I’m just a dad who is trying to relay my experiences with losing my son, Luke. I’m not a professional, or counselor, or trained in grief counseling. My experience is life and dealing with one of the worst days of my life (I call it Day 1) and the days and months after Day 1.
The title is a little dramatic, I know, but I’m allowed to, it’s in the unwritten rules of loss. To be honest this subject has been on my mind for awhile, but I really didn’t want to tackle it. But, if you are going through the first few weeks of losing your child, I owe it to you to get an idea of what’s to come.
I dreaded the Memorial. To me it was coming face to face with the fact that I will never see my son alive again, he’s not growing up, he’s stuck in time. September 2nd, 2019. He will never grow up or grow old. Luke will always be our 15 year old boy. Also, I would have to face my mortality, my spouses, and families. A dark time with dark thoughts.
I suppose I had it easier than most. The planning for the service, meeting with the Pastor, and the minutia to make the clock tick closer to the day of the memorial. Staying busy so as not to think why I was there. Just waiting would have been hard. Going through memory after memory, thinking of what could have been done to avert his death. A parents’ or guardians’ constant loop of what could have been done. But, it is done, our child, or grandchild, or sibling is physically gone and now we have to do what is right. Remembering that child as best we can under the hardest of circumstances. An unenviable time to say the least. There are things I took away from the service, and some things I found to be a myth during that day.
First was the myth of closure. There was no closure for me and listening to my wife and kids and his friends there wasn’t closure for them either. I suppose one day I can say it was the beginning of the coping experience but today I’m crying writing this (I cried during the last blog and Jamie cried doing hers).
The second is the healing process. I think this is the biggest mislabel of what we are going through. The wisdom is that we are healing from a broken heart, but to me I am coping with the loss of someone who can never be replaced. I know it’s a bummer to read this especially during the first few weeks but if I don’t write this it may keep you from moving forward with your life. The memorial, for me, was a step forward in coping with the loss of my child. I had to realize he wasn’t going to walk through the door again, those thoughts are just plain old hard.
Back to the memorial. It’s important to remember the memorial. For us it was a rainy September day. Earlier that morning we spread his ashes with our family and grandparents. We cried a lot and went back to the grandparents’ house and prepared for the service. Before the service friends and families were sending us pictures of the double rainbows. God’s promise to us that all is not lost and that He is there for us. Our extended family were awesome in preparing for the memorial and setting up the reception area. They found pictures, prepared for the guests a reception, and basically ran interference with whomever we were not prepared to see. (If you are alone and do not have family to help I would rely on the funeral home on this part. They have done this before and know what to do. Even though you are paying them, they have a heart and feel your pain more than you would think.) We went early to the church and waited upstairs until it was time to go down to sanctuary. The pastor did his thing, we had a few songs picked out, that went well and then we went to the reception room afterword. This was a bit of a blur for me, just the people coming and well-wishing and trying not to let things get awkward. They may not have known my son as well as we did but it still hurt them too. Patience is so important during the memorial; people will say things they think are right but aren’t. Folks will linger too long or make what they did more important than the day itself. Just know they don’t know how to deal with the loss of your child or know your feelings. Try not to get upset but have understanding and patience.
After the memorial when it’s just time for you and your thoughts please remember that you are not to blame for whatever happened to you child. This false guilt is from Satan pure and simple. There are forces that want you to be defeated, bereft of hope, and want you to walk away from God. The past is the past, the child will be with God now, and we need to understand that nothing we do will bring that loved one back.
I almost forgot. One last thing I did to survive our memorial was to allow myself to feel the pain of loss fully. Once the details were done, the service was commenced I was no longer in control of anything, so I let myself be out of control and let the full realization of the loss of my son wash over me. It hurt so bad, but it had to be done. I acknowledge my sons was gone, I acknowledged my pain, hurt, confusion, and loss, and I acknowledged that I would have to step forward in my life. Someday I will be able to cope with all my emotions, hurt, pain, guilt, and love with Luke. A walk that is easier today than September 2nd, 2019, my Day 1.
Loves From Luke