Between a Rock and a Hard Place – After the Death of a Child: Anniversaries, Birthdays and Holidays

Jason’s birthday is on Sunday. He would have been 36 years old.

I can’t picture him as a 36-year old. He will forever be 19 to me. I don’t know for sure what he would be doing had he lived, although I can imagine – work, wife, kids. I know that, whatever he did, it would have been a life lived with love and joy, a life I would have loved to see.

By now, as an anniversary, birthday or holiday approaches, I have learned to recognize the anxiousness that arises from deep inside of me, the tears just below the surface that seem to have a mind of their own and fall at will, the fight or flight reaction I seem to have in response to stressful situations. Recognizing the approaching emotionally-charged day doesn’t lessen my reaction to it; it just reminds me to be gentle with myself and cut myself some slack.

The thing about an approaching emotionally-charged day that a bereaved parent may be experiencing is that the world still rolls along, and we have to be able to function and cope in that world. Time doesn’t stop for our grief, and grief doesn’t exactly work around our (or anyone else’s) schedule. I can’t sit at my desk at work and cry. I have to carry on and do my job, whether or not Jason birthday or death day anniversary may be approaching. I’ve learned that the days approaching Jason’s birthday and the day he died are usually harder than the actual calendar day itself, but I still have to be able to function in my daily life and then grieve in an appropriate, safe place.

This has been a difficult and stressful week at work, full of fried motherboards and computer glitches galore. I’ve had to sit still for a few moments now and then to concentrate on breathing deeply in order to manage my emotions. What I really wanted to do was drive away to really beautiful place, think about my precious boy, and cry because I miss him so much. That’s not exactly a very practical thing to do in this hustle and bustle world, and is something few people would understand.

“The show must go on,” as they say. And so, I do my best to distract myself and to keep myself occupied with some perceived important task at hand until I can take the time to grieve as I should. I say “grieve as I should,” because it’s entirely appropriate and necessary for me to acknowledge this great loss and to grieve the death of our son, no matter how long it’s been. I will always miss Jason with all of my heart.

I love you, my precious boy, and I miss you.

~Mom

© 2018 Rebecca R. Carney