A few weeks after my daughter died, a friend called, which was actually a rare occasion after I lost my daughter. He apprehensively asked how I was. He then proceeded to tell me he’d been waiting for the call in the middle of the night where I’d turned to the bottle and was at rock bottom. He’d been waiting for me to come to him at the end of my rope.
I was never a huge drinker, so it’s not like that was even a normal coping skill for me. He told me that’s what he’d do. I tried to explain to him that it probably wasn’t what he’d do.
I’ve had some dark moments since my daughter died. I’ve cried lots. I’ve barely gotten out of bed, but I haven’t been drunk since she died.
Sometimes people tell me that if they were in my shoes they just wouldn’t be able to go on or something along those lines. I understand that losing a child is the worst possible fear for most parents. I get that they think they wouldn’t be able to go on, but they would. It makes me feel bad, like they think I’m not sad enough or freaking out enough.
Other times the opposite happens, I once got word that at a party I wasn’t at, among people I actually barely knew, the conversation turned to me and why I wasn’t over it. This was within a year of my daughter’s death. They all gossiped about how I should be “moving on.”
I don’t use the word hate that much, but I hate that phrase. Moving on. My daughter died. I didn’t get dumped by a boyfriend or lose a job.
I got a bit angry when I heard a report of their conversation, but now I realize, they just don’t get it. You can’t understand what it’s like to lose a child until you’ve been here. I don’t wish this on anyone, so I’m glad they’re so clueless. I don’t care how other people think I’m coping. All that matters is that I’m okay with how I’m coping, and I am.
I have had my moments. Just last month I was in some serious mental health trouble.
As sad and awful as this is, my daughter’s life was beautiful. My daughter was beautiful. I cling to that.
While it’s a natural reaction to try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes when you hear about something, in this case, you can’t even begin to.
No, I didn’t have some late night crisis spinning out of control with a bottle of booze at my side, but yes, it’s still three years later and I’m not moving on.
But you know what?
I am still standing.
Photo from Flickr Creative Commons by Pete Anderson