I used to think if my child died, I would not survive it. I would sell everything, leave home and fly to a remote third world county and bury myself in some cause to help others. Or I would become a raging drug addict to escape my pain and slip into utter oblivion. Or I would escape into the far-off wilderness and go on a death defying 1,000-mile hike by myself. Or I would call it quits and leave this life altogether. The pain would be too much.
And then my son, my only child, really did die. A truck crash took Logan’s life at age 19.
After I kissed him goodbye as his soul left his lifeless body on an ICU hospital bed, I came back to the house, no longer a home, and thought…what’s the use. Nothing mattered anymore. And the gut wrenching, horrifically painful, awful thing, called grief took over.
There was no escaping grief.
Seventeen months later, I am still alive. Did I sell everything and leave my house? Yes. I started another life in another time zone. Did I fly off to be doer of good in a remote country? No. I barely had the energy and mind-space to take care of myself. Did I become a raging drug addict? Pinot Grigio was becoming my best friend, but I eventually had to curtail that relationship. Did I escape to the far-off wilderness? Sort of if you count day hikes in the Rockies. Did I call it quits? There were times the only relief I got was knowing this life would end and I could be with Logan. But the answer is…I am here.
What has kept me going after my son’s death?
- Accepting the fact there is no escaping grief – and I wouldn’t want to and it would be impossible as long as I love my son. And that is forever. Period.
- Taking care of myself – I quickly learned I had to be good to myself if I were to survive. My needs had to come first or I would have no strength to cope with the grief, much less help others.
- Evolving a relationship with grief – I use the word “evolving” because there is never an end to grief while I am living. I was placed on this dark and sad journey against my will. When I hold back the tears and run from the pain, it catches up with me and takes me down. I try to walk with the grief, to be with it and to transform into a better person because of the grief. I know this allows Logan’s love to work through me.
- Knowing I will get a break from the pain – The agony of losing Logan gets bad, real bad. There are times I want to die. Especially in the days and weeks following Logan’s death, the pain of losing my baby was unbearable beyond words. Somehow I got through it. My grief counselor, also a bereaved parent, told me when the emotional pain hits 100 on a scale of 1 to ten, just hang on, a break will come in between the waves (sometimes tidal waves) of grief. She was right and knowing there will be a break gets me through the worst of times.
- Seeking the support and friendship of other bereaved parents – Grieving parents are not alone. We understand each other when our friends and loved ones can not possibly get it and we would not want them to experience our pain.
- Changing up cocktail hour – I could not build my grief muscles on wine alone. So I replaced cocktail hour with an evening bootcamp physical fitness routine and then it became a part of my life. The endorphins kick-start my thinking into a more hopeful place.
- Finding a spiritual path – I am struggling with this. It’s hard to be thankful and grateful when my child is dead. I want to scream at others when they say, “He’s in a better place, or everything happens for a reason, or God is in control.” I believe in God. I am a Christian. But Logan’s death has caused me to question everything and delve deeper along my path. This is not a bad thing. One thing I know for sure is love has got something to do with it. Forgiveness too.
- Doing something for others – I don’t have the will or energy to move mountains or start big life-saving causes like some bereaved parents do. But I can send a text message of support to a friend or check in on my elderly neighbor next door to make sure she is o.k. It’s the little things that count. They build to big things.
- Connecting with loved ones – I accept opportunities and invitations to get out and live. As time goes on, people don’t reach out as much as they did right after Logan died. I can’t expect them too. I have to meet friends and loved ones half-way, and sometimes all the way to keep the connections alive. While some alone time is necessary, isolation is not good.
- Making the best of the time I have left – The death of Logan punched my soul with the grim reality that life is short. There is no guarantee of a tomorrow for any of us. I embrace those fleeting moments of joy when they come…to love, to live, to be grateful and thankful. To make my son proud and honor his memory and purpose.
I believe the grace of God keeps bereaved parents going when the unimaginable happens. We breath, we get up, we crawl, we stand and then we walk…barely at first. The point is we survive the death of our children. We can even thrive along our grief journey. That’s my hope…by, Logan’s mom.
I dedicate this post to a very special Momma who lost her baby during pregnancy. She is new to the grief journey, but not alone on the path.
Resources that have greatly helped me:
5 thoughts on “What has kept me going after my son’s death”
Great insight and inspiration for those who have lost and will lose loved ones in the future. You are in our thoughts and prayers. If we could do anything, let us know!
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So beautiful Tamara. I feel it. And I know this journey. I didn’t get this at first: ‘I use the word “evolving” because there is never an end to grief while I am living.’ I thought there would come a time when I didn’ think about him every day. I was so wrong about that one. I just got used to living with grief.
I lost my 23 year old son 6 weeks ago, and everyday I want to die. I have another son but the pain just gets too bad sometimes that all I do is think about finally dying and being with my first born son. The grief seems like an endless pool of misery and I can’t see how things can get better. Your strength is encouraging. God Bless
Judy, I am so sorry about your loss. You are so new to the grief trail and I can tell you I felt the exact same way as you did. The only relief I had was knowing there was an end to this life so I could be with Logan. He was my only child. It will be two years for me this coming July 22. You learn to develop a relationship with your grief – because the grief is the love you have for your son. It is so, so hard, but there is support out there to help you live with your grief and grow from your pain. A really good book that helped me is Bearing the Unbearable and there are some good grief counselors too who can serve as your guides on your journey. It is hard and chaotic and – yes – an endless pool of misery. But you will feel moments of joy and you will realize you are not alone. There are a lot of us bereaved parents on the grief trail. And we have a common and deep understanding. We connect in ways that no one else can. You will survive this, even if it is just a breath at a time. Hold on! Breaks come along the way to give you strength for the next wave that hits. All you can do is survive, take a step at a time. And eventually, you will transform. God Bless and reach out anytime. I am usually up late checking emails and posts. Love and peace!