* Photo by Cheri Thomas
Recently, I was asked to say a “few words” to other bereaved parents. My first thought was how does one say a few words when someone loses a child?
There are either “no words”, because words can’t truly describe the pain. Or, there are “not enough words” as one grasps the many words and metaphors it would take to try to describe it. And, then only end up feeling words were still inadequate! In preparing to share these “ few words”, I wrote and scratched it out, and wrote and scratched it out, over and over again as words fail to describe the pain that penetrated every aspect of my being... body, mind, soul, and spirit.
So first, I say… I’m sorry! I am SO truly sorry for your loss. I share your loss.
My boy Micah died suddenly at age 18. Micah had severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy his entire life. He required full care, so already grief and loss were present with Micah’s life. And, even with that I was not prepared for the grief and loss that would hit me when he died. I was his Mom, his primary care giver,and his advocate as he could not speak. With his passing was also the loss of my life’s purpose. Then like a tsunami… my marriage of 26 years dissolved, health and finances collapsed, and loss touched every area of my life. So, although our loss may not look exactly the same…I know that the pain and suffering joins our hearts. It touches us all. It weaves in and out of every one of our lives.
Losing a child is ultimate loss of control. If we could control it, our children would be healthy and happy and with us right now! To lose a child defies the natural order. I am SO sorry for your loss!
In these moments when there is an opportunity to share a “few words”, I ask myself what would I have wanted someone to share with me?
To start, I wish someone would’ve shared with me that my days would be filled with both/and.
That grief is BOTH a heavy blanket... SO heavy at times you feel like you cannot breathe. SO heavy and dense that you can’t lift it off. SO heavy it’s weight keeps you down in the cold and darkness.
AND, also this heavy blanket is available to surround you and wrap you tight like swaddling a baby bringing loving comfort and protection.
Our minds frantically want to find a way to make sense of what happened… The why’s are haunting... and no answer would ever satisfy! It’s only when we are experiencing and expressing the grief and loss that we heal and emerge.
Grieving is the only way to release us from the grief. In the grieving, we begin to experience both/and. Both the unimaginable excruciating pain and the new awarenesses that lead to hope and faith and a greater Love.
I would have wanted someone to encourage me that even though I couldn’t feel it or believe it, I WAS truly held and supported by a Loving Presence even in the deepest darkness when there is no conceivable light at the end of the tunnel.
I would have wanted someone to tell me to hold what I now call the “moments of sustenance”... the morsels… the tiniest of tiny crumbs (which are something different to each of us)… to gather and absorb them because THESE ARE THE MOMENTS OF LOVE AND THEY PAVE THE PATH OF HOPE! They lead to an eventual story that does continue to unfold...
By allowing yourself to hold just a small opening for something to emerge beyond your control and explanation is truly “collateral beauty”. A gift that emerges in the wake of the unimaginable. These gifts give you strength to hold on in the darkness. To not be afraid to embrace the pain… To let it out in some form; to let it do it’s transformative work. To be YOU. To be authentic. No two people grieve alike. Only you know what you need.
Right now, in this present moment, from my heart to yours, I would encourage you to please give ample love and compassion to yourself! How can you not feel this way?! Your love is deep, how can the pain not be?! It’s not a sign of weakness to hurt… It’s the depth of your love crying out in expression. It’s OK. It’s necessary. It cannot be intellectualized. It’s the journey of the HEART. Explore it, express it!
There are those who walked this path ahead of us. Invite them to help you. Generations before us have grieved their child and many after us will. We can learn from their stories. We each individually have our own inner journey to take. Yet, we are interconnected. Our stories overlap and connect us and comfort us. Our pain and loss joins our hearts. And the love we have in our hearts for our children, and the love they have for us is a sustaining love.
In a much more personal way, I now understand the words, “ love never dies” or “love never ends”. Micah has now taken on a new form and yet he still continues to expand my heart. I SO miss the physical form I was used to! Yet, I have come to experience this love that lives beyond physical death. A love that abides in the heart.
This love that we shared with our children becomes multiplied! The love that is intertwined into our very being! The love we freely gave. The love that is forever changing us. The love that is always accepting. The love that lets us know we’re enough. The love that cannot die.
The love that can’t fail to be present in us because it led us all to who we are today.
To live from our children’s essence is to live from love. When our hearts connect with the heart of another, we feel our child’s essence alive, and honor the life of love they lived. This helps us find meaning and multiply the love!
I encourage you to let loss and love join hands within your heart. The deep pain and suffering we experience create an earthquake inside. It feels like we’re crumbling and breaking down beyond repair. Yet, I desire to encourage you and give you hope that what feels like being BROKEN DOWN is really an opportunity to be BROKEN OPEN!
As we remember each of our precious children, I leave you with a quote by poet Rumi : “My beloved grows right out of my own heart, how much more union can there be!"
Our children’s light of love will continue to shine and the window between our hearts will be forever open as Love truly never ends…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR--------
Cheri holds a B.S. .in Organizational Communication, Certificates of SI Life Coach and Grief Facilitator as well as professional licensure’s.
However, no education was greater than that earned by Cheri as a mother of four children and wife to a traveling consultant. Cheri was an 18 year caretaker and advocate to her severely handicapped child, Micah, whose life was at risk daily due to his severely debilitating medical condition.
Still reeling from the sudden loss of Micah, and the death of her life purpose; like a tsunami...her marriage dissolved, health and finances collapsed and loss ensued in every area of her life. Feeling utterly abandoned by everyone and everything, including the God of the Universe... in a sheer effort to survive, she threw herself into: therapy, contemplative prayer/meditation, grief groups, yoga and walking in nature.
Out of this collapse, came the collateral beauty of many gifts. Nature nurtured her in surprising ways! Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others in what she calls the “JOURNEY OF THE HEART.” Her Ultimate Caregiver has expanded her heart. She hopes your heart will be expanded too!