by | Apr 16, 2020 | Uncategorized

“The pain passes, but the beauty remains”.

—Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919

I cannot tell you the shock of one day your child is living and the next she is dead. Never mind the circumstances. First there is mindboggling numbness. I could feel nothing except denial… It can’t be true that my daughter is dead; I am in a living nightmare. Mind-altering numbness, I couldn’t think, take care if my body, interact with anyone. Worst of all were all the inane comments people make to you out of their own pain and discomfort! I have not lost my mind so why would you say such stupid things to me like, “She’s in a better place,” or “I understand how you feel.” Like hell you understand how I feel! It sucked all of my energy out of my body and it took Herculean effort just to walk from one room to another.

Then my mind, body and emotions awaken and all there was was pain. I cried and cried and cried until there are no more tears to cry.

Washington Irving said this about crying: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. tears speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love.”

I did not feel powerful, I wanted to die! Most of the tears were silent and alone because I was ashamed to let anyone see me so vulnerable, but not always. One day it was a beautiful day, and I went to McDonalds to get some breakfast and as I was sitting there eating my sandwich, a memory of Tammy snuck up on me and I cried out of the blue. I felt my face fill with shame because I couldn’t control the tears. To make matters worse, a good friend from out of town was there and when he saw me he came over to comfort me. Again, I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I put him in the position to “feel” for me. I could give myself permission to deal with my feeling, but it was so hard to deal with other’s feelings about the situation too.

I could not focus on anything for any length at a time, I forgot appointments, lethargy settled upon me. I had hardly enough energy to get dressed, cook a meal, let alone think clearly about anything. I forgot to pay bills. When I think of that time period I do not remember most of it. I checked out of my body. I wanted to be mad at God, but a part of me knew that he knew what was best and Tammy’s suffering was over. But it didn’t make the pain go away. Maybe I could take drugs or drink, but I knew that wasn’t for me. I realized I had to surrender to my grief and understood there was no shortcut through this despair. Some days I thought I was going crazy as I would be fine one moment and on my knees the next. The unpredictability of grief was driving me nuts! I expected the emotional component, but the physical devastation it took on me left me un-centered and debilitated.

My heart broke, and I didn’t know how to put it back together again. I just prayed my life would not stick in this grief and God would get me through it.

I get out from under the shock enough to realize I needed to express my grief, and I write and write. I told Tammy’s story and my journey with her through her life, and I could see the light in the world. I was gentle and patient with myself. If I needed to sleep, I slept. If I didn’t feel like being social, I wasn’t social. No apologies, I had to do what I had to do to survive. I attempted to eat right and exercise as much as I could, and selfishly all I could manage was focusing on my needs and me. All I could do was give myself permission to experience the pain and not allow myself to fall into the “what if” trap. I allowed loved ones to surround myself when I could; it was ok that it was not always. All I could do was cling to hope. I will get better. There will come a time when I will find some joy in life again. I know it has changed forever my life, and I can never fill the void left by my daughter’s death, but I pray I will learn to live with it.
I had no choice but to trust the grief process and cling to the hope I would survive and that God had plans for my life. It was hard to see those plans out of the darkness. Just when I thought things were getting better a deep depression descended upon me.

I could remember nothing; my thoughts were doom and gloom. I could see nothing positive about life. There was one part of me observing… so this is what depression is like, another part experiencing. I went to the Dr.; he put me on an antidepressant. My body hated the antidepressant, yet I couldn’t climb out of the dark hole I was in by myself. I hold on to the faith that I will work through the depression. Each day for God to lift the depression and he does.

I am changed, a transformation has happened. There are moments when grief springs up, but they are fewer and fewer. There are good times with my daughter, which were happy. I let go of the sorrows she brought into my life. I am free from the pain of seeing my daughter suffer from addiction and being helpless to prevent it. My daughter is in a better place, free from the pain of her life on earth, her life of struggle with addiction; her learning of forgiveness was meaningful. I have empathy and understanding of what it is like to be in a dark place and feel you cannot get out and now I can recognize grief in others whether it is grieving the loss of a person or grieving the loss of something in a person’s life. I thank God for that blessing in all of this, and I wear my newfound wisdom with humility.