This year's Mother's Day was not particularly sad. Maybe it is because there has been so much encouraging activity with the Josh Anderson Foundation (JAF), the most recent being the Send Silence Packing display in Fairfax Corner the day before.
To see the money we have raised being put to good use, in high schools that Josh attended is uplifting. To hear parents, administration and counselors acknowledge that our teens need to be educated on difficult mental health topics is heart warming because maybe, just maybe, we can save other kids. I am so proud of our daughter, Lauren who has spent the last 9 months working tirelessly and successfully to get meaningful, effective programs into local schools. So when my mind's eye looks back between now and last Mother's Day, the JAF is a true highlight.
Maybe the good that is being done has counter-balanced the feelings of loss. Or maybe it is just the passage of time that eases the pain. Or a combination of both - I am not sure.
Today is another anniversary month and just like last month, I will share some thoughts and a poem from The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief & Healing edited by Kevin Young.
In his introduction, Young speaks to the healing process, marked by the actual lessening of felt grief. He begins by quoting a section from Philip Larkin's "The Trees":
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
The greenness of grief - its returning, like the leaves - seems to me one of the best ways to understand it as an experience. It is perennial, yet ebbs and flows, "Like something almost being said." Even grief's lessening can be something to be mourned; ironically, there are days when, by not feeling so bad, we fear and feel we are betraying our loved ones.YES - I write in the margin! Sometimes, instead of feeling sad, I actually feel content in my life right now because of the stronger ties to my immediate and extended family, to my friends and to the community through JAF, and wonder how can I feel content, when Josh is not here? What kind of mother am I? And then I feel guilt, but in a different kind of way. Not guilt about his death, but guilt in moving past his death. Kind of a "catch 22" or "damned if I do and damned if I don't". Who knew the grieving process could be so complicated?
The challenging thing is that there is no user manual; no "How to Survive Grief for Dummies", no "12-Step Process to Overcoming Grief", no guide, course or program that gives the answers. The grieving process is as individual as we are which means no two journeys will be the same, even if we experience the same loss. I've mentioned this before and it still rings true - grieving is a lonely business. This is why I find it so therapeutic to read, write in my journal and on this blog - it is a way for me to connect to other people through their writing and my own.
I hope my Josh can say these words from his present home.
Notes from the Other Side
by Jane Kenyon
I divested myself of despair
and fear when I came here.
Now there is no more catching
one's own eye in the mirror,
there are no bad books, no plastic,
no insurance premiums, and of course no illness.
Contrition does not exist, nor gnashing of teeth.
No one howls as the first clod of earth hits the casket.
The poor we no longer have with us.
Our calm hearts strike only the hour,
and God, as promised, proves
to be mercy clothed in light.