Self Care

On March 3rd, 2002, our 19 year old son died when he was broadsided by a drunk driver going more than twice the posted speed limit. In a couple of weeks, it will be 19 years that he’s been gone. Jason would be 38 years old this year had he lived. He’s been gone the same number of years that he lived. It’s just so hard for me to process.

I work with a young man who is 38 years old – college-educated, home-owning, married, two beautiful young kids, his whole life ahead of him. That’s what Jason should have.

Most March 3rd’s, I have attempted to do what I thought I had to do on those days – school, work, etc. I guess I thought if I focused on some type of “normalcy,” the horror and significance of that day would not be quite so much in focus. It never works.

I remember the first March 3rd after Jason died, the first anniversary of his death. I had gone back to school just months before Jason died, furthering my education so I could get a good job after homeschooling the kids for so many years. I don’t exactly remember why I thought I had to be in school that day – a test or something due. I should have just told the teacher what was going on and taken the day off. I remember sitting in a philosophy class, aware of one of Jason’s best friends who was in the same class sitting across the room, both of us lost in the misery of the day. I can’t really remember much about that day except that I trudged through the day in public and cried and cried in private.

I’ve always been very independent. I have had to grieve alone, not through my own choosing. I just don’t think I can soldier through another March 3rd, putting on a brave face as if I am okay. I’m not okay. I’m heartbroken that my boy is gone. 19 years. I can’t believe it’s been 19 years.

I got a massage yesterday. I don’t get massages for the luxury of getting a massage. I don’t go to one of those fancy spas where they serve champagne or mimosas. It’s more of a therapeutic massage to keep me moving physically. My massage therapist and I were talking about how alone and how isolated people have been during the pandemic.

My husband, who is retired, is alone a lot, especially when I’m at work. I worry about him being alone so much, especially since his heart attack. I mentioned how we have lunch together most every workday, and she thought that was so cute. She asked how long we’d been married. I told her that June will mark our 45th anniversary, and she remarked how unusual it was to hear someone being married that along nowadays. It doesn’t seem like we’ve been married that long. We’ve had our ups and downs, as most marriages have, but we have worked through them and still love each other very much.

As she continued my massage, I started thinking about the different significant numbers. 45 years of marriage. My age, Joe’s age, our kids ages, how old Jason would have been, how many years it’s been since Jason died. I was 46 years old when Jason died. It’s so strange how I feel like I am stuck at 46 years old. Life has gone on, but I feel like so much of my life ended then and I am still 46 years old. My body is aging, events happening, time is passing, but I feel stuck at 46.

I’ve been working a lot – one job for two financial advisors in the office and one job for a financial advisor at home on a remote basis. Each has their own business, their own needs and ways of doing things, their own systems and issues that come up. I wake up in the middle of the night at times thinking of work and what I need to do. I like to do things right the first time and sometimes my brain kicks in gear and won’t shut off. I sometimes get up at 3 a.m. or so to take care of whatever I can at home on my computer, just to get it off my mind so that I can go back to sleep. I really do appreciate having a job, especially when so many people don’t. I want and need to keep working until we can figure out what we want to do and where to move.

I had mentioned to my massage therapist that I had been working a lot. I’d even had to cancel my last massage so I could get caught up. As I got ready to leave, she said to me, “Becky, you have to take care of yourself.”

I tend to take care of everyone else first. I always have. I bought clothes or treats or whatever for the kids or Joe before I ever bought clothes or anything for myself. I have taken care of business outside of work hours, even when I’ve been exhausted. I am trying to do a better job of taking care of myself, though. I’m going to take a couple of days off around March 3rd this year and try to figure out how and what we can do to make it a day of celebrating Jason’s life and to make it a time of self-care. I need it.

Take care of yourself. Good advice.

© 2021 Rebecca R. Carney

This entry was posted in Death of a child, Grief, Self Care and tagged , , by Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective

My name is Becky Carney. My husband, Joe, and I have been married for 45 years. We have two living children, Eric (42) and Jenna (37). We lost a baby in utero at 19 weeks in 1987. In 2002, our middle son, Jason (19), and his best friend, Alina (20), were broadsided by a drunk driver who was going at least twice the speed limit. They both died instantly. This blog is written from my perspective as a bereaved parent. I don't claim to know what it's like to walk in anyone else's shoes. Each situation is different; each person is different. Everyone handles grief differently. But if I can create any degree of understanding of what it's like to be a parent who has lost a child, then I have succeeded in my reason for writing this blog.

