Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 03/10/2013

In response to a grieving parent’s comment.

A comment from a reader:

“I don’t know where to start. My son, Gary, died January 8, 2013. He is a pastor, husband, daddy, son, brother. He is one of the best men I’ve ever known. I don’t know how to live with this. I am trying so hard to be strong for my grieving son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, all the time I’m screaming why, why, why on the inside. I don’t want to live. Why didn’t God take me? I’m ready. Why have I been left here to suffer? I live alone. My ex-husband is on his third marriage and we don’t even talk. We lost a child and we can’t even discuss it. I’ve tried and he won’t respond. I am so alone. I am retired, live alone and grieve. That’s all I do. I am avoiding people or some are avoiding me. I have fewer friends now. When Gary died, some “friends” quit calling. I’ve been to church one time since his death and cried the whole time, now I am avoiding even going to church. I know that this is not very hopeful, but just needed to get it off of my chest.”

Reader, you are in a place where you don’t have to arrive hopeful, but rather, we aspire to help you leave with hope.

Your child died. Your loss is very recent and you are in the first months of “firsts” since your son died. This will be the most difficult year ahead, and I won’t mislead you into thinking otherwise. However, you can do this one hour at a time, then one day, and eventually one week.

Your son was a pastor, a good man, qualities that suggest he also was a compassionate man with a belief in everlasting existence, and a reconnection with you. You were not left to suffer, by some grand plan, but you are suffering, yes. You were, however, left to live a life worthy of your son’s dreams for you, just as he was living a life worthy of your dreams for him in and through his faith. In this way, when you naturally reconnect, you will greet him with a blessing and not a burden.

Your ex-husband is not in a place where he can emotionally reach out to you or help you through this, and your paths are not the same, and he is not seeking the solace of commiserating with you during this difficult period. He is letting you know that there is no solace for him in that scenario. Either he has another support system, or overriding other obligations, or he does not grieve in the manner you might have expected or hoped. So we must turn our eyes away from that option, and wish for him his best life. We respect for the fact that while the marriage ended, his parentage did not. And so he likely is hurting, too. But in this instance, one person in pain cannot lighten, understand or commute another’s pain.

This leaves closer family and friends. I, too, lost some “friends” after Daniel died, and others I turned away from because I felt their interest was too difficult to bear (“at least you have the other kids” and other idiotic remarks) or suffocating (“you need a nap right now; go off and I’ll take care of your kids now” when I most needed to hold them close) or fabricated.  This is an unintentional spring cleaning of friendships; you’ll find some no longer “fit” and that is disappointing, but it frees up your time to pursue more significant or relevant friendships in due time.

You are hurt. You are raw. This is a time to fall back on the resources you do have. Can you go to church when the congregation is not there, or with a trusted friend who will accept your tears? God is holding your son in his love; through God, you will find a bridge in belief.  Perhaps you could worship with your daughter-in-law? Perhaps you both are being brave, one for the other, when together you could hold a hand and share a moment of companionable grief?

We hold you close and understand, and gently encourage. You can do this impossibly hard thing being asked of you. Do not bury the love you felt and feel for your son, but wrap yourself in it, and with that barrier and protection, take a step forward and move beyond your walls and into places, with people, who offer you grace and balm. If you don’t know them, explore the mental health options available to you, and the grief support groups in your area and please, keep in touch. Reader, you are in my heart. You are in our hearts, this community we make of grieving and healing (though scarred forever), understanding parents. We have walked our own difficult walks and now are here to walk with you.


Responses

  1. Thank you so much. I will read and re-read this over the long haul. Your words are such a blessing.

    He’s been dead two months and I’ve just begun to cry. For the first month I was numb, then the second I’ve been busy taking care of other people. Then has come this soul shaking anger at the unfairness of Gary’s death at only 44, from ischemic heart disease. He didn’t even know that he had a heart problem. And he was so loved by his family, church and community.

    My daughter in law is moving back close to me, Fuquay Varina NC in June, after my granddaughter graduates from Bethel Temple High School in Asheville, NC. Right now, they are alone except for church friends. They have no family to support them there, either.

    I have an appt. with a grief counselor this afternoon and will begin the Stephen Ministry support group, too. I need all of the help I can get to make it through this trauma as a whole individual, who is able to give a hand up to those who are suffering. I am going to Griefshare on Sunday evenings. Please, all who believe, pray for me.

    Mary Chris

  2. You most definitely are in my prayers. Wow, you are taking such excellent steps, Mary, and let us know how you are progressing.
    Jody

    • My sincere condolences, Mary Chris, on the death of your son. I lost my son & only child in 1999 at the age of 23. You are doing one of the best things you can do by going to support groups and also by seeing a grief counselor. I couldn’t go to church either as I couldn’t stop crying. This is actually quite common as I have talked to other people who have had similar reactions following the death of a child or a spouse. I had to watch church services on TV instead. There at home I felt I could pray and grieve. I could, however, go to another congregation’s services with a close friend and not be overcome with grief. Be patient with this and kind to yourself. You will be able to go to church services again, but it may take some time.

  3. I lost my oldest son on march 12th 2014 and my youngest son on Feb 23rd of 2016…..yes the pain is overwhelming …..I have faith in god I am not angry just lost for the moment….duchennes muscular dystrophy…. It feels like they are with me but the missing them part tears my heart in pieces….I will always love them and I have no regrets they were happy boys and they taught me more about faith then anyone ever could have


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