After my 19-year-old son Logan died in a truck crash over seven months ago, I had no idea what I was about to face with the life-long journey called grief. God’s love is there, somewhere.
The first hours, days and weeks after my son’s death
My life changes in an instant. I turn around and a giant tsunami is rushing forward. I am in denial. I am In shock. I don’t know what to do. Panic has not set in. My mind has not caught up with the reality that is about to slam me into deep loss. Before my heart has a chance to take the next beat, I am knocked out cold. The violence of the waves is about to swallow me in the abyss of the unknown. Loved ones are on the edge of the deep pit, showering me with love, flowers, well-wishes as if I am about to go on a horrific trip. I slip from their grasp and fall into the darkness. Spinning out of control. Still numb. Terrified. Scared. Thinking, this is not happening. I am dreaming. Everything is a blur. And… I crash land at the bottom of the long dark hole.
I wake up. This is not a dream. It is not a nightmare. Panic sets in. The loved ones have gone home, returning back to their lives. I walk around in circles as the horrible truth of losing my child sets in. I want someone to save me from my grief. Wild thoughts set in. May be, I will disappear on a backpacking trip to middle of no where or go to fancy retreats on tropical beaches. May be I will go on a mission to help others in a third world country. Anything to get away from the grief. But it won’t go away. No matter what I do, who I am with or where I go.
Logan comes to me every now and then to let me know he is okay. That gets me through…until the next breath. My mind’s eye sees him at restaurants of all places. I stand in line at a sandwich place to get lunch, and he is behind the counter, fixing food, glancing up at me with his big smile. I sit down at a restaurant, and I see Logan serving water and cleaning tables, again catching me with his eyes and smile.
I freak out in the grocery store, can’t think. Break down and cry. And his words, “I am okay mom,” calm me down just enough to get my task done.
Taking the first step on the grief trail
Stuck at the bottom of the pit, looking up I can see a pinpoint of light from where I fell. I have to accept the fact that the grief is not going anywhere.
How could it?
Grief is the love I have for Logan. About as close to unconditional love I am mortally capable of. Without being able to love my son in the living world, I have no choice but to love him through grief in an unknown world. Grief is my new communication channel to reach him and carry the love I will always have for him. But how do I work with this grief?
I build up enough strength and get up on my wobbly legs, grief and all, and take the first step toward the next phase of my life.
I am on the grief trail and there is no end in sight.
Angry at God
Another thing that really sucks is the journey has to be traveled alone. It took me a few months to figure that out. Others impacted by Logan’s death experience grief differently and travel at their own pace in their own way.
This crappy reality forces me to tap into God within my head and heart to take the next step. There is no divine light or whispers telling me what to do.
God is there. It doesn’t feel that way at first.
In the hours and days after Logan’s death, I did not feel thankful or grateful. How I raised my fist at God in seething rage and hot tears that he could let this happen. I was ready to go to battle with him, to unleash my fury. And if I had to take on the devil, I’d do that too.
Anger, guilt, tears, fear, disbelief and numbness randomly hit in no particular order. They are like sharp rocks in rapid white water I am attempting to to swim through – naked and with no life jacket.
I am learning to navigate the pain. It passes. And I can feel joy and laughter sometimes. And the the cycle of pain strikes again. Just seven months in, I am not use to this journey, but it is getting familiar.
Building my grief muscles
The anger subsides over the weeks, but I was not taking care of myself. Not sleeping. Not eating right and drinking wine every night, which made the sadness worse.
To survive the grief trail, I had to take better care of myself. I see a grief counselor, also a bereaved parent, who is my beacon on the trail. She has taught me to accept the pain, let it happen and let it be. Grief is not an illness or something to heal from or get over. And the grief of a child is like no other.
Other grieving parents welcome me with open arms, listen to my story, cry with me and laugh with me. Friends and family are close by. They don’t understand what I am going through and I wouldn’t want them to. I am thankful they are there.
Over three months after my son’s death, I traded sad hour (others would say happy hour, i.e. drinking wine) with running and working out. And revamped my eating so I have the physical strength needed to carry the grief.
Brief bouts of joy come as I do agonizing sit-ups on the cold wet ground looking at the stars above. It is those times when Logan’s presence is felt, when his words rush through my brain, “You can do this mom!” He’s there when I am running, encouraging me to keep on going. And for the first time I understand the power of physical fitness, how important that was to Logan and now it is becoming just as important to me. It brings me closer to him.
I am still working things through with God, but I believe it’s not God’s fault that Logan is dead. Neither is it God’s will. Logan was driving too fast, distracted with his cell phone and crashed in a tree. Brutal cause and effect. Life happens. Death happens.
I keep going back to what I was taught as a child and experienced through my life: God is love. There is nothing easy about love. That is why grief is so hard. Because grief is love. If I didn’t grieve Logan as deeply as I do, then I didn’t love him.
I have to believe the ability to love like that comes from God. As painful and difficult as it is, what an incredible gift when you think about it.
It’s God’s love that gives me the energy to get up and face another day, to work, to be there and present for the living, to take care of others and myself.
Grieve. To carry the love I will have forever for Logan. How the love is carried and what I do with it is evolving. The pain is always there, but God is giving me strength to put one foot in front of the other.
I want to thank two very special souls who have helped me along the grief trail: Anne Moss Rogers who lost her 20-year-old son Charles to suicide and Karla Helbert whose 11-month-old son Theo died of a brain tumor. These two women have channeled the love and grief for their children into helping others. Anne Moss is on a life long mission to STOP suicide and Karla is my grief counselor who holds retreats for other grieving parents and sheds her insights and knowledge as an author of books about using yoga as a way to cope with grief. Love to you both. Namaste!