Saturday, December 6, 2008

What Not to do for the Grieving...

I really don't know where to begin this post, except that I feel compelled to address it for my own heart's sake. It's been six months since my beautiful daughter died in a grinding automobile crash. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her. I miss her in a most profound way that's different from any other person in my life who has passed on. There are no words for it, just the feeling that half of me is gone and I must somehow survive without an important part of my very soul. I'm having to re-invent myself because I am no longer the mother of a lovely young woman who should have had her whole life ahead of her. If I'm not her mother, then who am I? (The picture is Angie with her son, Nathaniel).

Grief is one thing, but a whole identity crisis is something I thought I figured out back in the 70's.

Most days, the tears are "just behind my eyes" (to borrow a phrase from the friend who first used it.) It's such a fragile balance, and I have worked so hard to achieve it. That delicate edge is the difference between being a functioning human being and a total emotional breakdown.
Today I learned that I not only must survive this grief, but I must also survive well-meaning people. I'm learning to live with the grief, but I'm convinced that well-meaning people just might do me in. I've been a train wreck since the mail came, and I know she would never intentionally hurt me. She's my friend. She's done a lot for me over the years and I love her very much. She would be hurt to know that I spent my day screaming and crying like I'd just got the news of Angie's death...over the package she sent me today.

If you know someone who is grieving, please don't try to make it better. For one thing, you can't. For another, you can very easily make it ten times worse for the person you are trying to help. Most especially, don't send a grieving mother poems written in the first person like a "letter home" from Heaven. Only God knows what I would give to get a real letter like that from Angie. All my neighbors know (now) how loud I can scream that it's just not possible. The name of the poem is "My First Christmas in Heaven." I'm sure it was intended to help someone who is going through the first Christmas without their loved one. I'm sure she thought it would help me. The truth is...if I were to read it again, I'd not survive another day, much less through Christmas. It has the total opposite effect on the grieving and should come with a warning label. It's a tear-jerker on a good day. For someone walking that fine emotional's total overwhelment. I don't need any help to cry. I got that one down-pat. I need LAUGH.


ncpugger said...

Hang in there, farm raised people
are much stronger than others.
Know whom you can call that is and
will be there for you.

Barb said...

Oh Judy, I'm so very sorry. I'm sure your friend meant no harm and as devastated as we all are, I can't imagine what it must be like for you. Wish I was there ~ to make you smile. Know that I am hugging you in my heart and don't forget ~ you are still a grandmother to a beautiful young man.