Out of Your Mind

“You need to put it out of your mind. That’s what I did when my mother was murdered.”

“You didn’t carry your mother in your womb. She wasn’t your child. You don’t know what it’s like to lose a child.

“I think I have P.T.S.D. because I watched his body eaten alive…. I’ll be quiet now.”

I no longer engaged in conversation with him. I know, now, that I cannot talk with him about my constant sorrow.

I invited a neighbor over who lost her daughter 4  or 5 years ago to lung cancer. Her daughter was considerably older than my son. Her daughter left behind a husband and grown children, unlike my son who left behind a 2 and 4 year old.

My neighbor was not a source of consolation. Even after all these years, our conversation brought her to tears.

I’m learning that this realm of sorrow is a lonely place.

BAR_LINE

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7 responses to “Out of Your Mind

  1. I have a friend who lost her son about 6-7 years ago in a rock-climbing accident. She still talks as if his death was days ago. Everyone has their own timetable with grief. Go at your own pace. Talk to a professional if you need to. Pray. Peace to you…

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  2. Two serious points. 1) My mother refused to move forward after my dad died. She could have. She had a great network of friends and sisters (and me), a fine education, a record of service to others (she had been an elementary school teacher; at another point in her life she set up Omaha’s first daycare center). She made a few steps forward and actually felt happiness but then it was more difficult for her to continue being happy than it was to resign herself to her feelings of having been cheated. She chose — and I watched her — to abandon her faith, to view others with envy, suspicion and bitterness, and to drink herself to death. She chose it. I do not know if she felt it was betraying my dad or if she felt guilty over something secret, but she made that choice. 2) My grandmother — my dad’s mom — made the opposite choice. My dad was 46 when he died. My grandmother had already lost her husband (he was 55 at the time he died). She lived to be 92. I saw her choose, too, and we talked about things, about life and how to live years forward from crushing, heartbreaking disappointment and loss. Besides her terrible sorrow over losing her son (with whom she was very close and who she watched deteriorate year by year with MS) was her perspective on life. It was “This cannot happen again.” When she was 9, she lost her mom to diabetes. Her father died a couple of years later in an accident. She was raised by aunts and her older brother. Her life was loss upon loss upon loss, yet she retained this marvelous resilience. When she was 92 I was visiting her. By then she was deaf and blind and all her friends were dead. In her 60s she’d been a champion tango dancer (?) — I didn’t know this until a couple of years ago, actually. Anyway, we were sitting together in the kitchen of my aunt’s house. A tango came on the radio. My grandmother said, “Martha Ann, do you tango?” “No, I don’t know how.” “I’ll teach you.” This brittle, graceful, very old woman stood up, held out her arms and taught me to tango.

    Those two women are in front of me whenever I lose something precious. My mom, choosing darkness and the identification with pain and loss, and my grandmother choosing light and choosing to tango.

    Putting something behind you doesn’t mean forgetting about it. I don’t think my grandmother ever forgot my dad or what happened to him and I certainly haven’t, but I think it does mean what my grandmother said to me that day of my dad’s funeral. “This cannot happen again.”

    I’ve had friends tell me that my life has been dark and “harrowing” (the word one friend used and I resented). At this point I haven’t met anyone who has not had a harrowing life. I don’t think there is such a life. I think we’re all tasked with as much — or more than — we can bear. Now, where I live, where people are more isolated, more lonely and more open, I’ve heard stories that are almost beyond belief. I’ve also seen in everyone’s eyes the expectation that I have these stories, too, and I’ve seen the willingness to treasure me because I’ve hurt. So, I offer these things to you for whatever help they may or may not give you. You are alive right now. You’ve been through hell. You’re not there now. You’re scarred (literally and psychologically and probably spiritually) and it takes time to heal. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting. It just means “This won’t happen again” and my God, what a beautiful morning it is after all. ❤

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  3. Thank you, Martha, for sharing such a personal story. You are so correct about “choosing” how to deal with such deep losses. Having passed the three month anniversary of Mike’s passing, I was surprised at how raw my feelings remain.

    For the most part, I am being productive during each day, but sometimes, the sorrow barges in when I least expect it and I feel caught off-guard and swirl and twirl as if I’m being sucked down a draining bathtub uncontrollably. I need to have a weapon ready for those times and I think you taught me that I already have a weapon and its name is “choice.”

    Although I often wish I could have traded places with Mikey, the fact is that I am still here, I have three other sons and their families who are precious in my life. How disappointed they would be if I chose to surrender and be consumed by grief and wallow in self-pity and uselessness.

    This is more difficult than when I was widowed when Mikey was only eight years old, but I got through that and I will get through this.

    Thank you again, for that one word, “choice,” it contains the power as to how I will live through this.

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  4. It was a great sorrow and loss to me that my mom chose as she did. I would like to have known her (really) and to have had a relationship with her (as adults). Until I understood her choice – that she had chosen – I felt lost, unable to please her, rejected. When I understood it, I felt pity, but… Be patient with yourself. You’ve had a huge loss but it seems you are able to see the others that are around you and to whom you are important. ❤

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