe in wishing a widower “Happy Valentine’s Day.” To me, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to say to anyone – not just between couples – that I’m thinking of you and care about you. Although my intentions were good, I goofed up and caused hurt by saying the wrong thing. I was horrified when I realized what I had said and sincerely apologized. It was a good reminder to me personally (concerning people who disappeared after Jason died or said things to us that hurt) to continue to try to extend grace and forgiveness to others who may not have known what to say or do after Jason’s death.

Most people will never understand deep grief…until it happens to them. No matter how often I have tried to explain or promote understanding, some people will never understand. Some have no interest. Some think they have it figured out…for me. Some relate it to the death of their relative, dog, or divorce. They don’t understand that the death of a child is singularly and profoundly the most difficult crisis a parent could face. Some try to understand or try to imagine what losing a child would be like, but unless someone has actually “been there,” it’s just imagination.

Kindness, support, caring, hugs, love – all of these matter. Taking time to remember Jason matters. Writing down memories or sending pictures of Jason to us matters. Letting us know you haven’t forgotten Jason matters. Not feeling forgotten matters. I remember the kindnesses; I work hard at forgiving and forgiving the not-so-good things.

Your address book changes. People may disappear – sometimes right away, sometimes down the line. Sometimes people couldn’t understand why I had changed; they were waiting for me to “get over” my grief and come back as I once was. People got “tired of our troubles” or thought I should be able to move on sooner than I was able. If I didn’t or couldn’t move at their timetable or respond adequately to their efforts to move me on, they moved on without me. One friend who had a decent amount of support following the death of a child said to me, “Now that I’m ready to do things, there’s no one left to do anything with.”

It also took quite a while for people I knew to not avoid or act awkward around me. A bereaved mother told me that it took eight years for people she knew to be comfortable and not awkward around her. One of Jason’s friends, on the first anniversary of his death, wrote the following on his website: “Nobody talks about the Carneys or the Christiansons any more in any kind of normal context; those families are marked.”

If your address book empties, it’s my hope and prayer that new faithful friends bravely step forward to take the place of those who are no longer around. It’s also my hope and prayer that this blog will encourage people surrounding bereaved parents to step up to the plate when help, comfort, support, friendship, love, caring and kindness are so desperately needed. If you have initial and continued support from family and friends, you are blessed indeed.

I am not the person I once was. The death of a child changes a parent forever. My life is divided into the “before” and “after.” The person I was “before” is not the same one who now is in the “after.” Neither I nor those around me should expect me to return to that person or to respond as I once did. Part of the grief process involves getting to know and becoming comfortable with the person I now am.

Wherever I go, my grief goes with me. We sold our house and moved across the country, but the grief of Jason’s death and having his loss be a part of my life was not something I left behind. Running away from grief doesn’t work. Even if one is able to push it down or set it aside for a while, at some point it will rise to the surface and demand its due attention.

Siblings pay a huge price. Not only do siblings lose a precious brother or sister, they may lose their support system. Parents, as they grieve the loss of a child, may no longer be able to be the strong support system on which the sibling could rely. The surviving sibling may feel the need to be strong in order to support his/her parents. Friends may avoid, act awkward, or disappear. At 17, although she did nothing wrong, our daughter paid a huge price for Jason’s death. As Patricia Hung (a police officer whose 14-year old daughter was murdered) commented in response to a previous post, “…our other children were shunned, too, as if they had anything to do with their sister’s murder. It was very difficult when people stopped letting their children play with ours – like being punished AGAIN for something they weren’t responsible for.”

Bereaved parents have to teach others how to help. As crazy as it may seem, even though we were dealing the huge loss created by Jason’s death, I found myself in the position of having to teach other people how to help us. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, especially when we didn’t know what we needed or how to help ourselves many times. I didn’t have any resources concerning being a parent whose child had died. I had no answers. I’m glad to see that there is much more valuable information now – both in print form and online – concerning how to help bereaved parents and those who suffer deep losses. It’s important for bereaved parents to shine a light on the topic of grief.

Take your time in going through and getting rid of your child’s things. I felt pushed to go through Jason’s room and “get rid of” stuff before I was ready. This is one thing I wish I had done differently – on my own time schedule, when I was ready.

