Grief And Surviving One More Anniversary

GRIEF ATTACKSThis one was a bad one; there is just no way around it, and there is no way to predict or understand it.  Our daughter has been gone more years than I had lived on the day she was killed and yet, this anniversary season was rough, rough, rough. Why? I have no idea.

For the first 10 years or so after we lost Mandy, anniversaries were debilitating, grief-stricken days. If you’ve been there, you know the routine… “This time one year ago we were…” and so on. Then, things began to change a little and those days, while never easy and always sad, were softer and less debilitating.  Hard days, but without the violent attacks of grief.

Life and the years rocked along like that for a long time. And then the panic attacks began, out of the blue, and with a horrible vengeance.

Usually, about September 1 each year, my internal clock begins the first strains of an attack. I am a super busy person, and it normally takes a couple of weeks, each day a little worse than the day before, for me to stop and recognize the feelings for what they are. From then until October 11, the panic builds until I don’t think I will be able to survive it. It’s almost as though I have a crystal ball, and I can see the future. I know what is going to happen, and I know she is going to die, and I can’t do one thing to save her.

I also know that if I can just hang on, October 12 will dawn, and that I will be fine for yet another year.

I have no idea if this is “normal” because there is nothing about grief that is normal. Nor do I know if others experience this rollercoaster ride because by the time we have this many years behind us, most of us just don’t talk about the “crazy” emotions we still experience. It makes us look really, really weak, doesn’t it?

 I suppose today’s blog was written because I received a call from a mother whose grief is brand new. She thanked me and told me how much reading was helping her, and while I wanted to do nothing but encourage her to hang on, I also knew that I have no real answers for anyone. I simply write about my own mistakes and hope that many of you can avoid the pitfalls that I have fallen into so many times on this very long, dark journey.

I suppose the thing to hang onto is the fact that eventually, the sun does shine and eventually, you will laugh.  Although we apparently never completely lose the dark days, they do eventually get farther and farther apart.

Hang in there!

Comments { 4 }

Death Changes So Much More Than You Know

I happened across this video today, and it ripped my heart out…of course, then I wondered how I have any heart to rip, as most of you who read this blog will well understand.  If you had more than one child when you lost a child,  you know what I know: the dynamics of our family was gone in a single instant. Not only did we lose our daughter, we lost the joy that the two shared just being together…the smiles, the giggles, the sheer fun of digging in the dirt together…it all disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Playing In "The Wilds"

Playing In “The Wilds” of California

Of course, we still had our precious son, and we tried, how we tried to make it all up to him, but in the end, there was no way to do that.  We floated the river, rode the rides at theme parks, and hiked the wilds. We bought BB guns, and go carts, and ice cream, trying to convince him and us that life was still fun and that we were all going to be okay.

Sometimes I think the rest of the world completely overlooks the grief that comes from the loss of a sibling, completely forgets the lost playmate, confidante, and often the first soul mate. And as the parent, I was so busy trying to glue our world back together until I suppose I overlooked a lot of things myself.

For those few people who came and played with our son, took him for ice cream, invited him home to play with their children, I will be eternally grateful because those acts did, at least for a little while, take him out of our sad world and let him see that there were places where life was going on and where people were “like we used to be.”

Comments { 0 }

It’s Christmas & I’m Grieving!

MANDY SHEA JONESToday, while I fight with wrapping paper and bows that should have been finished long ago, I find myself thinking back and remembering all of the years (and years) that I faked my way through this season with a hole in my heart that just could not seem to heal.

I would have crawled under that damned Christmas tree and died except that I had too many people counting on me, two children who deserved a “holly jolly” mom as well as the assurance that we were the happy Leave it to Beaver family that I was determined we would be…and that we were going to be okay…after all, Santa Claus was coming to town, right?

I frantically fought my way through years of life (and so much loss) that were “never meant to be that way.” Unfortunately, grief was not something we had remembered to put into the plan, and I actually wasn’t very good at it at all, no matter how hard I tried, and I did try.

For whatever reason, God has put many who are grieving in our community in front of me this week, and I recognize so well the hollow eyes, the lips that try desperately to smile without quivering, and the too bright hellos, that scream silently, “How the hell, do you think I’m doing, stupid??!!!”

Of course, they don’t have to worry about me because I won’t ask that question. I’ll simply pat, or hug, or maybe offer a simple, “I’m thinking about you” because I don’t need to know how they are doing. I know. I’ve been there.

I see those who are a little too thin, and I remember because I couldn’t eat either…sometimes not at all because I coudn’t make it go down, period. Then, I see those who have put on a few pounds, and I recognize the signs of a grieving eater, someone who is desperately trying to cope and has no idea how to do that. Others may not understand the signs, but I do.

I know that all of you know that there is nothing easy about losing the ones we love, but if you have not been there, you may not really understand that holidays are almost more than people can stand…and this goes on in their lives for YEARS.

Today, we have many friends who are hurting, and while there is not a lot we can do for them, a kind word, a card, and certainly the assurance that we are holding them up in prayer will at least let them know that they are not truly in this thing alone.

The very, very, very very worst thing that any of us can do is to pretend that all is well, that the loved one never existed, that it is time “to get over it.” Our friends want to know that we remember, that their loved one did not live in vain and has not been forgotten.

Mostly, they just need to know that we all care.

If you are the one grieving today, the one who doesn’t honestly believe that going on is possible, I am living proof that you can survive. I can’t tell you that there is anything easy about it, but it can be done. Hang in there and know that time…even lots of it…does finally pass, and it does get easier than it is today. Hugs!

Comments { 7 }