Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Wednesday's Woe



The Third Year of Grief..."We Should Be Over It!" ???

Last week my husband and I went to a holiday party. We enjoyed the food, piano music, and visiting with friends. As we prepared to leave, a friend asked what I was doing these days. When I told her we were raising our twin grandchildren because their parents had died in separate car crashes, her jaw dropped.

"That's unbelievable," she said.

Another person overheard our conversation and was obviously uncomfortable with my honesty. This is not the first time this has happened. Years ago, I had a similar experience. I answered a question honestly and a guest commented, "Please don't spoil the party." She was partially right. There is a time and place to tell your story, but sometimes you tell it because you are surprised or caught off guard.

You have a story to tell. But Vamik D. Vokan, MD and Elizabeth Zintl, in their book Life After Loss, say the American culture prohibits the expression of grief. "We are a culture of death deniers," they write. Death deniers, which may include family members and friends, do not want any connection with your pain. Yet you must tell your story in order to cope, do your grief work, and create a new life.

Grief changes you forever. Not telling your story is to deny your identity and life experience. Though you are temporarily lost in the darkness, telling your story helps you find your way through grief. At least, that is my experience after losing four loved ones in nine months.

~Harriet Hodgson quoting "JoAnne," How Long Should You Tell Your Grief Story? 12/22/09


Word has it, some folks think my grief is in slow motion...
Well that's putting it mildly.
To put it bluntly, they think,

"You mean she is not over it?!"


Really now, do they think I should

be "Over" the Grief of Losing My Child?!

Yes, Grief is Slow!

Yes, I am in a Bad Way!

Yes, I am in a lot of pain!

But really now, you think I should be over the loss of my 19-year-old baby girl who was my heart and soul, and the apple of my eye?!

If I really wanted to be ugly about it, I might say something tacky that a little southern, Georgia peach would never say, like,

"Well golly, you must not love your kids then, because if any of them died, then 3 years later, you would never, EVER be 'over' losing them!"


Dealing with the land-of-the-living when you are walking through the Valley-of-the-Shadow-of-Death can be confusing at the very least, and at times, downright infuriating. If I sense even an inkling of the "you-ought-to-be-over-it" nonsense coming from a colleague, friend, or family member, I do my best to stay FAR AWAY from that person. No thank you, I don't have any more room for any additional toxins on my plate. Loss of a child is quite enough, thank you. No room for ignorance, judgmentalism, or the shallow thinking that if-you-have-God-in-your-life-then-all-should-be-peachy-keen...

I wonder, did they ever REALLY examine Jesus' life? I mean, He was God's own Son, and yet all-was-NOT-peachy-keen in His life on this earth, my dear!

And to top it all, if you read your Bible, you will find

Jesus Himself reminded us, His dearly beloved children, over and over, in-effect,

Your lives here on Earth will NOT be "peachy-keen"!

We are to expect


Bearing our cross,

Not getting the completion of the promise this side of Heaven,

etc., etc., etc.


So Grief itself is crazy-making enough. I don't need anyone to pile on, thank you very much.

Thank goodness I ran across this book this month, What Forever Means With the Death of a Child, in the midst of my debilitating grief that was throwing out spiritual warfare, anxiety attacks, and mental quagmires that were almost impossible to find my way out of...

In this book, I found an "answer" to "explain" my mind-blowing grief. Kay Talbot is a grieving mother and a very thorough psychotherapist, articulating beautifully this world-of-grief we child-loss parents find ourselves in. In her book, she reveals some child-loss research that aligns with my current reality:

The average parent going through child-loss grief Bottoms Out at the Third Year (at least in regard to the difficulty of being able to see any semblance of purpose for their lives...). My interpretation of this research is

Child-Loss Grief Bottoms Out Around Year Three...

and around year three is exactly where I am!

This research helps me feel

I am not really going crazy... This Hellatious-kind of Grief is par-for-the-course with child-loss!


As far as I can tell, my spiritual source, Jesus, tells me I am going through the expected hell that comes with living on this earth...

And my psychological research source, Dr. Kay Talbot, tells me that I am going through the expected hell that comes with living with this child-loss grief!


I feel like the Tennessee moon-shiner, Popcorn Sutton: Being that his career was illegal and thus inadvertently attracted many unwelcome parties to snoop around his life, he hung a sign on his shed that I sometimes would like to borrow...It reads, in effect,


Maybe my husband will make us a sign to put on our gate that says,



Now, isn't that a sweet little thought from this Georgia peach!



pearl said...

I know what you're talking about. Some people are so insensitive to your loss and wonder why you can't just snap out of it already. It has only been less than two months since our daughter died, and some seem to think we should be "over it" by now. Wrong....
Although we had some time to prepare for her death, unlike you (I can only imagine the pain you have been going thru)
Tears wellin up...
Your Merry Katherine was so beautiful, energetic, full of life, vibrant, and cheerful
and I'm sure the hurt of losing such a wonderful daughter never ends.
Our child had been sick for awhile; and we knew she was going to die soon, but it still is such a loss and void in your life.
My husband has taken her death a lot harder than I have. He weeps at just the thought of her.
We go out to her grave EVERY day and take our lawn chairs. We are trying to keep her grave site "clean" as that song you played from B.B. King says. ;o)
We water her plants, and the new sod that we placed, mow and clip the grass around her stone; make sure there is no leaves, dirt, etc. on it. She has the greenest grass in the whole cemetery. ha
There are days when we just unlock our gate for an hour or two and dare anyone to try to come in.ha
Well, just know that I read your blogs, can relate to how you must feel, and appreciate your honesty and compassion in posting your heartfelt grieving process for those of us who need some encouragement also.
Prayers & love for you both,
pearl (another grieving parent)

Grieving Mother/Therapist, Angie Bennett Prince said...


You are so precious! Thank you for reading my blog and for sharing your invaluable comments.

My heart breaks for you in your loss of your precious Rhonda. What a gift she was to you, and what a gift you were to her. My precious handicapped brother is my best friend in all the world (apart from my sweetest husband in all the world of course!), and any time I have spent helping him has ministered to me much more than it could ever minister to him. I came close to losing him a year ago, and it nearly broke my heart. But with the Lord's grace and mercy, he survived against all the odds stacked against him, thank the dear Lord. (I cried out to God, "I just can't lose another loved one so soon, Lord!") He is one of the few people in this world who "gets it" regarding my loss of Merry Katherine. He sent me the sweetest letter about how hard it is going to be for me to, like him, find myself being "IMMOBILE IN A MOBILE WORLD." I cry even as I tell you this. If you would like, I could email you a copy; I don't think he would mind as he has such a giving and humble heart. He has been the greatest gift to our family we could ever have received from God.

Please know that my heart is grieving with you over your great loss of your baby girl. I am sure Merry Katherine is having a ball playing with her now, and that Our Lord is having a ball just watching them play in their newfound grace, healing, and freedom! My tears are rolling down my cheeks as I think of it...

Much, much love to you sweet Pearl,


Post a Comment