Suggestion: Unless there is an urgent need, don’t hurry or allow yourself to be pushed to get rid of your child’s things. Once you get rid of them, you usually can never get them back. If you rush, you may regret your decisions later. When you feel you are ready, purchase a bunch of Rubbermaid-type tubs that seal well and some Ziploc bags. As you sort, put things you want to keep or things you are unsure about into the bags and tubs. Then store the tubs in a garage or safe place. You can then go back later – perhaps even many years later – and make more objective decisions (decisions you won’t regret) on what to do with your child’s belongings.

Exercise helps. Joe and I would take our dog, Brandy, and head out for a walk every so often. It got us out of the house and really helped us to get some exercise and fresh air.

I am also so grateful for my friend Mary who, even though we didn’t really know each other well at the time, kept asking me if I wanted to walk regularly with her. I finally took her up on her offer six months after Jason died. Over time, we became good friends. She saved my life in more ways than one. Not only did our walks give me something to look forward to and a precious friendship, but (because I had developed the habit of taking very shallow breaths in order to deal with the pain and grief) it forced me to concentrate on my health and to force more air into my lungs.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney

94 thoughts on “A Few Things I’ve Learned in the 10 Years Since Jason Died

  1. Thank you for sharing this. At first, my mom and I were very much on the same page in our grief, and we’re still very supportive of one another since my brother died. But I have been noticing that her pain seems to be getting worse now as the first anniversary comes up next month. This made a LOT of sense and helped me understand why she’s feeling the way she is.

  2. The vase illustration is a beautiful one — even as you find pieces to glue back into place, it will never be the same. Shards are still missing; the reconstructed vase-life is still fragile. Thank you for allowing us to walk this journey with you.

  3. Your words resonate strongly with me and you have made very wise observations on how grief changes you and the journey — especially that it takes a long, long time — forever, I think. And that’s ok. I agree with you that it isn’t an “illness” that we must “cure.” Thank you.

  4. Rebecca,
    Love and understanding go out to you as you celebrate the life of your beautiful son.

    Grief is no stranger to me and you are so right when you say grief goes by no particular 5-step schedule or process. Loss, like the love you have, is always there and years down the line, when grief reasserts itself, it can be held at bay by a simple deep breath. I was told to “keep breathing” – this seems to be the key.
    Best to you always,
    Gwen

  5. Rebecca,

    Your family must be so proud of you. Especially Jason. I can’t really put into words how important and how necessary this blog is for others to read. But most of all it’s your personal and private story and you choose to be so courageous and share it with the world.

    Amazing.

    I would like to share it if that’s ok with you.

    Tiffani

  6. I read each word with a clutch at my heart. Your thoughts about “timeframes” seems so true! What would ever make the loss of a child seem less…the loss is just as profound as day one, it’s just that your other comments about how you’ve changed that makes it somehow survivable. Scar tissue is tough! You do make me think a lot about how do I react and live alongside people who have survived, barely sometimes, profound losses. I know I never think they should just get over it, and I know I haven’t walked away, but I think you help show me how to “be” with them. I think of you often, Rebecca, and pray. As the ten year anniversary approaches, I’ll be mindful of that! The picture of the two of you is a precious photo…my how Jason looked like his mom! Sending a warm hug, Debra

  7. Oh my goodness. What a beautifully written account of this huge tragedy in your life. I’m afraid to say anything else … i DO believe you’ve said it all. Godspeed, and i’m so glad you are sharing. I don’t think many people will slap you away, ma dear. melissa

  8. This is a powerful and poignant post. I am impressed with the openness of your heart and mind that allowed you to learn these 10 lessons. May you continue with much strength in your struggle to come to terms with such a terribly difficult loss. Candida

  9. I wanted to say thank you for your well spoken words. I am one week away from the two year “angelversary” of my precious son Trevor John Fox, 11 years 7 months and 14 beautiful days. My mind doesn’t work the way it used to and putting my thoughts into words is a big struggle. Reading your words, I can relate to so much of what you have written. Thank you for helping me find clarity. Becki

  10. Thank you Rebecca. Although it’s only 126 weeks, I am already learning many of those lessons. It helps, in a way, that there are other people who understand. As I’ve said before, I very much appreciate your blog. You reinforce many things that I feel, see and do.

