Learning

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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.

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  1. There is no timetable on grief, it will come and go when you least expect it.
  2. 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.
  3. Do not compare your journey and your grief to anyone elses. It is different in all its forms.
  4. 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.
  5. You can’t and shouldn’t be expected to shoulder this tragedy on your own.
  6. 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. 
  7. Be kind to yourself, if that means sleeping late, spending the day in your PJs’ or getting a pedicure. Do it!!! 
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!!
  13. 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. 
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.

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3 thoughts on “Learning

  1. Tammy, that is such an amazing summary of what you’ve learned – and written in a way that really shows the complexity of grief, especially a grief as intense as anyone I’ve ever known to lose a child has spoken of….. not being someone who has I can’t say if it’s accurate or not, but I think of other friends I have who have tried to explain it and I think they’d agree with what you said. Thanks for sharing this. I’m sure someone else grieving a loss can find a way to relate and appreciate some of what you’ve said. ❤️

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