Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday's Woe - The Gap

"Consumed By The Clouds Of Grief"
~Danielle Helms

Wednesday's Woe

This week, I received the following writing of "The Gap" from “The Compassionate Friends of Atlanta”:

Sharon Throop wrote on 10/18/09:

WE lost our only daughter, Wendy, 13 years ago the 12th of next month. I was just sent a prose, that sums up so much for so many who walk this road. You may have read it before, but if not, send it on to some of your friends and realize that it sums up the loss of our children.

The Gap

The gap between those who have lost children and those who have not is profoundly difficult to bridge. No one whose children are well and intact can be expected to understand what parents who have lost children have absorbed, what they bear. Our children now come to us through every blade of grass, every crack in the sidewalk, every bowl of breakfast cereal, every kid on a scooter. We seek contact with their atoms - their hairbrushes, toothbrushes, their clothing.

We reach out for what was integrally woven into the fabric of our lives, now torn and shredded. A black hole has been blown through our souls and, indeed,it often does not allow the light to escape. It is a difficult place. For us to enter there is to be cut deeply and torn anew, each time we go there, by the jagged edges of our loss. Yet we return, again and again, for that is where our children now reside. This will be so for years to come and it will change us, profoundly. At some point, in the distant future, the edges of that hole will have tempered and softened, but the empty space will remain--a life sentence.

Our friends will change through this. There is no avoiding it. We grieve for our children in part, through talking about them, and our feelings for having lost them. Some go there with us; others cannot and, through their denial, add a further measure, however unwitting, to an already heavy burden.

Assuming that we may be feeling "better" 6 months later is simply "to not get it."

The excruciating and isolating reality that bereaved parents feel is hermetically sealed from the nature of any other human experience. Thus it is a trap--those whose compassion and insight we most need are those for whom we abhor the experience that would allow them that sensitivity and capacity. And yet, somehow, there are those, each in their own fashion, who have found a way to reach us and stay, to our immeasurable comfort. They have understood, again each in their own way, that our children remain our children through our memory of them. Their memory is sustained through speaking about them and our feelings about their death. Deny this and you deny their life. Deny their life and you have no place in ours.

We recognize that we have moved to an emotional place where it is often very difficult to reach us. Our attempts to be normal are painful, and the day to day carries a silent, screaming anguish that accompanies us, sometimes from moment to moment. Were we to give it its own voice, we fear we would become truly unreachable and so we remain "strong" for a host of reasons even as the strength saps our energy and drains our will. Were we to act out our true feelings, we would be impossible to be with. We resent having to act normal, yet we dare not do otherwise. People who understand this dynamic are our gold standard. Working our way through this over the years will change us as does every experience-- and extreme experience changes one extremely. We know we will have actually managed to survive when, as we have read, it is no longer so painful to be normal. We do not know who we will be at that point nor who will still be with us.

We have read that the gap is so difficult that, often, bereaved parents must attempt to reach out to friends and relatives or risk losing them. This is our attempt. For those untarnished by such events, who wish to know in some way what they, thankfully, do not know, read this. It may provide a window that is helpful for both sides of the gap.

Sharon (Wendy's Mom)

6-18-77 to 11-12-96 to infinity

*Our shining star, yesterday, today and forever*

~reprinted from our "The Compassionate Friends of Atlanta" FB Wall and Discussion Board


"The Gap" describes so well the dilemma we face with our beloved "civilians" who are outside "The Grief War." Some are reaching out to better understand us, always acting "in love." What gifts of comfort they are to us just by loving us at our worst! Others have proven themselves to be unsafe, and for now, we cannot afford to be around them. Our death-poisoned bodies just cannot handle even one iota of toxicity, or we just may go under.

Thank you to Sharon Throop and The Compassionate Friends of Atlanta for "The Gap,"
and a special "Thank you" for the picture and its sentiment to Danielle Helms, a dear friend bonded by "more than the empty ache" for our daughters who died within weeks of one another in 2006.

1 comment:

Janet Oberholtzer said...

Good thoughts!
The grief of losing a child is one I haven't experienced, so don't fully understand. I'm so sorry for your loss of Merry Katherine and how that affects your life everyday.

I have experienced grief in a different area - I received massive injuries from an accident and had to grieve the loss of who I was before, because I now live with pain, limitations and a uniquely shaped leg.
I've found there is also a gap between those that have and haven't experienced trauma - I dealt with both physical trauma and then the following emotional trauma to accept my physical condition.

I also put boundaries up against certain relationships, because of their lack of understanding - I more comfortable now to use those opportunities to share my experience and help them understand the tough journey it's been and will continue to be because of how much it affects my life everyday.

Blessings to you for seeking to help others understand grief - it will make the world a softer place for someone else in the grief war.

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