  11. Rebecca,
    This is so wonderfully put. I am going to share it on my blog and my website as a resource, when I get that up and running. It is really helpful to have someone who can put into words exactly what we feel as it really is such a no man’s land. I wish that I had had something like this available to me and my husband when we were early on in our grief. Thank you for sharing this.

  12. Reblogged this on Grief Life Line and commented:
    Today, I am sharing Rebecca’s post about things she has learned in the 10 years since her son Jason died. It is nearly impossible to put into words what it’s like to live with losing a child. I found what she has written to be one of the most coherent and powerful expressions I have come across and I thank her for sharing it. It is not easy to open up like this but in so doing, it can help everyone to a better place of support and understanding.

  13. Thank you Rebecca for:

    -Deepening the value I have for own my children
    -Showing me what mature faith really means
    -Explaining the unexplainable
    -Helping me be a better listener and comforter for others – especially in regards to time

    You – and Jason – have blessed me,
    Vince

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  15. You are so “right on” in the process of dealing with the death of our child. I lost my son, Joe Pearson, in September of 2008. September comes around so soon every year, but as you mentioned, the mileposts along the way are such painful reminders. Christmas, New Years, his birthday in February, Valentines Day…on and on and on. But I have begun, in very small “baby steps” to piece together a life, new and different than the one I knew with Joe. Compassionate Friends has helped so much. I also have some good friends who have also lost a child more recent than I have, and helping them and being there for them helps me. Thank you for your great “wisdom” and I am so sincerely sorry for your loss…for all of us parents who have lost our precious child. Joe’s mom forever – Marci

  16. Rebecca, you speak the truth about losing a child. While we do not share the SAME constructs of faith, we do share faith. I appreciate your comments at mysteryoriley.com. Thank you for believing that death is not the end, and for saying so openly, for writing about the strange and awesome gifts of loss. I have a the same mission, with a similar framework. You are further along this path, and I see parts of myself in you and yours. Thank you, dear heart. I will forever carry your son with mine on this path. The gypsy moths are circling overhead, and they hear our voices.

  17. Quote: ” I have not broken an arm; I haven’t caught the flu. I don’t need to “heal,” “move on,” “find closure.” “turn and face my grief” or whatever similar terminology others may feel a need to present to me concerning my grief and death of Jason. ”

    So well said. Thank you so much for sharing.

  18. I am not sure how or why I found this blog, but I did. Today is the one year passing of a friend’s husband. i wrote about it in my blog today. It looks like you have quite a support system going now and I want to say how sorry I am for the loss of your Jason. I am going to go read more of your posts now.
    bjyork – http://1elocution.wordpress.com

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  21. Dear Rebecca,
    Your post is exquisite. I’m glad you found my site, harvestworker’s door, in that it enabled me to find you. My son, Patrick, died on July 1, 2011. His Birthday is June 22. His wife, two daughters (ages 11 and 14)and I still have this year of “firsts” to face. In 2001 I lost one of my daughters, age 41, to breast cancer. Patrick, age 47, died of a sudden heart attack while in his home.

    No, we don’t “get over it,” we just keep soldiering on, holding on to the precious Grace
    that only God can provide. And in that Grace lie friends, neighbors, church members, facebook friends, people such as you, and on and on. Patrick’s friends on FB wrote such wonderful words to his page, I’ve compiled them into a book for his children. May God continue to comfort, console, and guide you and your family.

  22. We just passed the one year mark. I haven’t written this week. My husband took the week off and though we thought we had plans it has been easy to let them go by the wayside. Thank you for your writing. It echoes things I know and that helps.

  23. Hi Rebecca,

    There is such wisdom in your words. I applaud you for sharing your experience and the lessons of your grief. A good book to read would be James Van Praagh’s “Unfinished Business.” There’s a lot to take in, and all good stuff too.

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  25. Thank you for visiting Justice for Raymond and selecting LIKE. It gave me a link to your site. I am so glad you found me. Your words echo my feelings and thoughts these past four years. It will be 5 years in September and we still have no explanation from the coroner, local DA or police. Thank you and best wishes to you and your family. I do want to re-post as there are other families who follow Ray’s site who can benefit from your post.

