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What You Hang On To After Losing a Child

There is an unexplainable hollowness that comes with losing a child. I’ve heard loss-moms explain it as a hole in their heart or an empty feeling. I’ve searched for words to do it justice but haven’t found one yet. You grow a child and birth them and before you see how their hair touches their shoulders, or if their laugh turns into yours, they’re drifting away and you’re holding the tiniest thread of what you once had. (Written by Jessica Watson from Four Plus an Angel.)

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To survive you tell yourself they’re holding this thread too, through pinched together fingers or a chubby fist or the growing hands you’ve imagined. Some days you might be the only one remembering, or at least it feels that way. On those days you need reassurance that the child who left was ever here at all and the thread you’re holding is proof.

When your child first passed away you thought sure you were going somewhere too, you were drifting further from here and closer to there but you fell hard right where you were needed; a place unfathomably far. The thread you share makes you different and less whole and often dangling mid-air, but at some point your feet feel the ground again. You reach for your thread and get up when pain pushes you down because loss taught you the art of holding tight.

You tie your thread to your wrist and learn not to feel awkward about taking it out and spilling it through the air. Continue reading

The New Normal

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Once someone we love has died, our new normal is something completely different from anything we have known before. We are different than we were before. Our lives are different than they were before. “Normal” seems like something far, far away.  Unfortunately, this is the new normal.  Losing someone you love dearly, who was an integral part of your life, is an intense and incredibly difficult experience.  Often, bereaved people find that their grief can be misunderstood by others who have not experienced the same kind of loss or who have not yet faced the death of someone they love deeply or who was an integral part of their lives.  Sometimes in grief, it can seem nearly impossible to understand yourself, much less find others who can understand.

(This guest post is an excerpt of an article written by Karla Helbert, LPC, a therapist and grief counselor in Richmond, Virginia. The original article can be found here.) 

If this is the first time you are experiencing the loss of a loved one, or if you are having difficulty understanding the intensity of your grief in this loss, you may feel completely alone, confused and possibly afraid.  You may be experiencing thoughts, feelings, and unusual phenomena you never have experienced before.  You should know that in light of what has happened,  the things you are experiencing are normal.  The pain and symptoms of grief impact every area of your life. Your body, mind, thoughts, feelings, and spirit.  The journey of grief is difficult, but it can bring some comfort to know that you are not alone. Information about the normal ways that grief can affect us can be very helpful.  Sadly, though nearly all of us will experience the death of someone we love, and the pain that follows, very rarely does anyone tell us what to expect. Continue reading

The Journey of Grief

Love is essential to the human condition, but to give and receive love also means to be to open to the inevitability of loss and grief. Our hope is that the articles you find on this page will help in some way to guide and comfort you during your own journey of grief, and as you walk along the path to healing.

Earl Grollman wrote, “Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”

The grieving process is a complex one, however. No two people experience it the same way, or on the same schedule. It is okay to cry, it is okay to rage, and it is okay to feel temporarily numb. It is healing to allow yourself to feel and express whatever complex emotions you encounter. Hiding from your feelings, however, can have a negative impact on your well-being.

Healing can be found at times by being alone, and at times by being with other people. It important to find companions that are “safe,” who will provide support and a listening ear as you process your changing emotions.

Grief can also occur in waves, with levels that fluctuate over time. There will be moments when it comes flooding back with fresh intensity. Tracy, a mother who lost a teenage daughter, suggests than when those waves hit you just “ride them out” until it passes.

Over time it will become easier to cope with your grief but it will remain, just as your love for the departed will remain. Cassandra Clare wrote in Clockwork Prince, “They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite.”

Jill Powell, a writer from the website “Walking With Drake”, described it as this, “Grief does change over time, but it is always there. At first it is totally life altering. The grief is so heavy that you can barely lift your head. Over time it becomes like a burn. Always there, but with varying intensity. Eventually it scars. The scar is always present. You can see it, you can feel it with your hand, but it doesn’t hurt anymore unless you press really hard….then it’s more like a numbness.”

Eventually, as unfathomable as it may seem at first, you will heal. You will also be different from what you were before. Well-known author Anne Lamott wrote, “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

Be kind to yourself as you undergo this process. Search for moments of beauty and comfort in your day. Most of all, remember this: love changes us, and loss changes us, but one day you will dance again.

Written by Jennifer Roberts Bittner
Funeral Celebrant and Life Tribute Specialist


Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234

 

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