The Silent Sobbing:
Whom Can You Trust to Understand Your Grief?
~by Angie and Tommy Prince
"What time was this?" he asks, and his voice is kind, as it has been throughout this interview, but I can't answer him. The day you were found, time went demented; a minute lasted half a day, an hour went past in seconds. Like a children's storybook, I flew in and out of weeks and through the years---second star to the right and straight on to a morning that would never arrive. I was in a Dali painting of drooping clocks, a Mad-Hatter's tea party time. No wonder Auden said, "Stop all the clocks"; it was a desperate grab for sanity.
"I don't know what time it was," I reply…. "Time didn't mean anything to me anymore. Usually time alters and affects everything, but when someone you love dies, time cannot change that---no amount of time will ever change that---so time stops having any meaning.
"(G)rief is love turned into an eternal missing."
~page 55, Sister: A Novel, by Rosamund Lupton (2010)
Rita Coolidge sings,
"I can tell by your eyes that you've probably been crying forever."
Why can other people not see that? That's what Tommy and I see every time we look into our mirror... Losing a child, we face the ultimate terror of the foreverness of never seeing that child again. And the amazing thing is that the psychological defenses go to work. Otherwise, you would never be able to function. Who can bear the loss of a child? You could never function under such pain.
So what happens is that the pain goes underground. There is always a silent sobbing going on with a bereaved parent. So how can you really be expected to function like you used to when you are crying all the time inside?
When you read about a mother losing two (2) children as I just did in an e-mail, your insides are crying out such that it opens up that deep well of grief. How can you speak and weep at the same time? So I don't even try. I may have to let days, sometimes even weeks pass before I can speak to such deep pain.
So you can imagine my dismay when I was talking on the phone to a close relative, one of the few left that I think I can trust emotionally as she too has experienced deep grief, when I heard her say to me the hackneyed phrase,
"You need to be here for those still here rather than for those who aren't."
As if I wouldn't love to do both!!!
Why do people think "logic" is going to prevail in a battle with the emotions??? Logic cannot capture our deep grief; it cannot even come close. It certainly cannot overcome our grief, nor our great love for our child, whether she is in Heaven or still on earth. She cannot and will not be dismissed so lightly, nor should she even be put in such a position! She is my child and always will be whether you accept it or not. She will always hold my heart, in many ways even more now than when she was here. Do you really think I could make a logical decision to "move on" away from my child? Never in a million years! My heart is ingrained with hers; it is longing for her. The world is not as it should be, and I am groaning. Even my God has said I would groan until the day of redemption of all His children. Who are you to defy God? What selfish wish are you trying to project on this broken heart? Keep it to yourself, or better yet work through it; don't pawn it off on me!
All I said to her was,
"That sounds real good in theory, but it just doesn't work that way."
(Who ARE these people who think they can counsel someone in Child-Loss when they've never been there themselves?) She had lost a brother when he was only eleven years old---perhaps she was wanting me to correct her own mother's grief. NO CAN DO! Each mother's grief is her own, and each person grapples with such disaster the best they can. The living children around that grief-struck mother will doubtless be affected; how could they not? But don't think a grieving mother can compromise her grieving heart just to make you feel that life can still be idyllic when that mother now knows, really knows, different.
There's a brokenness and a weeping always going on in a grieving parent. Where do I go with my brokenness? NO ONE seems to understand unless they've truly been there. And even then…we may be rendered speechless by one another's pain.
Who can you trust to understand these things about your grief? Is it any wonder I tend to hibernate with my husband who "gets it" with his own broken heart, with my sons who too are still so broken-hearted over losing their only sister who was so lively, so radiant, so full of love and laughter..., with you, my readers---likewise grieving parents, or those who humbly want to understand us, with my clients who also are dealing with their own hurts and losses in life, and with my Lord who knows my pain by His own Child-loss pain. My silent sobbing is, thankfully, understood deeply by these...