  26. Rebecca, since I have been following your blog for a while, I may have offered my sentiments before, but I want to thank you, again, for being able to express the unthinkable in such a clear, honest manner. My son, Andrew, collapsed and could not be revived at the age of 15, in Oct 2006-so I am struggling with year six beginning soon. My cousin, who also lost a son,used to have a group for grieving parents, we called it the club NO ONE wants to join.
    I found what you said in your article “A few things I’ve learned…” to be very similar with what I have endured-the way we are shunned, the inappropriate comments, the frustration those who don’t know feel when we can’t “move on”,the alienation of family, the effect on siblings, on me, as a mom. I struggle with my faith and always will. I am a person who strongly feels when something out there isn’t quite right, and I had “felt” that with my son for many months, I honestly felt God had “sat me down” told me to put my son in His hands and He would keep him safe and me healthy. It didn’t happen.
    I feel like negligence, slow response by emergency workers, the lack of knowledge on sudden heart issues in youth, and of course my own lack of action caused my son to die unnecessarily. That has been particularly hard for me. I found out about an organization called Parents Heart Watch that tries to teach parents, coaches, etc how to react to and prevent these deaths. I found out that few national athletic organizations for youth even required the most minimal of physicals-the YMCA, the National Little League…i have taken a course in using the portable defibrillator, how to take charge and get help if I see someone collapse and talked to coaches and schools.
    If my son had been in the same situation today, there would likely be quite a few people prepared to help him-most importantly-me. It hurts that I could have taken charge when a “nurse”who ran up did nothing,when the person who called 911 didn’t stay on the cell with them to get instructions, that it took an ambulance within sight of the ball field 10+ minutes to find a back road directly to the field, when all they had to do was make a left turn, go down a long parking lot and run down several fights of steps to get to the field..It seems like no one, not God, not me, was there when my son needed them. I know you have felt the same.
    As you know, when these doors of grief are opened, the are hard to close, sorry for the diatribe, thank you for your wonderful ability to share your experience. I appreciate you reading my 100 word challenge “A Special Wedding Day”. It was, in part, inspired by my experience with my son’s death, because his traumatic loss nearly cost me my life as well.
    As you take each moment, week, season, year, without Jason, I will remember you. Beebee

  27. My 37 year old daughter is terminally ill. It frightens me when I read your blog and see how much further my journey is destined to be….. I thought this part of my journey was difficult but it is only part of the journey… Will I ever be happy again?

    • My heart breaks for you. I’m so sorry. I certainly don’t mean for my blog to be frightening or discouraging in any way. I am not and have never claimed to be a professional counselor or any other type of “advice giver.” My blog is written from my own perspective in dealing with Jason’s death and what we walked through following his death. Each person deals with grief differently and on a different timeline. Each person has unique abilities and resources to handle what’s in front of them. I can only write about my own loss, which was sudden, traumatic, and complicated by many other successive losses following Jason’s death. There may be some similarities, but there will also be many differences.

      My goal in writing is to encourage insight for those people surrounding parents who have lost a child – insight into what it’s like to have people pull away, insight into the unrealistic timelines imposed on those who grieve, to encourage those who grieve (and especially those who surround those who grieve) to throw out the myths, preconceived timelines, and the “should’s” that seem to always pop up, to encourage those who have lost a child to allow themselves to grieve honestly for as long as it takes, to encourage those surround those who grieve to extend extreme grace, kindness, and caring for as long as it takes.

      I certainly can’t speak to what it’s like to have a terminally ill child. (There are other blogs written by parents who have lost children to terminal illnesses: e.g. http://memorybearsbybonnie.wordpress.com.) I can only speak to what I have been through and what it was like for me to lose a child to a drunk driver. I’m sure you have already dealt with a lot of anticipatory grief, and I would guess that you already know that it is just a part of the journey. I would even venture to guess that it’s not so much my writing about Jason’s death and my own experiences that is the only thing that is so frightening. It’s got to be terribly frightening to even think about how to face a future without your precious daughter. I’m so sorry. I wish with all my heart all of you didn’t have to walk this path.

