Between a Rock and a Hard Place – After the Death of a Child

The thing about the death if a child is that it doesn’t only change one thing…or even a group of things. It changes everything!

The first thing changed, of course, is the huge vacancy left by the departed child. There is absolutely nothing that can fill that void. The whole landscape of a parent’s world has changed; their whole lives have changed. Bereaved parents speak of losing their bearings, of feeling like they are falling down a black hole with nothing to stop their fall, of being adrift on a vast ocean with waves of grief threatening to down them, of losing themselves or of feeling lost, of the world looking bleak and dark. Absolutely everything surrounding a bereaved parent changes. Nothing is the same.

The second thing changed is the people involved. The closer a person is to the child who died, the more that person is changed. As a mother, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am nowhere near the person I used to be. Once strong, I am now broken. Once trusting, now wary. Once open, now guarded. Once hopeful, now struggling with hopelessness. Once easily laughing, now struggling to hide my sadness. Once positive, now skirting the depths of depression. I could go on and on.

The third thing changed is relationships. People disappear immediately or over time. Friends we thought we could count on are no longer anywhere to be found. Meeting new people is difficult, because some of them can’t handle or don’t know how to react to such a loss. Even answering the simple question “How many children do you have?” is tricky. It’s the rare person who comes alongside a broken person for the long haul.

The fourth thing changed is the future. The path of graduations, marriages, grandchildren – all of these change. The assumed path is obliterated, and we have to find a new path to walk – one that will no longer include these events for or with our child. We have to figure out a way to rejoice in the celebrations and events of others while masking our own sorrow at not being able to celebrate these events with our child who died.

The fifth thing changed is our physical being. Energy levels drop. Some people find solace in drugs or alcohol. Weight gain, insomnia, eating too little, eating too much, heart palpitations, hair greying or loss, just to name a few. Grief is a huge stressor on our bodies, so it is a logical conclusion that our bodies would be affected. And, yes, you can die from a broken heart, as recent research has shown.

Another thing that changes is jobs and hobbies. A job or career that once brought satisfaction or fulfillment (or at least was worth working to pay the bills) no longer satisfies or fulfills. Hobbies that were once fun now are fraught with painful memories or no longer hold the same appeal. There is a deep yearning for life to have meaning, and former jobs/careers or hobbies no longer seem to hold much meaning. Bereaved parents look for a new way to find fulfillment. Surely something good has to come from all this pain, doesn’t it? Surely there is something I could do that would honor the memory of our son and his life.

I’m sure there are many other changes bereaved parents experience. We are truly between a rock and a hard place – wishing we could change that moment in time when our child died, all the while trying to figure out how to create a meaningful future. I welcome your input. Hugs to each of you on your continued and changed journey.

~Becky

© 2018 Rebecca R. Carney

 

 

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Weekends

I am making baked beans, one of Jason’s favorites, for dinner tonight on this summer Saturday. It took me a long, long time even to be able to cook, bake or buy things that Jason really loved. Orange rolls for breakfast. Cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. The Christmas before Jason died, he had asked me to teach him how to make cinnamon rolls. It was something he wanted us to do together. He loved baking.

He loved to bake chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes when friends would come over, they would bake cookies together. I always tried to keep everything on hand that he would need. I can still picture him in the kitchen, mixing up cookies, pouring chocolate chips into the dough.

Weekends were so full of doing things with the kids. I’d mix up some pancakes on Saturday morning or bake some orange rolls. Weekends were busy, full. Now they seem so empty.

Missing my boy this weekend…and every day…

~Becky

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

 

 

The struggle is real

This deep, dark, hidden lake of grief inside of me

fills up with gathered tears until they no longer be contained

and they flow over the dam and and down my face

 

I turn up the music on the radio in my car, loud

in an effort to drown out the sadness and regret

that has taken up residence in my soul on this day

 

I struggle to hide behind a mask of self-preservation, grief hidden

unseen by people who have little understanding and even less tolerance

of she who continues to grieve or continues to hurt beyond unrealistic timetables

 

The struggle is real and does not end on this side of heaven

for those misunderstood and judged by those who think they know better

by those who want grief to stay hidden, to be more palatable by swallowing some cliche

 

My heart is heavy today for things that might have been

things that should be, things that will never be

things that I wish with all my heart I could change

 

I miss you with all my heart today and every day

my precious boy, my sunshine, my hugger, my encourager

Jason David Carney, July 30, 1982 – March 3, 2002

 

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

The NOT-Newly Bereaved

I have been trying since the fifteenth anniversary of Jason’s death to figure out how to put into words what it’s like to be this far along on this endless journey of grief…and yet still hurt so much. How one song can take me back to a time before Jason died. How one sight or sound can transport me to a time before Jason died…or to the night he died. We become experts at wearing masks, so we aren’t judged for not getting over the death of our child or not “moving on” by now. The author of this blog has put into words what I have been trying to figure out how to say.

~Becky

Bereaved Parents

Earlier this evening, a gal asked some questions for a group discussion she will be taking part of this week. It stopped me in my tracks momentarily because, quite honestly, I’ve never been asked such questions. Those of us that have traveled this journey for some years are ‘expected’ to have ‘gotten over it’ by now. In the world of psychology, if your grief has continued on past one or two years, they consider it ‘compounded’ or ‘dysfunctional’ grief. They speak of things in which they have no true knowledge.

Nope. It’s plain and simple grief…and all grief is complicated.

We do move forward on this journey and it does change over time, as most things do. However, IT STILL HURTS! No one outside of grief groups asks me about my son. Or, if it’s the first time they learn that I have a son that died, they ask how…

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Poignant Days

There are days when I feel your absence so acutely,

Days that remind me of what was,

Days that remind me of what could have been,

Days that remind me of what I wish with all my heart had been.

This is one of these days, and I miss you so much.

I love you, Jason.

 

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney