Another year in the books. As a parent whose child has died, I think I look at the year ahead differently than most people. Since Jason died, I feel like I always have somewhere in the back of my mind a dread, a feeling like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something else to go wrong. I used to be naive and believe I was protected or immune from such disaster and trauma. Now I know the most horrible thing I could think about can happen.
The last year has been difficult, much more difficult than I ever could have anticipated. We started off the year with my husband coming down with COVID on New Year’s Eve. Having had a heart attack, he was considered one of the high risk groups and I was really worried when that COVID test came back positive. Thankfully, he recovered very quickly and, after having one day of fever, was out sweeping the patio the following day.
The year proceeded with me losing one of my jobs and accompanying financial adjustments, Joe being required at his job to work outside in really hot weather and getting really sick from being overheated, watching difficult relationship struggles that broke our hearts and feeling unable to help, ongoing health issues. We still haven’t seen our son and his family in nearly four years. Our grandchildren continue to treat us as irrelevant and we are lucky to get a grunt “hello” when we talk to them.
In recent months, I have lost my older half brother and two cousins. Although I wasn’t really close to any of them, it’s still sobering to have those family connections gone. Death brings such a finality to relationships, no matter how close or not you are. The similarities between the death of my brother and the death of my mom were eery and mind boggling. It made me realize that, having died in the shadow of Jason’s death and the deep, traumatic grief I was experiencing, I really have not dealt with Mom’s death. On and on it goes.
As the year proceeded, we were so excited and looking forward to finally having a home of our own. It represented hope, something to look forward to, a place to settle and put down roots for now. It’s been a mixed bag of good and frustration, a process that has been super glitchy and a punch list – six months in – that still is not completed with no end in sight and words/concerns mostly falling on deaf ears. My expectations were not realistic. I guess needed this to be easy and it hasn’t been. I think I wanted someone to be able to see the great pain inside of us of the things we have walked through and help create a place where I can sort through the physical mementos I have had in storage from Jason’s life and put together some things to honor him, a haven where we could possibly heal a bit. No one can actually do that for another person. No one can heal your grief for you. Life doesn’t work like that.
I am thankful for what we have. I like our house and I am thankful for it. I know that there are people struggling and hurting so much more than we are. Although I struggle at times with feeling hopeful, I know there are those who feel like they have no hope whatsoever.
It took me a while took me a while to get into the Christmas spirit. Christmas always hurts my heart. We ordered a new Christmas tree for our new house. It was missing the wall plug when it arrived. They sent a new plug which was the wrong size. Then they sent an entire new tree. We pulled out Christmas decorations and ornaments that we haven’t seen in so many years. I’m not going to lie – putting the angel on top of the tree that was always Jason’s job reduced me to tears. By the time we got the new tree and got it set up, Christmas was almost here and we barely got it decorated in time for our daughter to arrive for a few days to celebrate with us. It ended up being a good Christmas together.
On this last day of 2022, I peer over the edge into the new year with some trepidation. It’s always difficult to think of starting a new year without Jason. It’s easy to sit and reflect, looking back over the years at broken dreams and how our lives would have been so much different had Jason lived. I’ve always been a hopeful, positive person but feel like I’m running out of years and experiencing diminishing hope.
We’re going to spend today taking the Christmas tree and decorations down. We want to set up a small in-home gym area in the garage and will work on that today, too. Organizing, planning and doing the best we can planning for a healthy, good year ahead and hoping for the best.
As always, missing you, my precious boy, with all my heart. Another year without you, but another year closer to seeing you again.
© 2022 Rebecca R. Carney
Becky, thank you for sharing your grief journey. I have found that it comforts me to be in the company of others who have lost children as they are the only ones who understand our pain. Although, it breaks my heart that others are struggling as I am to find some way to live again. I am coming upon the third anniversary of my adult son’s passing. I have found that loneliness has been a huge hurdle for me. People stop reaching out or talking about my son…it hurts. I, too, have removed family and friends from my life because of their selfish disregard for my family’s pain, and the pain of others. My daughter tells me not to be too hard on them as they have not experienced what we have…no, I disagree. If you truly care about someone, you support them without a deadline. So, I gravitate to those caring strangers, some who are now my friends, who showed me empathy and love, and some who experienced the loss of their own child or close loved one. Grief is our close companion for the rest of our lives. I try to focus on ways to honor my son, and to live my life the way he would want me too. A close friend of my son’s said to me once that we disrespect my son’s memory by giving up and drowning in our grief – we respect and honor him by finding a way to live a good life again. That statement really jolted me and has helped me many times to pull myself out of dark places. Thank you again, Becky, for sharing your grief with us. I hope that you continue to find ways to honor your son and live the life he would want you too. A happy, hopeful new year to you and your husband.
Thank you, Michelle, for writing. I, too, look for find ways to honor Jason. I want to live a life that would make him proud, as I can tell you do for your son, too. I wish a happy and hopeful new year to you and your family.
I look forward to your posts Becky & was pleased to read your daughter came for Christmas. My best wishes to you & Joe for a happy & healthy 2023. I liked Michelle’s comment that “grief is a close companion for the rest of your lives”. So true. I so miss the future with Danielle. I always told her I had her later in life so she could look after me in my older years. I am now there without her. Sad times.
Lots of love, Janice xx
Thinking of you, Janice, as the year turns to 2023.
I can only hope 2023 is better. Peace and light.
…I hope so, too, Gwen…And for you…