      Jason was with us one moment and gone the next. One moment he was taking his friend home from watching movies at our house and the next they were both gone. Was it easy for me? No. Was it short? No. Did I survive? Yes. Am I happy? Yes, I’m happy – although, in all honesty, it is tinged with a just a touch of sadness at times. Do I still grieve? Yes, at times, but not as I used to. How could I not miss the boy that was so much a part of my life and whom I loved so much? He is always in my heart, and I will always love and miss him.

      Your experiences, though, are uniquely your own – as unique as you are. Your strengths, resources, and support system is uniquely your own. You can’t compare your own journey to mine or anyone else’s journey. In reading your blog, you come across as an articulate, intelligent, strong, kind and loving person. Your daughter and grandsons are so fortunate to have you in their lives. You are stronger than you know. You will survive. You will be happy again. Your grandsons will make you smile. Your memories of your daughter will bring a smile to your face. One moment at a time; one day at a time.

      I don’t have a lot of answers, but I want you to know that I care. You are and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs, hugs, hugs, hugs, hugs.

      With hugs and prayers,
      Becky

      • Dear Rebecca, Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me. Your writing does fill me with hope. What scares me is the pain that lies ahead. I fear a life without my child. I fear many more years of pain. You write beautifully and I take solace from your blog. Thank you!

  28. Rebecca…thank you for the comforting words in response to my blog For Those Who Weep. After viewing your site, I see and understand why your compassion is so deep. May God bless you as you offer words of comfort and “knowing” embraces to others.

  29. Thank you Rebecca, I lost my 4 1/2 year old daughter to murder back in 1999. Her birthday is Sept. 15th and she would have been 18. I was researching on long term grief when I came upon your words. So true. I have a new identity and I have moved forward, but it is truly never “over”. I’m not sure I’d want it to be. I know that sound strange, but it’s part of me and my daughter will always be a part of my life and I don’t want to forget. Remembering has it’s price and it’s rewards and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for such great insight!

  30. Like the poster above me, I too was looking up long term grief and came across this page. I lost my eight year old son on April 28th 2001. I was at Walmart and he was home with my deceased ex husband and my daughter when he crossed the road for the first time by himself and was hit by a car. It has been a very long road and I was thankful to see this page you have made as their isn’t a whole lot out there about long term grief. I too wanted my children so badly as I had a terrible time conceiving and both of my children were such miracles. As you said you are a different person now as before and that is so true. I can say that time has helped but of course, you never ever get over it. I have lost my mother, father, two brothers, my ex husband of whom I remain close too. Yet the loss of my son is what is always there, on my shoulder, never going away. And I too would never want it to, though in those first few years I thought I would never say anything like that. The pain was so so great. I do now live with the fear of something happening to my daughter and grandson, she is now 23 and has a son that is 2. I no longer stop and hold my breath when I hear sirens yet I always check my phone. They both live with me and when I watch him I always check to make sure he is breathing at night before I go to sleep. Actually I have never told anybody that because they would think I am too worried but they do not understand nor would I want them to.

    Anyways thank you so much for your page. You have done an excellent job and you have made me feel so not alone.

  31. Thank you for this insightful and beautiful post. My 22 year old daughter died of cancer almost 2 months ago, on September 23. Many of the things you describe are familiar to me, and it helps to know that I am not alone.

    I started a blog because I want to share my experience with my daughter’s journey in her last year, and the heartbreakingly sad and breathtakingly beautiful experience we shared. It helps me to write about it, and share her writings as well.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt writing.

  32. I was looking for some sort of guide for my grief… My son died 9 years ago nov 23rd… He would have been 30 this past October 25th… I don’t know who he would be at 30… The pain does not go away… When ‘events’ occur the pain intensifies,,, I am amble to handle the day to day loss most days now,,, but the intense grief still overcomes me at times… Usually bday and then the day he left us…. I like u felt my world had been hit by a violent hurricane or tornado…. Every part of my life was scattered all over the universe and in order to stay alive I had to find the pieces and put them together… But time after time the piece no longer fit or was lost forever…. I had to create a different puzzle… This one has more pain… And has more appreciation to for life and those that treat it kindly…. Thank u for ur blog…. I was beginning to wonder how I could continue to go forward…. My deepest sympathies to u and ur family… Dina

