Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wednesday's Woe - "A Missing": Living with the Permanent Gap ~Tommy and Angie Prince

"You think that their 
dying is the worst 
thing that could happen.

Then they stay dead.

~Donald Hall, poet, from "Distressed Haiku"

Wednesday's Woe

"A Missing": Living with the Permanent Gap

~Tommy and Angie Prince

We have mentioned before the impact on parents of losing a child is so strong and so wrong that it would be like a law of physics being altered, and then trying to continue to live with that law of physics no longer being true. For example, what would happen if the gravitational pull on earth were to change, how would we then live? What if the availability of oxygen in the atmosphere were suddenly to change, would we be so shocked that everybody's lives would be turned upside down? Welcome to the world of a parent losing a child.

There is an ever-present sense of a gap in my life. There is this whole sense of wrongness that I carry around with my sadness. Now, continue to live, and I feel like I am up against something as strong as a violation of a natural law. How do you live when a natural law has been violated?

What drives Angie to look at artwork during any available free time? For now, she says that is one of the few things that soothes her. She also wonders if it is another way to "find" her baby girl for she finds herself looking for artwork that captures Merry Katherine, or for pictures that could at least pass for Merry Katherine at any and all ages, from baby to young child, and so on up to age nineteen. Or at least pictures that represent the vibrant lifestyle that was unique to her while she was here on this earth.

There is "A Missing" that is ever present and that demands to be soothed. It is an active, living thing that seeks to be fed, if not on a daily basis, at least on an every-other day basis. 

There is something that is so wrong that has happened. How do we right that wrong? 

It's like everybody else gets to live on earth and flourish in the current laws of nature and physics, but a bereaved parent has been moved onto the moon where all the oxygen has been sucked out of the atmosphere. The gravitational pull is non-existent; it alters everything about how you live. You cannot go out unless you are in a self-contained spacesuit. The liveable temperature, the oxygen, the gravitational pull are all missing. 

Such an environment demands change, and no one would fault the person who makes those changes. They wouldn't accuse such a person of "not moving on." 

It is not that there's a "new normal" for a grieving parent; it is a "new reality"! It is as though the laws of physics and nature no longer apply. We are upside down in an uprighted world, and we find we cannot breathe. Our hearts are not at rest without a soothing and gentle atmosphere that allows time for our grief. What is important to everyone else is not important to us. Our hearts now take first-place, no matter what else is going on. Our hearts have been devastated, and they must be soothed, nurtured, and protected.

There is a total reconstruction of reality with which we must contend. And we are still trying to find out:

What are the laws of  this Child-Loss land? 

What should they be so that we can survive in this now-ravaged land?

"My grief lies all within,
And these external manners of lament 
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief
That swells with silence in the tortured soul."

~William Shakespeare

Picture of Donald Hall's excerpt from "Distressed Haiku" and Excerpt from William Shakespeare: thanks to ~M for the Survivors on Pinterest 


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