Below is correspondence with my friend, Sam:

Judy, when you said that the grief is like a scar and changes you as a person…does it have to be like a car wreck? Usually a car wreck only makes you worse!  But can grief change you into a better person? Maybe that is the ultimate challenge in dealing with tragedy.

I understand that Compassionate Friends was like a little bandage on a big wound…is there anything that can be done to make the bandage bigger?…Sam

Hi Sam,

Yes, Compassionate Friends was a little bandage on a big wound. And here’s the sad part – some people won’t access the bandage. They are not willing or able to share and listen to others. I think especially, men are more stoic. It wasn’t like we didn’t have men at meetings – there were quite a few. But divorces were ridiculously commonplace. I think the percentage was 95%.

I did think of something that could make the bandage bigger. I have written more for another post.


Ps. Once again, thanks for your thoughtful questions.

I must preface this by explaining my words I wrote on the prior post:

“I devoted myself to remembering my dead child. I memorialized him by giving all the love in my heart I had for him to my family, to those who were alive in my life – my children, my husband, and my parents.

My bigger bandage was to go on and have more children.

It was not a replacement – there is no replacement ever!

Perhaps this was so important for me – it was the reason that my second post after my blog’s introduction was about this.

I must preface my message by saying that this was my personal choice. This belief is mine and no one else’s!

I originally hesitated to share this because there are people who have lost a child and cannot consider this option. However I’ve decided to share it because there is a message that I believe is applicable to anyone grieving and that is my goal!

My message is this:

I was able to honor the memory of what I’d lost, by giving all my love to others.

A good friend of mine adopted a stray kitten after her beloved cat of twenty years died. She did not do it immediately.

I think that is a good example of what I am suggesting.

As far as the analogy to a “car wreck” goes, unfortunately deep grief wrecks lives.

I believe there is a sense of unfairness to the loss of someone who didn’t get a chance to live a full life (and that includes an infant, stillbirth, and miscarriage). Everyone dies, but when it happens before someone even had a chance to experience a full life – perhaps that is where so much of the sadness lies.

However, there is certainly grief with losing anyone, even someone older.

I have grieved for other things in my life besides the death of my son. With autism, there is also the issue about unfairness for the additional hurdles in life.

However, I never want my scars to define me.

Coping with those scars were easier for me when I became less focused on why the accident happened and more focused on how I could compensate and adjust.

Unfortunately, like a car wreck – accidents happen. And there are no seatbelts for grief either!

There was a reason that I named this Post “The Amputation of my Soul – Part 2”

I plan to share my grief writing here word for word. It describes exactly how I felt after the death of my child.

(I don’t know when this was written)

Dear Jason,

I have refused to write until this moment about you. In my past, I’ve learned from pain – I’ve created beautiful songs and I’ve grown from what I thought were painful experiences in my life.

Now I cannot write. I’ve been so eloquent but I fell unable to make any sense. There is nothing inside of me anymore. This pain of losing you has me barren and wasted.

It is springtime and the green has become the same grey as winter. I heard your voice on tape today – is it a curse to have the ability to bring you close to me again? I want your tender body and cheek to lie across me – to hear your chirping voice. Your freckles and your uniqueness are hard for me to let go of. But I wish I could when the pain of your death engulfs me.

I was a naïve, youthful woman when you came to me. Your taught me so much about being a mother – but oh, how I expected to teach you about life. I was so wrong about that. You’ve left such an imprint that it’ impossible not to miss you so much.

Will this pain ever stop? It just occurred to me that this letter is really just to me. Maybe that’s the first step – I know you’ll never see this. If you could – you would know about all the pain I’ve felt. Especially when I wake up in the morning – my first thoughts are that Jason is dead, he’s decomposing in a grave only a mile away, and how I wish Jason would appear next to or lay on top of me – one last time. Not that there were no goodbyes – you were just too special to leave. Are you okay? I took care of you those 5 years and you really did need me. How I miss your needing me. How much I miss you.

This letter below was written a year and a half after my son died.

Dearest Jason,

It has been a year and a half since you were abruptly pulled out of my life through death. Sometimes I’m so relieved that life still holds promise compared to the agony during my first year of bereavement. Remarkably, there are periods of time where the pain leaves briefly. Yet, when it returns it is always a reminder of the initial anguish.

The pain returns when I have those flashbacks and I see your pale face in death. I wonder why the only death I’ve ever visually experienced had to be my very own beautiful, first-born child.

The pain returns when I’m reminded that had you lived, your life would have been so difficult – you would have suffered and I would have borne your suffering as much as possible. The pain cuts deeper when I realize that I still wish you had lived.

The pain returns when there are holidays, family outings, and fun times (where you belong), and your name is never mentioned. Except for my veil of sadness, it’s as if you never existed!

The pain returns when I see pictures of myself before your death. I see a stranger – someone youthful, happy, and completely different.

The pain returns when I long to feel, smell, and hear you. But there isn’t a sign of you – even in my dreams.

The pain returns when I’m driving and I remember all the times you sat next to me. The tears burn hot when a song plays and speaks about my loss.

The pain returns when your father and I cannot share our grief and the abyss created makes me feel lonelier in the pain.

The pain returns when I search for freckles on a young face – but it’s not your face anyway.

The pain returns when I know I’m less than an upbeat mother. It can’t be positive to talk about death so much. Where is the laughter fun, and singing?

The pain returns when I’m told how lucky and fortunate I am to have my other children. I don’t feel all that lucky – is it too much to have been lucky enough to still have you too, Jason?

I guess there’s still so much pain. Sometimes I try to ignore it, but I can’t when it jumps out and stabs me in my heart.

I feel better when it’s a beautiful, radiant day. I appreciate the scenery and I imagine you’re soaring free.

I feel better when your brother’s peals of laughter sound like you’re here for a moment.

I feel better when I hold your new, baby sister. I always imagine you’ve coached her between your death and her conception. She will always have your magic and none of the torment.

I feel better when I realize I’ve made special friends as a result of my bereavement (and theirs, too). I have a deeper compassion and understanding than ever before (causing me to cry even when watching a Hallmark commercial!)

I feel better when someone tells me how they still remember you. It helps to know you’re in other’s hearts, as well, and that your short life created positive imprints – not just the sadness for those that adored and loved you most.

Your mother always, Judy

Jason Unger died 10/6/92 following unsuccessful heart surgery. He was five and a half years old. He would have been seven on 5/28/94.

© Judy Unger and 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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  1. Lori says:

    Judy, I love that you wrote about subsequent children. Do you remember when Dave and I saw a therapist right after Matthew died and she told us not to have another child because I was trying to replace my dead child? Thank god, I never listened to her! Katie brought us so much joy in such a horrible time in our life. Although she never knew her brother, she knows every detail of his life from us and I love when she talks about him.

    I just got finished reading your blog on grief! It was amazing! You wrote from your heart and I hung off of every word. Your words are exactly how I feel and I bet the majority of bereaved parents feel the same way. It was like seeing all my thoughts put into words. I read and reread what you wrote several times. It gave me chills knowing you wrote “Alone” when you were only 17 years old, not knowing what was to come.

    If it’s okay with you, I would like to share some of your writing with friends, who although never lost a child, stuck by me through my grief. Even though they were always there for me, I never was able to express to them how I really felt. Since my journey through the grieving process is so similar to yours, I would like them to read it so they could have a better understanding of what bereaved parents go through. It will be interesting to hear their thoughts.
    Love, Lori


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