  33. Thankyou so much for your posts…I lost my daughter nine and half years ago..she would have been 27 years old this month….I feel the need to reconnect with people who can come close to understanding my pain….don’t want to share my sad thoughts with my family and friends anymore…I know they will be there for me ..I just don’t feel comfortable sharing with them anymore…

  34. I just lost my daughter Jennifer 17 days ago. a very happy girl until the last month of her life. I know I’m in for a long scary road. Today was very rough and know I will never get over it. I just wonder how the years will be

  35. Rebecca,

    First, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. I lost my son Mike to suicide a year ago this last week. Some days it seems survival is just a mirage…I will get to where I think it is, but it has moved again…Miles into the distant horizon.

    Another year seems so far away, though I know that the 10 year anniversary will be here in a flash. Hopefully, I can be as much of an inspiration to someone else as this post was to me.

    Thanks,

    Rick

  36. I found your blog whilst researching for my own writing. I lost my 19 year old son James to a drowning accident in 2005… and I tend to write a piece around the anniversary date in July. I find your writing remarkably similar to mine! – it is a gift to be able to express eloquently and from the heart and it undoubtedly helps others who tread this so difficult road that none of us has chosen. Thank you for your honesty and I look forward to reading more of your work.

  37. This was so very well written. I lost my child another way, by suicide, but all of what you wrote resonates with me. The only thing I can’t conceive of is that a parent can survive this. For me the jury is still out on that one. I’m only 4 months into this horrible journey. Surviving this is a HUGE challenge, a life long challenge that I often don’t feel strong enough to go though. May I re-blog? This was filled with so many facts that people who have not lost a child do not know.

  38. Thank you Ms. Becky for sharing your story. My journey on this path began 11 months ago ( in 6 more days ). It has been a journey with many stops and starts- which led me to therapy. People simply cannot understand unless they have been there. I have emptied my address book and filled it again- this time with those that do understand. Without their support, there is no way that I could have come this far. Without words- like yours- there would be no hope for any future. I am still shattered, but cannot cry, cannot let myself feel in longer increments than moments. I have lost many people in my life, but nothing prepares you for the death of a child. Nothing. I am glad to have read your words of pain and growth and hope. Gentle hugs fellow traveler. <3

  39. Thank you for your insights…I just have one thought to share: While we can’t measure the pain or compare because we are individuals there is a difference when a child is sick and dies. Our daughter was fine and healthy and then just gone. My good friend lost her son to cancer. She went through all of the pain that I did, but it wasn’t the shock of loss. We love our kids and don’t want to see them suffer, and while no mother wants to lose her child, we are selfless enough to let them go rather than see them linger in a body that no longer serves them. The shock of sudden loss leaves us reeling…i remember being amazed that the world kept going, because it felt like it should end.

  40. Thanks for liking my post. By doing so, it gives me the opportunity to visit your site and many others. I’m new to blogging and am finding I like this inter-action very much. Thanks for your support.

  41. Thank you so much for this thoughtful and well written description of what it is like to lose your son. I lost my 29-year-old daughter seven months ago. People ask me how I am and I become speechless. All I can actually say is that this has been the most profoundly painful experience in my life as there really are no words to describe it. I decided to send this section of your blog to people who are in my life as a way to educate them about what my husband and I (as well as our children) are going through as we all need education. I speak from my own experience of knowing people who have also lost children. I was really clueless as I compared it to the death of grandparents and parents and friends. I am a fairly empathic person, but I can say that I truly didn’t have a clue about the profound intensity of the grief about losing a child.

    Thank you for writing it.

    • I’m thankful that you felt this was helpful. My heart goes out to you. It’s really hard to understand what it’s like to walk through the death of a child unless you’ve been there. I hope and pray that your friends and family will listen with their hearts as you speak, and that they respond with kindness and consistent support.

  42. Rebecca, it has been a little more than three weeks since our son, Jake died. He was 24. I read some of your post on 10 years on. Some of what you write I have already experienced. Some of the things I know are
    Cingular and instead them. Thank you for your perspective. I will continue to follow your journey with interest.

