It has been about 18 months since we lost our son Luke and at the beginning of our new life path I just wanted to lay in bed all day long. There were so many days that I just did not want to do anything. Every morning there was a battle to just get up and get some coffee so I can do the day. Some days were like, “I’m not a participant in the day, the work, the eating, or cleaning.” I was doing stuff but I did it because if I didn’t work we would lose the house, the car, and all other stuff. Before I lost Luke I worked because I was driven to succeed. After losing my son I just did what had to be done to keep a roof over my family’s head and keep food on the shelf. When my family fixed up the house we lost Luke in, I did what had to be done to get rid of that place. Everyday I woke up exhausted and went to bed exhausted.
Folks deal with loss differently. You may have energy from Day 1 and want to get out and do something, or you may be like most of us Angel Parents and are just trying to figure out what this new life path looks like. But you are not lazy, you are healing, eventually life will return to a newish reality and one day you will look back at what happened after Day 1 to now and realize you can get out of bed, you can talk to people, you can answer a text or a phone call. Right now though you may physically feel fine, but you are wounded mentally and spiritually. This feeling of wanting to not move and let the world move past you is normal, you will be exhausted, mentally numb, you will forget simple things like changing your clothes, eating, and if you do leave your house you may forget why or where you were going. In the beginning it is normal to be exhausted your mind is trying to process something that should not have happened. Children should grow up and yours is not. Your child’s life has stopped and yet you are going on. It does not feel natural.
So how to “fix” this. Often people who are your friends and family see healing from a loss of a child the same as healing from a physical wound. If you had a cut, you would see the wound heal over time, but mental and spiritual wounds don’t heal that way. Healing mentally is an action and passively waiting does not work. You must want to heal and that is difficult to say the least. Your friends will not understand what is going on on the inside. Friends and family want to help you, they love you, and they may give disastrous advice. “Get out and do something” or “I don’t understand why your still depressed” or “You have to get over it” or “Maybe change your clothes”. They are trying to help so my best advice on this is to have patience with them and understand as misguided as they are, they are trying to help.
Mentally and spiritually healing is taxing, daunting, and plain old hard. There will be times that will think are setbacks, sneaker waves of emotion, crying at a stoplight, or just looking out a window. These are not setbacks but a part of a process.
For men the process is simple, ignore it, work, and move on… We are simple beings. Unfortunately, that plan only prolongs the healing process. It is well documented that those who ignore the healing process will develop various anxieties, addictions, depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, and that, MEN, is the short list. Fatigue, headaches, new phobias, chest pain, digestive issues, can often happen if you don’t actively engage in mental healing.
Women are slightly better, crying releases endorphins which helps in the short term. But, women, you will often have the same symptoms as men if you do not take an active role in grieving and healing from the sudden loss of a child.
So, what to do? Talk to a grief counselor. If you can’t find one try Open Hearts Ministry they will help find someone for you. When you are able, go to Griefshare.org and find a grief share group. You may have to go to several different groups before you find the one that fits your needs. There are a lot of books on grieving. I read The Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James and Russell Friedman. My wife read Finding Your Way After the Suicide of Someone You Love by David B. Biebel & Suzanne L. Foster. My wife has read Imagine Heaven by John Burke, it is not a grief book per say, but it does give hope of where your child is and it is very comforting.
I am around the 18 month mark since I lost my son and I’m crying typing this but I can tell you that I look forward to waking up and getting coffee. I work way harder than before. I don’t feel like a zombie just going through the motions. You are still going to be at a stop sign and break out in tears. You are not going to be able to go that favorite place for a long, long, long time and not cry. It is just how it is. Today may be your Day 1 after the loss of a child, and I pray for God to be with you and to carry you through this time, or you may be at day 540 and counting, but each day is a blessing and each day you will have to commit to recovering from your grief.
I hope that this has helped you in some way. I am not a therapist or counselor, just a dad who lost his kid. I miss my son everyday, but it’s different today than it was Day 1. Jamie and I will continue to write blogs and we hope this will let you know you are not alone in this time of sorrow. Maybe someday one of you will submit to us a blog to help others who have suddenly lost a child.
With love and compassion
Angel Parents supporting Angel Parents