11 thoughts on “Self Care

  1. Great idea to take off March 3. My son will be gone 5 years in August. I don’t think of him as gone; I think of him is having moved ahead to the place we will all go. Waiting to greet me with a smile, hug, and grand tour of my new home upon my arrival. It makes me smile through my tears to anticipate that day. Unfortunately when people tell me what their sons or daughters are doing, I generally don’t share that my son is living happily and productively in that next world. People don’t seem to fully believe it and I don’t want them feeling sorry for me and thinking I am a little crazy. Wish I could talk about it more though.

    • Hugs and ❤ your way JaneK – – you are protecting others much as many of us do – (this June, is my 13th anniversary of my son's passing). I found many of my relationships changing in the days/weeks/years after he passed – – and often, I think, "to say/not say? which?" because there are folks who hear and realize, some of the daily stress of being a parent is melted away, because they grasp the enormity of 'but what if he wasn't here to drop his socks on the floor?" and others? Just get upset and cannot bear the thought of such a thing happening to them – and well – – here's hoping you find people you CAN talk to about it — when you want/need to – for me? If folks can't bear to know that 'portion' of me, well, then, they aren't in my 'get's all of me in effort' and I just maintain what I need to for biz/community/family – but I am no longer fooled by it – – there is a part of me that holds back in OTHER areas, because they can't deal with one portion of me – :). ❤ and hang in there!!!!

  2. Hi Rebecca, it will be ten years this August since Eva died. She only lived for ten months so the time that she’s been gone has been so much longer already than the time she was here. I remember when I moved into the ten months one day after her death. It was surreal but also in the first year of deep deep grief. I’ve been reading your posts for years. You’ve always been so far ahead of me in your grief journey it has felt like. But now I am about as far along as you were when I first started reading you. And I still feel like a grief beginner. I think it’s a feeling that never leaves. Andnthat idea of being stuck in our age when our child dies. It’s hard to believe I am 43. I feel like I am forever 33. And yet, like you, I am aging. Gray hair is permeating the brown. My other kids are teens instead of toddlers and the 2 babies born after Eva’s death are in grade 1&2. We are on the homeschooling Journey you were on in your past. I see many similarities in our lives. thank you for continuing to post as the years go by. ❤️

  3. 13th Anniversary coming up for me, in June – – he would be 31 now – his brother will turn 23 a few short days later. I was numb after the initial adrenaline rush to do the Celebration of Life party for his peers and friends (because school had just been let out – no school grief counseling available to his sphere of connections) and the funeral – then I went into deep numb – – I realized it and any time I tried to ‘reach into myself’ where enthusiasm, joy, etc., could be found, all I found at the first boundary was such pain, I retreated and decided to ‘wait’ – a year later, a friend invited me to a group she had been meeting with – just general support group – and everyone went around the circle and told their ‘story’ each of which I DID intellectually care about – but couldn’t really get my emotions to respond – (they were still frozen in the fortress of solitude, because to open up one area meant a flood of pain and I wasn’t ready to fully dig into it/experience it). – Sigh – I didn’t take a turn, cuz I’m just a guest there with my friend, but after everyone else had told their story, and I showed words/brain support/empty empathy that I didn’t feel (BUT TA-DA! I managed to ‘say’ the right things so the others felt supported!) the ‘group leader’ turned to me and said, “welcome – I know your friend brought you because she loves you and will you share your story with us?” – so I did – it was both rather amazing and shaming to me – – most of all, I remember the couple who were struggling with marriage issues – – while I told my story and said, “I just wish I could find something I could get excited about, but to access that, I have to wade through the sharp pain and I can’t bear to do that yet…” – while I was talking, that couple instinctively reached out to hold each other’s hands, and they were the first to speak, after looking at each other and the wife said, “You go first” to her husband – – they both said, “We feel bad we were complaining. we have such small things going on and we can’t even imagine losing one of our children and thank you for sharing, because really, we can do this, together, on our stuff” – Me? I apologized for somehow demeaning their share just through my sharing – – they said, ‘no, no! REALLY! Thank you!” and all I heard was “thanks for one upping us and making us look like whiners” – – It took me three years to figure out that I didn’t accept their caring/love shown, because, I had been called a whiner, ‘that’s in the past, live for the future’ for so long, I couldn’t really hear/accept what they were really saying – – I passed going to that group ever again with my friend, for fear I was just hurting others. I had been batted around on that front, with others in my circle at the time of his passing, for so long, it was just another layer to work through, years later – – Thanks for listening – and well – 45 years! That’s awesome! during my ‘fine, I’ll deal with it via my brain” I learned that in USA, 83% of couples divorce after the death of a child – – took me 3 years to realize, I wanted a divorce long before my son died, but spent 3 additional years ‘trying’ because, I didn’t want to just be a statistic…. Layers of things – so many layers – to work through as one feels able to do so without getting lost in it – Sending you ❤ and hugs for March 3rd and see you taking it 'off' as just another step in the process you feel ready to 'tackle' or 'walk through' – ❤

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