  43. Rebecca, this is the best I have read thus far on the grieving experiences of a bereaved parent. I am sad for the loss of your son. I notice that you preface the word “son” with “precious”…as I always seem to do when writing about my “precious son.” There is no other word that fits.

    I would like to reblog this. Someone who knows a grieving parent may read it and perhaps learn from it, or maybe know every word of it from their own personal suffering. Your perspective is universal and tells of the similarities that make our truths somehow more endurable. God bless you…..dale

    • No, there is no other word for our sons other than “precious.” Jason was my precious son while he was alive, and he is still my precious son even though he’s gone. Thank you for your encouragement. Of course, you are welcome to reblog. I hope others will find some nuggets of insight in what I write. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • This is true… For some reason they think you can ‘ get past… Move on… Get on with your life’…. Etc.. They don’t get it it… ‘Always bereaved’ says it… Your child is ‘always’ dead so why wouldn’t part of you also be dead… I.e. ‘Always bereaved’.. I don’t understand how they don’t understand…. My son Zach died 11 1/2 years ago… Some days I find joy in the day… Other days seem as if the pain of losing him just happened… I’ve learned to accept my grief… It is one of the only ways to live…. Those that try to make me forget the pain only succeed in making my grief more painful…

  44. My precious daughter died when I hit some gravel on the rd, and lost control of our car, putting us into the path of oncoming traffic. Bryer was twelve years old. The third anniversary of Bryers death is getting closer (9th July), and my hurt and guilt are still so raw. I can’t find the right words right now.
    Except thank you, for letting me know I will survive.
    Xx

    • Toni I am so sorry for your pain. It is not your fault, we are not in control of when our children go. I lost my sweet Laila, also twelve, on March 4 2009 in a skiing accident. Five years have gone by and I miss her every minute of every day. I hope you made it through July 9 ok. All of the anniversaries hover like a shadow weeks before they come, and I wonder if they ever get any easier. I don’t think so. I wish you peace, and hope Laila and Bryer are doing something fun in heaven today. We will see them again. Hang in there and remember that all will be well…

      • Thank you so much for your kind words Linda, I am sorry for your pain also. Yes, I somehow survived another July 9th… I agree with you – I doubt it will get easier. I don’t believe time really heals, I think we just get used to carrying it.
        I want to thank you for writing Bryers name – it’s a treasure I rarely get to hear or read anymore.
        I wish you peace also, and Laila is in my thoughts and prayers. Xx

  45. 18 years since my 7 year old son was killed , being a single parent without support was very hard on me and my other child , I still cry , big hug’s to you and your’s and to those who have lost ,

  46. Thank you, Rebecca. I so needed to read this today. You are right, only bereaved parents really get it. You get it. I’m so sorry for your loss. Since my son Gregory was born sleeping on June 20th, I’ve taken comfort in knowing I’m not alone, that I don’t have to travel this hard journey alone. There are brave souls out there like yourself that are willing to be honest and share their inner pain. It is raw, devastating, and takes so much courage to share. Thank you for having that courage.

  47. What do I say, except God makes life new every morning and goes through all grief with us. I have lost two husbands and five children. My most recent, a son, died a year ago this month from cancer. If it wasn’t for the comfort and Grace of My Lord Jesus Christ, I probably would be a basket case…. I sincerely believe our date of birth and date of death had already been set before we were born by our Creator. Do we please Him by grieving over, why wasn’t “My will be done.” The Lord’s prayer is “thy will be done.” I Love my children as dearly as a mother could love.. They are more so Loved by the GOD who IS Love. Do I blame God for the trials and loss? No, because it is written, “He works all things out unto good to those who love Him.. Has it ever been said, “that our journey here would be easy?” We have a God that lifts our grief and when we remember our loved ones and Know where they are, there is a peace, not as the world gives, but as Christ gives. I will be with them again forever. I have most certainly had my tears and heartbreak , but I also have a Lord that wipes my tears. I refuse to make grief “my god.” I have learned the meaning of this song, “I Surrender All.”

  48. Thank you for “liking” my post, “Forever Fifteen” this morning. We have two sons in their early twenties and I cannot imagine your loss. (Though I guess I kind of tried, didn’t I?) God bless you.

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