Today is my “anniversary of the heart.” My son Jason, who died in 1992, would have been 26 years old today. He never grows any older. Forever, he remains frozen in time for me at the age of five.
Below is a link to my story about a special song of mine called “Every Season.” This song was the very first completely new song that I composed after rediscovering my music at the age of fifty. Originally, I named my song “Every Season You Come Back To Me,” but later on I decided I preferred shorter titles.
I recently recorded a new vocal for my song. Below is a link to my story and song:
A few days ago, I received a beautiful card from my brother and sister-in-law. I am so touched how they remember this day every year. My mother used to also send me a card, but dementia has stolen her awareness. When I was married, anniversaries of the heart were not mentioned between my husband and I. He hated dealing with anything related to grief, so I never brought up that it was the obvious day of pain. Sometimes, I even wondered if he remembered or not.
There are many “triggers” that can cause me to become emotional at this moment. Going through a divorce and having eyesight issues have left me vulnerable. But my sentence below is huge and absolutely true.
After twenty years, I am certain that I have healed from grief over the death of my son.
About two months ago, I attended a funeral for the mother of my close friend, Cheryl. Cheryl died five years ago from breast cancer and I did not attend her funeral in Cleveland. I felt grief on that day, because it was an opportunity for me to remember my dear friend as I listened to beautiful tributes about her mother.
The cemetery for this funeral was the same one where Jason was buried. I decided to take a quick walk to visit his grave before the casket was lowered for Cheryl’s mother. Jason’s grave was at the bottom of the hill and I gingerly walked to find it. As always, I caught my breath to see my son’s name carved in stone. But inside, I felt peaceful and accepting.
There was a lovely breeze surrounding me that day. As I walked back up the hill to rejoin the funeral, I felt Jason hugging me. Cheryl was holding me, too.
I have tremendous compassion for people who are grieving. I frequently write messages on grief forums to instill hope. Many people are absolutely certain they will live out the remainder of their life in anguish.
My messages always affirm that healing is possible. I understand the resistance I often encounter to my optimism, because when I was deeply grieving it seemed remote. But I always held onto hope. Hope kept me going.
To shed more light upon this, I share below some of the responses of grieving mothers on a Facebook site. A newly bereaved mother posted two questions. I have copied some of the replies out of hundreds (listed in blue below). 99% of them echoed these same feelings:
Her questions were:
How long did it take you to accept that your children are gone? And for you to get back to life to live again and be happy?
Never! I will never ever be happy until I’m back with son again.
It’s 7 years since I lost my daughter. I will never be happy again. My life was over the day I lost her. I miss her so much.
It will never happen!
I still have a hard time accepting my son is gone and everyone is different. To move on is hard for me and that is why I am in therapy and take meds.
No one can tell you when it will be normal again, but for me I will never be whole again because of that big hole left in my heart that can never be filled.
I don’t think we will ever be truly happy again.
I accepted it the day my daughter died and the day I buried my son. You have to keep on living. They wouldn’t want us to stop. You just have to live one day at a time. I can’t be completely happy, but it does get a little easier to cope. I’ve tried, but when two of my children died I think half my heart died, too.
I haven’t and I never will.
6 years on from the murder of my 25-year-old son and I still can’t accept that he has gone. I will never be happy again until I am with him.
You never do, you learn how to live with it!
I think that if I ever truly accepted that my daughter was gone, that would be the day I would totally go insane. I have to hold onto the fact that she is with me or I can’t make it. I have accepted the fact that I will never be “happy” in this life again. This is my life now and I live it one day at a time.
Below is my answer to the question on Facebook about acceptance and happiness after losing a child:
Although it is unimaginable that you will ever heal from the death of your child, do not give up hope. It is possible.
I don’t speak for anyone else, but it happened for me. I never believed it would when I was suffering.
It has been 20 years since my 5-year-old son died. I accept his death; I am at peace with it.
Acceptance does not mean I love him any less. For decades, I died inside to be closer to him, but it did not bring him back to me.
It is true that you learn to live with it; there is little choice. It is a horrible adjustment and I carry scars from the amputation of my soul. I can easily remember the pain. I picture my child’s death as if it happened yesterday.
But happiness is possible.
It just isn’t comforting to tell yourself that you will never be happy. That is a powerful message. It stays in your subconscious and causes you to remain in a state of suffering. Your dead child loves you and that love translates to trying your best to survive and live your life carrying that love. Your child does not want you to suffer!
