As I was writing in my journal the other night, an image from a 1998 movie, Deep Impact, came to mind. Two people were on the beach waiting for the inevitable. A comet struck the ocean creating a ginormous tidal wave that wiped them and miles of civilization out. After pondering this image, I wrote in my journal:
Absorbing tragedy - a new thought. I was going along in life, minding my own business, so to speak, and Josh took his life. This monumental tragedy - like a tidal wave, a train wreck, a hurricane, a fire - has struck me full force but rather than being dashed to bits, I have been asked to absorb the equivalent - into my heart, body and soul in order to continue with life. Being asked to incorporate this tidal wave of loss into my conscious and subconscious mind. First of all, the impact is enough to kill or if not, to maim and cripple me. Second, it is not something that can be seen from the outside - the devastating damage is internal.
Trying to absorb this immense tragedy - Josh's death, my baby boy who is now gone - is a monumental task if asked to do it one time, but I am constantly faced with reminders that re-open wounds, resurface feelings, and push me back. So it is one step forward and three steps back.
The most difficult thing is that it is all internal. One does not see broken bones, a cast, or burns - no disfigurement or scarring. If someone were burned over 90% of their body, one glance would be enough to know this person has years of pain and healing in front of them. It would be understood. But in my case, because my wounds are not external, no one would know that this kind of pain, grief, suffering and healing is what I face as well.
But when I look in the mirror, I know. I see someone who is not whole. Who is fractured, broken, and burned. A part of her heart that has been cut out - an amputee. I see this and feel it - every day. It is almost 17 months, in fact, the 18th is on a Wednesday which is the day of the week that he died. That is hard because 17 months ago, right now, he was still alive. How I wish we could move time back.
I have finished a book called The Grieving Garden: Living with the Death of a Child by Suzanne Redfern and Susan Gilbert. In it, 22 parents share their stories of loss. The circumstances vary widely - mode of death, age of the child, and how long ago their tragedy occurred. But the feelings are the same. I have found this book to very helpful and plan to share more in future posts. However, I will end this post with a "Permission to Mourn" certificate, shared by a father who lost his 32 year old daughter to lung cancer.
PERMISSION TO MOURN
Is granted to the holder of this certificate, ____________________ who is hereby entitled to publicly acknowledge his/her loss, mourn openly, to share narratives of the loss, and to recruit social support in his/her own way and time, without apology or embarrassment. Tears, memories, silence, uncertainty, and strong emotions are hereby enfranchised.
Please treat this griever with kindness, compassion, and love.
This certificate has no expiration date.
We continue to feel the thoughts and prayers of so many who also love and miss our beloved Josh.