Living life without your child is like falling, quite by accident, into a deep, dark well in the wee hours of the morning. At first your entire body is underwater. You can’t breathe. But that’s okay, because if you don’t breathe, you will die. You’re not sure you want to live anyway. After all, dying means you will be with your child.
Then, without willing it, your body’s natural buoyancy brings your head above the water. It’s your body’s survival-mode kicking in. You’re able to breathe, but treading water is hard work. The water is bone-chilling cold, and you think it just might be easier to give up and drown. Even that is a scary proposition. Living isn’t easy, and it’s just too darn hard to die!
Outside the well, the sun begins to rise, and you catch a glimmer of light. Hope! Hours pass, and the sun is now high in the sky. With the added light, you notice a ladder for which to climb. But it is slick with slime. You attempt to scale the ladder multiple times in search of the bright sunshine. Sometimes, you only make it a few steps and fall. Then, there are times when you successfully climb nearly to the top, only to make one false move, and plummet into the frigid waters once again.
Climbing the ladder, like your grief journey, is a large, arduous process. Sometimes, it’s one step forward and then two backwards. But eventually, you find your way out of that deep, dark place. Still, the memory of falling into the well will forever haunt you. I wish I could tell you that you will never find yourself in that well again. But sadly, if you are a fellow traveler, I can tell you that it does happen. An unexpected event, a memory or comment takes you back to the early days of your grief, where you miss your child to the depths of your soul.
But there is good news. Those days grow less and less. The sun begins to shine more often. When you fall into that deep well, you have become more adept at crawling out. You are stronger and braver. You find more joy than sorrow in your life, and for that, you are grateful!
About the Author–Anne Lloyd
Through journaling, Anne learned to appreciate writing after the death of her daughter Shannon in June 2001. At first a chore, writing quickly became a source of solace. The newfound joy of writing carried into her career as an elementary school teacher in Omaha Public Schools. In 2012, Anne participated in the National Writing Project, an organization which works with teachers to strengthen the education of young writers. For Anne, inspired by this project, the teaching of writing became an art. In Anne’s class, writing was a favorite subject for many of her students. As a certified reading specialist and with an ESL endorsement, Anne, now retired from public school teaching, continues to use her skills tutoring young students.