A mother's view of grief
I have been thinking a lot about Travis lately. Even more than usual (which is every day).
I am not brave....strong....more courageous than anyone else.
My faith is not greater, my character is not more solid.
I am just an ordinary human being who was living an ordinary life, believing that this could never happen to me or to my family. We were just like everyone else until that fateful day when we awakened to our worst nightmare, Travis has died.
We did not choose this path and when we find ourselves upon it, what choice do we have but to somehow survive. To die - even if I wanted to - is not an option as it affirms the choice that Travis made. So I am forced to find some way to pick up my tremendously heavy grief burden and begin the journey into the land of survival.
A journey that has lasted much longer than I ever imagined.
A journey that will last the rest of our lives.
I did not awaken one day to find closure, acceptance or healing.
I do not "get over it," let go or "move on."
Grief is an agonizingly slow process. It does not happen overnight and for most of us, we will continue to process what happened to Travis for the remainder of our lives.
Once we have been on this path for a while, you may wonder why I still have to talk about it so much?
We who walk the path know that no amount of time can fill up the place where Travis used to be.
The hurt, though it may ease some with the passing of time, is still present and very much a part of my every day life.
I carried him inside my body, under my heart for nine months.
I carried him in my heart and held him in my arms for 30 years.
How can I be expected to be "over" him in just a few days, weeks, or years? How can I be expected to ever be "over" him at all?
His happiness, hopes and dreams were all a part of my life for so long and now they have vanished - but what lingers is the disappointment, the bitter unfulfilled loss that accompanies the realization that all the years he had ahead of him were snuffed out in a single desperate moment that has left me here to ask again and again, why?
Even though he told me of the pain and the turmoil of his last few months of life, I try desperatly to understand.
His smile and laughter were as important to me as the air I breathe and without them, it is a struggle to carry on.
Even though I may appear to get on with the business of living my life, laugh, and talk about other things, I still carry a deep aching sorrow for the loss of my precious son. My sweet loving, tenderhearted boy. So full of joy on the outside - his mask hid his sorrow, despair, and hopelessness.
I miss him every day. I will always love him. He is still my son, even though he is gone from this world. I tell others, Please don't rush my grief or tell me how I should be feeling.
It's okay to talk about Travis, say his name. He may be gone from this word, but don't erase him from existence by refusing to acknowledge he was ever here.
I love when you share a memory of him or type a condolence. It helps me so much to hear he was special to you - that you miss him too. Grief is made less lonely when I know you are thinking of him and sharing your heart felt thoughts with me.
I tell my friends, Don't compare my grief to someone else's. It doesn't matter if your neighbor's cousin's friend lost her son and is doing so much better than me. Grief is as individual as the person we lost. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Please just believe I am doing the best I can - and some days my best is just getting out of bed and breathing in and out.
I say, Please don't use words like wallowing, dwelling on it, refusing to go on.
I will feel the way I feel until my grief changes and I am ready to feel something else, until I have processed every last bit of what I need to process. I will hold onto it as long as I need to because maybe in some ways it is the only way I can still hold on to my child. When I am ready - when I feel it is safe to let my grief change, I will.
I ask everyone, Please don't rush me. If I'm not able to say, "let's just focus on the happy times," it doesn't mean I don't remember the happy times or that I don't still treasure them.
It just means that right now, losing him is still so fresh and my wound so raw that I'm not able to focus on much else.
I have learned that I must pace myself - and carry only what I can handle thru the 24 hour space of each day.
If others are able to focus only on the happy times, I say, good for you, I am happy for you.
I want to ask others , "Please, don't tell me that is what I need to do because maybe right now, I am not able to do that"..
Please don't say to me, "Life moves on, time heals all wounds, he's in a better place."
It's okay not to know what to say -
it's okay not to say anything.
It is the unspoken love,
the presence beside us,
the hands that hold us,
the shoulders we cry on,
the loving letters we receive -
these are the best gifts of all.
We hurt but it helps when you aren't afraid of my tears.
Even if you have suffered a loss similar to mine, you must know...
Each loss is as unique as the relationship of the people involved.
I can only tell you what it has been like for me, you can only share what it has been like for you, but don't be surprised if what we are feeling is, at times, very different, even if we grieve for the same person.
With Travis gone, each day I realize a little more just how much I've lost. Close
Each day I have to remind myself that there are still so many reasons to live - and that by living, I can bring so much honor to his life by never allowing him to be forgotten.
Every day begins when I open my eyes to the realization that Travis really is gone from my life and I face another day of this grief.
Each day ends lying in the darkness, wishing that somehow I could turn back the clock and bring Travis home again.
My life is caught in the ebb and flow of time.
Each wave washing me farther away from the days I spent with him, yet also pulling me closer to the time when I will see him again.
When can I stop looking back and begin looking forward?
When does the passing of time become a friend again, and not an enemy?
I don't know.
I just know this,
I am not brave,
I am not courageous,
I am not strong -
all those words describe Travis not me.
I am just another survivor, refusing to let go even though at times, I feel as if I am barely holding on. Maybe I am holding on to a past that doesn't let me choose.
It's a decision I have to make though - before I begin this journey, I must decide, no matter what -
I have to survive, for Travis and those I love and hold dear.