Song Of Cy: Understanding Grief
**Unedited Version-to be pub. Oct 2005**
CHAPTER TWO (Excerpt)
The pain of losing a loved one, whether spouse, child, parent, sibling or friend, can be the a debilitating pain. Losing a child can be the most severe suffering one can ever undergo. Such is the power of grief. It can take over your life and become the centerpiece pushing everything else to the side or to the back. The pain can be overpowering and incapacitating. It can be agonizing. For the most part though, the feelings of grief are normal.
As parents, we are drawn to one another and make a connection -- we are part of an exclusive club. Not because we want to be, but because we have to be. We understand each other and the chest-crushing, gasping-for-air, dizzying pain we all endure. We share the anger and the heart-wrenching guilt, and we know that there is no one else who could possibly understand how it feels.
We are lost, zombies going through the motions, totally confused and wondering how the sun could continue to rise and fall without our babies on this earth. We, as parents don't understand how people continue their day-to-day life as if nothing has changed -- as if the whole world is not inexplicably different now. We are parents whose children have died.
Facing the death of a child is probably the most difficult event in a parent's life. People who have lost a child have stronger grief reactions with more anger, guilt, physical symptoms, greater depression, and a loss of meaning and purpose in life.
It has been said that parents who lose a child also lose the hopes, dreams, and expectations they had for that child. They lose a part of themselves. They lose their future because their child represents their sense of ongoing life.
After all, when we have children-we have them to not only love but to carry on a part of us. Who we are as people, our ancestry-our life is lived on through the next generation, our children.
Psychologists believe, because of these reasons, the death of a child is possibly the most difficult loss of all to accept by anyone. People who have children often feel that parenting is lifes most important role, regardless of the childs age. Therefore, the death of a child can be a tremendous assault on a parent's very identity.
A loss is tragic at any age, but the sense of unfairness of a life unfulfilled magnifies the anger and rage felt by parents. A longer and slower bereavement and recovery period should be expected when someone loses a child. The grief may intensify through the coming months, rather than ease as time goes on.
People define themselves through their children. When having a child you begin to realize that the ability to create a human being, help to form it's personality, and watch it develop into a loving and intelligent adult is a gift to your life and that of the world.
Children give you so much joy with very little effort. The eyes of a child shining with happiness over something as simple as a puppy barking has a way of bringing you back from the "reality" of adulthood. Nothing on earth is as pure and simple as a child, and the parent of a child who's eyes light up watching the baby grow. Only a parent could understand it. For anyone who has lost a child, the pain, anger and sorrow is extremely deep. There is thoughts of this child, like video pictures of the life this child had, played over and over in the parent's mind. The smallest reminder, brings the "video"(Memories) in to play over and over again. The smallest reminder can bring everything to the forefront again. For me, it is birthdays or holidays, a child's cry, baby booties or a child s eyes looking into mine.
The intense grief caused by your childs death can take a physical toll as well. You may lose weight, have difficulty sleeping, become irritable or listless, or feel short of breath.
I have felt all of the above.
I used to ask myself if it was wrong to continue to feel the grief so deeply until I met another woman online who had also lost a child. She, too, had the same conflicts of emotion: the need to "get on with life" and "snap out of it" versus the need to keep our children's memories alive.
When we lose a child, especially if it is sudden and unexpected, it is as if a part of us dies too. There is a strong connection with our children which starts from the moment of conception, through the kicks to the tummy and the heartburn every time you take a bite of food. A mother touches her unborn infant, speaks to them, quiets the kicks.
For mothers, there is no relationship more intimate that that of a woman with her unborn child during pregnancy.
Because of this, we feel our children's every hurt, we instinctively know what they need, and we live to protect them. When they die, the loss of this "human" connection can bring on the most terrible kind of grief. Because we feel that we must "move on", many of us keep this grief internally, afraid to admit that it doesn't get any better. With Cy, not only did I mourn her loss, but also mourned the fact "I didn't know it was going to happen". I had always been able to feel if she needed me. I felt guilt that at the moment in time she needed me most- I wasn't there.
The loss of a child is beyond any ones belief. Beyond solace.. In these times of grief loneliness and depression, you need a safe place for healing and support.
A parent's job is to see to their children, look after them and meet all their needs. It is not in the normal course of things to be seeing to your child's burial. After a child dies a parent can settle into a deep depression brought on by guilt. It doesn't matter that in most cases there was nothing at all that the parent could have done to save their child; if your child dies you will feel pangs of guilt. It's very normal, and some experts say it's expected. It's something you have to get through in your own time and in your own way.
There is no going back to your old life -- to live is to learn a new life, one without your child. I tell people that it feels like a car, driving down the highway minus one of it's front wheels. Nothing you do seems to fit the way it use to, nothing moves the way it should.
Every parent dreams of watching their child grow up, become an adult. They expect to watch them learn, grow, make mistakes and learn from them. They expect to cheer them on and congratulate their achievements, to share their dreams and comfort them in times of sorrow or disappointment. With this gone the direction of life has to be reorganized, re-thought, relearned.
I feel like Cy's death has changed me. The death of a child alters your course in life, emotionally, physically and mentally. The things that once mattered-doesn't seem to be as pressing anymore. I use to worry over the simplest of things. Always worried about tomorrow. I realized through Cy's death there really is no tomorrow. I have to learn to live in the now and hope that I never have to feel the loss of another child as I take what is left of this journey called life.
In terms of loss, every kind of grief is different one from the other. In terms of stress factors in life, sociologists and psychologist say the loss of a spouse and the loss of a child are almost equally stressful. Because when a child dies prematurely, it's out of order. When the spouse dies everything is interconnected.
Bizarre doesn't even begin to explain how you feel when someone tells you your child has died or is dieing. Or if you are like me, you have absolutely no warning that it is going to happen. I never really understood the meaning of the word death until that day, strange as it sounds. I have seen my Mother, Father, Friends and Grandparents pass away.
Yet, my child's death supercedes all of these deaths as if they had been lumped together as one.
Your child is gone echoes somewhere in the back of your head, not making any sense. Time from that point on seems to have no meaning, no balance. You know this has to be someone else's life that this is happening too. This can't be happening, this can't be real!! repeats over and over again in your head.
With myself, throughout the day I kept expecting Cy to call and tell us it was a misunderstanding, they had the wrong body. I waited until about Forty-five minutes after the time she would have come home from work, waiting for her to return. Praying they had the wrong person. Praying everyone was wrong. Hoping I would wake up from the nightmare and call her on the phone to hear her sweet voice on the other end.
Grief is not something we learn. There is no class that will teach us how to grieve properly. We grieve because we are humans living in an imperfect world. Imperfect things happen.....
Copyright © 2005 Katlyn Stewart