The majority of this population has heard about the term “Stages of Grief”. Some have not had to live them. Others, like myself, know them too well. Some stages were much harsher than I expected. Some stages have seemed to linger on longer than I wanted them to. Others have ripped me through the core. Yet, there was one stage that I didn’t ever imagine I would go through. No one ever told me about it. When I first felt it, I was taken aback. I was actually shocked and quite angry at myself for even feeling this one emotion. Maybe I am the only one, which makes it even more disgusting. To even admit that I felt like this, is quite horrifying for me. But, if I don’t share this here…then where??
A couple of weeks ago, I was in a weekly staff meeting. These meetings start with some sort of ice breaker. A way for the group to get to know a little bit more about ourselves. The moderator starts with a question and everyone gets a chance to answer. This question was “Tell us about a moment or event that made such an impact, you will remember for the rest of your life.” I sat there feeling a bit anxious. Was I going to cry when it was my turn? Were some of these people going to share a sad memory that would make it even harder for me to share mine? I waited for my turn. I wanted this over! Then, as people starting answering, my anxiety level grew but not because of what I was going to say, but because of what they were sharing with us! Each and every person described a moment of joy and elation. There were the “The moment I saw my child being born.” “The day my husband proposed to me”.” When I received my college degree and my parents were so proud.” “The day my father walked me down the aisle.” I was shocked with myself. Had no one experienced death or was I just a pathetic soul?
Not one person had a devastating event take up their front and foremost region of their brain or heart! Each time a new memory was shared group laughed, and oohed and aahed. Then, it was my turn and that is when I felt it. The ugliest stage I have felt. I was embarrassed! I thought about pulling into my memory bank and sharing the day my children were born or holding one of my grand babies for the first time. Maybe the day I saw my daughter marry her greatest love or the day I married mine but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to share that. I was ashamed when I realized that those beautiful, happy, blissful memories no longer took front row center. The day Joey died is THE event…THE moment…the life changing occurrence that I will never forget and will stand out for the rest of my life.
I had to take a deep breath. I didn’t look anyone in the face. I started slowly. ” The cell phone rang. My husband answered it. We pulled over on the side of the freeway… right under the ‘Happiest Place on Earth” sign. I remember the dead weeds and trash under the truck. The cars whizzing by. My husband looking at me, the color drained from his face and saying ‘Joey is dead’. I remember the dreadful scream coming out from my mouth. The banging on the dashboard. I remember the denial laugh because for a quick moment I hoped it was a very sick joke and the pain setting in the moment I realized it wasn’t. The day I lost my Joey is MY unforgettable memory.” No one said a word. Some smiled weakly, others looked down. I began to feel sorry that I shared my memory because I made them uncomfortable. For a split second, I felt sorry for myself. I was ashamed of my story! After a moment or two of silence, the next person started. Then , like nothing, continued right where they had left off before me. Stories of joy.
I sat silently and wondered if they forgot. Maybe they assumed that it’s been over a year, my time is up…I need to move on. Did they feel sorry for my loss or sorry that I seemed to be stuck in this place of hurt and grief. Did they pity me? I struggled the remaining of the evening as I nervously recalled that event. Obviously, it made a great impact because here I am, weeks later, and I still struggle with it.
I believe and have strongly declared that as a parent who has lost their child, I have the right to not really care if someone is uncomfortable with my story. They may choose to walk away, or I can chose not to share. I chide myself for forgetting that. I was mad that I let someone who felt ill at ease make me feel embarrassed of my loss…and even madder that they don’t understand my pain. I am upset that I made them believe my life is consumed with sadness and pain and that I didn’t get to share my many happy memories. Memories that I cherish and that I hold on to for dear life. Memories that are so magical, they make my shattered heart smile. And how beautifully wonderful that many of those memories include those we made with Joey.
My Best Memories Are The Ones We Made With You..
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