The best message you can tell yourself when you are anguished is that someday it will be easier. You will be at peace and the sun will shine again. Never give up hope!
Below are my exchanges on an Internet grief forum. My words are in brown:
We’re told not to worry about tomorrow. We know that worry is not productive. Yet, when child loss enters our lives, it’s as though the bottom dropped out and our trust in good things happening to good people who try to do their best dropped to the bottomless pit and worry came flying up to the top of our minds! Losing a child means that anything — absolutely anything — can happen to us, and that causes our hearts and minds to swirl around and around with worry. Our faith suddenly needs props to hold us up. We feel so weak and so vulnerable. We sit awake dreaming up every possible thing that could happen. Why? Because we now know what it feels like to have the very life sucked out of us and we are constantly hoping, praying and yes — worrying — that we never go through a pain like this again!
I am still waiting for one day of peace …
I cry reading this. But your last line is hopeful, which I am certain will lift you through this hell. I try to hold onto things that are helpful.
I believe this tenant from hypnotherapy of: “The more you look for something, the more that you will find it.”
Statements of: “It will never get better” and “I will feel this way forever” generally are not comforting at all. But when we are grieving – it is certainly easy to go there. Your last line of waiting for peace, therefore, is extremely positive and beautiful. It says a lot and is very helpful for you.
But right now, your soul has been amputated and you are bleeding out. Peace is elusive and unbelievable while you are in horrific pain.
Set the bar a little lower. A day of peace is too much to expect right now. I will wish for you a single moment.
It will come – trust me.
“The more you look for something, the more that you will find it”…. I am aching, I am reaching out, I am yearning, I am looking for…my son!
That’s understandable because he’s been stolen from you. You’ve lost a piece of your soul. No doubt there is yearning and aching. You will find your son. He will appear to you in a different form in your life. It will happen someday, trust me. With grief, our life can never be what it once was.
You will find a new existence. But it is awful when they die and we die with them. It feels like that is the only way to be with them.
You are still alive, but it is too hard. I remember the pain well. I have few words of comfort because telling you it will get better doesn’t help at the moment.
I am crying for you because I’ve never forgotten how awful it is. I am so sorry.
If anyone were to ask me how I am, I would tell him or her I am under construction. I feel like Humpty Dumpty. I have shattered into a million pieces and nobody can put me together again… except me. The pieces are hard to realign with my shattered soul, and each one takes a toll on my heart, but little by little they find their place and hold.
The other night I lay awake, as I usually do, thinking of how broken my life is now and suddenly I had the feeling of a lid settling over me and snapping into place. Odd comparison I know, but it felt that way. When I heard the click of it settle I actually sighed because I understood. I understood suddenly that this was meant to be. That my son’s journey was meant to end here and it was OK. He was fine and happy and we were meant to go on without him. It was a wonderful moment of realization and I marveled at its simplicity.
Then just as suddenly that lid was yanked off and all the pain and grief that it kept out came pouring in on me again…. with a vengeance. I sobbed for hours and tried to find that peace again but have not been able to. I know it is out there; I just have to continue this journey and reconstruct my life. It has not been easier but harder, much harder. The anger is still there. The resentment is still there. The shock of it all is still there. It has been nine months since my soul has been ripped apart. Nine months and I still wait for him to call or walk through the door. I miss his wonderful personality. I miss his sense of humor. I miss his joy in living. I miss him.
Whenever you write, I cry for you! I don’t know what to say. Your words are a perfect description of what I also experienced.
Grief is definitely a journey and you are realizing things that took me far longer to understand. Perhaps that was because I pushed grief aside for many years. Grief that is “unaddressed” is waiting for us later in life. I learned that.
You are facing your grief head on. I know you cannot see the inspiration in your words. There is so much hope for you and you will help many other people with grief someday. I am certain of that.
You will always miss your son and wonder. The pain isn’t forgotten. But you will find another life beyond this. The hardest part is surviving the agony until you get there.
Judy, I certainly don’t feel like an inspiration…. at all. I feel like a hot mess.
A few weeks later, the woman whom I corresponded with above wrote to someone else. She responded to the message below:
I have really been down since my wife died. I don’t know how to ever get over it.
This was what she wrote:
I am so sorry for your loss. You have taken the first step…..sharing your feelings with someone. We all know the grief you are experiencing. We all know this journey.
Continue to share here and the many voices of those that have traveled this road before you will help guide you.
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