Leslie has asked me to contribute to The Surviving Project and from time to time I will be posting some of my thoughts about grief. I’ve been down the road on this grief journey for almost 10 years and am still walking through it one day at a time. I do want to encourage you in that the grief journey gets a little easier as time goes on. It is a journey that we will never finish this side of heaven, but we can, and should help each other along the path. My children died 4 ½ months apart in separate car accidents. Both had been drinking and neither wore a seat belt. In addition to that, our daughter, Beth, had been battling drug and alcohol addiction for five years before she died. Our son, Luke, had everything going for him and had just met the young woman he wanted to marry. Beth died at 23 years of age, leaving two children. Luke died at 21 years of age, leaving hundreds of friends of all ages. Were their deaths avoidable? Yes, in every way. Were their deaths a form of suicide? I’ll let you decide. In my writings I will not diminish any one’s experience, nor will I make the deaths of my children more than they were. All I know is that, at this stage of my grief journey, I am thankful for this experience in the way that I have gained more compassion for others, found a deep well of strength in myself, and feel compelled to help others who are struggling with grief. In that vein, I have a word to share with you….reconciliation.
This word has been rattling around in my brain for weeks now and it is now ready to come out and make some sense of itself. According to Webster, one definition of reconcile is “to cause to submit to or accept something unpleasant”. Other definitions offer a similar context;”to restore to friendship or harmony, to settle or resolve”.
At the early stages of grief we cannot understand and are unwilling to accept reconciliation. It is just too painful and we have a range of emotions and questions to wrestle with. Our first, last, and most pressing question is, “Why?”. As time goes on, we realize that we will probably never know the answer to that question and we can either make peace with it (reconcile ourselves) or we can let it fester and grow until we become bitter.
Many times I have heard people say that they will never accept the death of a loved one. They feel that in some way, accepting the death would be a betrayal of one so dear. Others feel that they can keep their loved one alive by sheer determination and by keeping the reality of death at bay. Both approaches are futile and exhaust the one who is grieving. Grief is an exhausting emotional job, even in the best of circumstances. Suicide brings its extra load of guilt and shame.
I want to encourage you that it is OK to be angry…..for a while. Be sad…..for a while. Yell into your pillow……for a while. Cry your self dry…..for a while. Stay home…..for a while.
It is OK to reconcile……in a while. Be good to yourself. Take care of yourself. Give yourself time….to reconcile.