I have always been a learner, prided myself on being a lifelong learner. If money were no object, I would be halfway to a PhD by now, but alas the financial constraints, coupled with the reality of what does one do with a PhD except teach, and teaching has never been high on the list of things I want to do. What I have learned in the past 15 months is that learning comes in all forms, it doesn’t always require books, chalkboards, or professors. Just as much can be learned from the “School of Hard Knocks”, which has taught me some serious lessons in these last months.
There is no timetable on grief, it will come and go when you least expect it.
Grief doesn’t follow any specific rules. Somedays you will be a faucet, and other days you will be able to hold it together, like a normal functioning human being.
Do not compare your journey and your grief to anyone elses. It is different in all its forms.
If someone offers to help, let them. Whether it is an offer to pick up dinner, take you to lunch, or pick up the Death Certificate.
You can’t and shouldn’t be expected to shoulder this tragedy on your own.
Some days you will be immensely sad, others you will be angry, and others you will giggle for no apparent reason. Just go with it.
Be kind to yourself, if that means sleeping late, spending the day in your PJs’ or getting a pedicure. Do it!!!
Understand that grief can manifest as crazy physical symptoms, pain that you can’t understand, the need for way more sleep than you ever expected, or way less sleep. Just realize that these things are most likely temporary and fleeting.
Surround yourself with people who understand, understand your grief, your need to tell your story and the idea that this pain won’t vanish within a prescribed period of time.
Get help!!! There is absolutely nothing wrong with Therapy. Having someone to talk to that doesn’t take sides, that won’t tell you that you are crazy or overreacting (or will tell you when you are wallowing) is a valuable tool.
Acknowledge that the pain of losing a child is singularly the WORST thing that you will go through in your life, but at the same time realize you are still standing, and put that part to good use.
Figure out a way to honor your child’s life. Whether it is by starting a scholarship, or doing something so their death wasn’t in vain. As Nike says, JUST DO IT!!
Do NOT self medicate, burying your pain in alcohol or drugs won’t fix the problem, and once you are no longer drunk or high. The grief and sadness will still be there.
Don’t engage in the what if’s. Cremation over Burial, Organ Donation vs Not, Too much time spent on life support. Those were your decisions, your reality, your choices. No one elses to make.
If you believe in God, and that gets you through, then so be it. What little faith I had was shaken to the core when Connor passed. No amount of faith or belief in a “God” is going to heal my heart. After the loss of a child you never completely heal. My family, and friends will get me through this, but not a “God” that I can neither see, or feel or touch, but that is just me.
Most of all understand and accept that having a child is nothing short of letting your heart walk around outside your body, and having minimal control over it. Cherish the memories and the pictures, cry when they make you, laugh when they are silly, and just know that you are doing the best you can in that moment.
Mark and I went to the Camping and RV Show at The Big E Fairgrounds today. There was everything there, from pop-up campers to $250,000 Diesel Pusher Motorhomes and everything in between. We walked up and down the aisles, climbing in and out of ones that interested us. Or ones that were just exciting, and maybe a little different, a color scheme we hadn’t seen before or a different layout.
We quickly ruled out the pop-ups (I need a bathroom), as well as the triangle shaped hybrid travel trailer/pop-up campers. They are way too claustrophobic in my mind.
From the time I met Mark, camping (in a trailer) has been a part of our life. Our summer vacations were spent at the beach, that didn’t change when Kyle and Connor came along. They just became campers too, riding there bikes all over the campground, crabbing with Mark, boogie boarding in the waves, toasting marshmallows in the campfire and staying up way past their bedtimes.
While walking in and out of those trailers today, I swore I could hear him in my ear “Mom, this one isn’t big enough, it doesn’t have bunks. Where are Jordan and I going to sleep? We like the beach too you know!!” More than once I turned around, he wasn’t there, there was no one there, but yet I know what I heard. There will never be a time that I don’t think he is with me, a time that I won’t carry him with me.
Today is 15 months, 15 months since I made the decision that no Mom should ever make. The decision to let him go, because he would never be My Connor again. My silly, crazy, sarcastic, loving young man. It doesn’t mean that a day goes by that I don’t think about him, or miss him.
Off I went to the orthopedist yesterday and to run some errands. Just a typical day off Friday for me. As I was driving down Main Street in Greenfield, my music cranking away I glanced to my right and I felt like my heart stopped. There getting into a little gold car was Autumn. But no it couldn’t be Autumn, I blinked and when I looked again she was in the car. My brain kept saying that wasn’t Autumn, but my eyes were arguing yes it was, we know what we saw!!
The traffic started to move so I kept going and in the lane next to me was his car, that black Mazda 3i Sport, with a young man driving, a young man with a ball cap and sunglasses on. I see his car everywhere, usually with a young man driving and it always makes my heart stop. I always want to tell the driver to get out of Connor’s car.
But this time I just knew, knew that he sent me the sign. That wherever he is, he and Autumn are together. They are ok, they are rocking it up there. It sure doesn’t make it any easier, and by the time I got to the lights at Main and Federal Street the tears were streaming down like a river. Running faster than I could wipe them away, luckily it was a day without makeup. Because it would have all been gone anyway.
I wish I could say that after 15 months the pain was less, but I would be lying if I said so. It is just less acute and I can do a better job of keeping it under control. Then there are times like yesterday where all that goes out the window.
Before I felt comfy publishing this post I reached out to Autumn’s Mom for permission. Permission that was granted, we chatted about our common loss, and about how Autumn really adored Connor and his death hit her hard. Things that I didn’t know, that he was kind and nice to her, when at times others weren’t. It made the tears run all over again, learning that he was the boy I raised. Makes me miss him so much. This pain is like a carnival ride, up and down, twists and turns and parts that take your breath away, coupled with the calm sections just before the drop offs that make your heart and stomach rise up into your chest.