From my journal dated July 19, 2002:
I remember the year the tree fell on the house we were renting in Bellevue on Inaugural Day 1993. We were “houseless,” staying with people and trying to find a house to buy. We made a bid on a house and it fell through. We looked and looked and looked for a house. We didn’t whine about it or complain; we just went about our business of trying to find a house. But by summer, we were still without a place to live. At one point, Eric said to me, “People are getting tired of our troubles.”
It’s very true. People don’t want you to struggle. They want you to be okay. SOON! NOW! They want you to be okay now! “Okay” is a much more comfortable place to be…and the sooner the better. If you do have problems, you’d better get them solved soon…or, if you are a Christian, you are deemed to not be trusting God. They get tired of your troubles and move on.
I’m not condemning. I’ve been there. I hope to God I’m not like that any more. I know I don’t have a great deal of patience, but I don’t want to be like that any more. We need to have a heart of compassion for one another and “not be weary in well-doing.” Remind me, God. Help me to remember.
People say to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” Well, I don’t know I do it, either. I don’t think I’m doing it very well, whatever it is I’m doing. I’m shutting down toward other people…and I’m sure it’s not going to help any of my relationships at all in the long run. I don’t want to fall apart in front of people…and I don’t want them to hurt me any more. I don’t want to have expectations of friendship and help…and then nothing comes of it.
It’s such a struggle for me to not feel hurt and bitter. I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to get stuck here and end up a bitter person. I have to figure out a way to forgive them. It might help if they realized it, said they were sorry and asked me to forgive them. Then there would have to be a change.
Pamela* apologized for not being here for me, realizing we had no family. I was so grateful that she realized it and said something…but that was almost two months ago, and I haven’t heard from her since.
I still haven’t heard from P.B.* [I had called the wife of Jason’s soccer coach whose child had died in a fire.]. Maybe she didn’t get the message…or maybe she doesn’t remember me. I just thought she could help me a little – pray for me with an understanding of having been there, comfort me with the “comfort she’s been comforted with.” Maybe it’s not meant to be. Maybe nothing helps.
If there is one thing I could communicate to those around a bereaved parent, I would say, “BE THERE!!”
Do: Be there! Say something! Stay around! Listen! Hug! Care! Cry! Remember – birthdays, anniversaries!! Help in practical ways! Try and try again!
Don’t: Don’t judge, don’t rush the bereaved parent, don’t disappear. Don’t quote platitudes, don’t try to “fix” the griever the way you want them to be fixed. Don’t give up.
Losing a child is a very difficult thing, to say the least. It takes a long time to integrate the loss of a child into life…you have to create an entirely new “norm”, a new life, a new framework of viewing/doing everything. You have to learn to live without your child. Jason was a part of our lives for nearly 20 years. It’s not reasonable to think that we would “get over” his death quickly, that it would not be a struggle to reconcile ourselves with the death of our precious son! How long do you think it would take to learn to live without one of your children?