Have you ever had a friend who lost a child? You send your condolences, attend the funeral, make a few phone calls to make sure the family is doing all right, and then you go back to living your own lives. “Love lives on,” and people move on. This is as it should be. But, unfortunately, those of us who have lost a child, separated from life as we know it, must now begin a life of trials and tribulations. The trials are getting past the “Woulda,” “Coulda,” “Shouldas.” The tribulations are as simple as waking up to the morning and facing yet another day of praying for the strength to move forward. This in itself is a huge accomplishment!
Two years ago this September, my son, Brice, shot and killed himself at the age of 23 over the breakup with a girlfriend. He was in a chat room with 23 people watching him on his cam. Most tried very hard to stop him, but he had already made up his mind as to how he would end his pain. I can see him sitting there telling himself, “It will only hurt for a second,” and he would be free from the agony that tormented him. I often think back to my own disasters with relationships wherein I too thought I wanted to end my pain. But, in all honesty, I was “afraid” to hurt myself. I do not see my son as a coward for choosing to take his life. I truly believe his pain bore the courage for him to make a decision that he felt was a solution to his sorrow. It may not be a solution to most “rational” people, but for those of us who are left behind, picking up the pieces, we learn to rationalize situations through our tragedies and find insight in having to survive our loss.
Sally Fields said it best in the movie Steel Magnolias when she was told she should rejoice in her daughter’s death because her daughter was now with her king! Fields’ character’s response, as mine is, “I’m selfish. I would rather have her here with me!”
Most of my friends and family have distanced themselves from me because they don’t know what they can say to make my journey easier. And if I have to be honest, I would have pushed them away anyway because I know that I am the only one, with God’s help, who has a prayer of teaching me to live again and to learn to feel anything for myself. At this point, I am not “Stuck on Stupid,” I am stuck on “Finding Reasons to Move Forward.” Therapy, suicide grief groups, medications, and more therapy have accomplished little to nothing for me compared to the heartfelt words from those of The Compassionate Friends. Talking with others who share my journey, share my tears, and are honest enough to admit their despair without passing judgment on one’s weaknesses . . . encouraging words of heartfelt wisdom from others who have suffered the one lesson in life none of us want to face.
For me, “going through the motions” is not living life. I battle the yearning of wanting to hold my son every second of every minute of every hour of every day! Every morning when I wake, I hate the thought of struggling through feeling the same today as I did yesterday. And on those days when I feel tired and beaten, and can no longer stand on the front line and fight yet another day of pain . . . I step back, breathe, and pray that God will pull me through.
There is no rhyme or reason for our suffering. I don’t pretend to understand this thing called “life.” And some days I curse the day I was born if I was meant to live “life” only to learn its sorrows. But it is what it is, and there’s a driving force in all of us to push forward, even when we think there is no reason to continue. Even through our tears and the worst of times, we remember our blessings just as much as we grieve our losses.
The knowledge is within all of us that life is worth living, even through our grief. I will always cherish the memory of my son with no regrets, for I honestly feel that I would rather have given birth to him and shared his life with him, even for a short time, than to never have been given the chance to have known how wonderful he truly is. Even when love hurts, my broken heart is a small price to pay for the joy he brought to me and the memories I will carry with me throughout the remainder of my life.
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