Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Bionic Woman of Grief

I'm often asked how long it takes before the grief subsides or recovery takes place. The inquisitors are often newly bereaved parents or those who deeply care for them, wishing things to be as they were before the child died.

This came up today on the MISS Foundation forums- our online support groups. Often, in the midst of intense suffering, it is impossible to imagine that this pain will ever end, that life can ever be normal, that the tears will run dry. Some say it is time that heals. Time allows necessary space, a retreat, from that despair of early grief. But I, as usual, see it differently.

My experience, including the most recent emotional upheaval of the past few weeks, has taught me that, for me- and remember that everyone is different, the pain has not weakened. My grief has not been assuaged. I am still grieving deeply, like I was nearly 14 years ago, for my beloved little girl.  

But, I believe that I have become stronger

That is Chey's gift to me. She has strengthened me as a woman, mother, friend, and human being. Slowly at first, but over time, my grief muscles, started to build. Like a new work out routine, my muscles hurt at first, burned with pain, objecting to the new weight I had to carry. But over time, I became stronger and stronger, eventually withstanding weight (obstacles, challenges, and other grief) in my life that she helped prepare me to carry. I prefer that way. I become stronger rather than to merely have the grief become weaker. In this algorithm, there is actually gain, not loss. 

I would, of course, give back all my superhuman strength to have her back. But I am more whole and more happy today than I would have been without her in my life.

No, it does not always hurt like this. 

It is not how much time has passed, though, that counts. It's what you do with that time.


Debbie said...

Beautifully put Joanne, I never know how to answer a newly bereaved parent when they ask that question, or they are tormented by family or friends with "are you over it yet?" and they are saddened by the inquiry.

Thank you for your insight, thank you for your friendship, thank you for being you!

Terrill said...

Michelle and I lost Mackenzie Renee in March of 2004. I wish I had had your phone number on a book of matches then. I stumbled on your blog this morning, have been engrossed in it for well over 2 hours and am feeling we've lived this parallel life or something. We have both enjoyed dinner at Valentinos in Lincoln, and I imagine you have attended one or two cornhusker games. We both understand loss as it applies to parents who've lost a child...albeit from different perspectives. Namesake just came in yesterday from netflix, add Josh Groban, Dianna Krall, Michael Franks, and Debussey to your music list and we can bore each other for hours discussing pop culture in various stages of life. I have never been to Sedona, but I love the country around the Superstition Mountains, and Apache Junction; Mesa keeps sneaking closer though....

Can we begin a dialogue intended to cultivate a friendship?


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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