Almost three and a half years ago I was thrown into the world of the grieving parent. At the time, I was in a highly alert state, taking words that were said to me and dissecting them one by one. Sometimes people said things that I found confusing, and maybe even hurtful. I started reading…
Maybe you’ve heard the lyrics to that song by Alan Jackson? “Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?” He’s talking about September 11, 2001.
I’d dare say there are few of us who do not know exactly where we were and what we were doing. Imprinted with such vivid memory on the heart of most of us are feelings from those moments that we will never, ever forget.
Recently, with the twelfth anniversary of that horrible September day, most media outlets were plastered with their remembrances of 9-11. People talked of how we can never forget; how we will never move on but move forward—united. Pictures of people lost in the terrible attacks on America covered social media walls, television screens and print media.
It’s obvious that September 11, 2001 was a day that changed the world. It changed mine.
So I mean no disrespect when I say that I don’t understand why women and men who lose children are not given the same grace when they think of days that *their* worlds stopped turning…learning the heart was no longer beating…the baby had something that was not compatible with life…there was nothing else that could be done. Those days, as well as what-would-have-should-have-been-birthdays, forever last in a parent’s heart with a sting that most just can’t understand. I’m sort of disappointed that the world can give so much credence and validity and expectation to ‘remembering always’ a day like September 11, 2001 or December 7, 1941, but find those of us remembering other days that forever changed our worlds as unhealthy, stuck and abnormal.
We get angry when it seems like not enough reverence and remembrance is given to days like September 11. As we should. It was a life-changing day that is entitled to remembrance and sanctity.
But you know what?
To me, so was November 29, 2009. So was April 9, 2012.
My world stopped turning those days too. No, not in a big, world-encompassing way.
Just in a ‘those-days-will-always-be-the-days-that-the-hearts-of-my-precious-children-stopped-beating kind of way’.
We’d never, ever contemplate telling the child or spouse of one of the 9-11 victims that they needed to get over missing their mom or dad or spouse…never tell them that their deep and always-changing sense of grief for all they were robbed of is unhealthy or abnormal. Those victims are regarded as valiant and heroic, still after twelve years, and I absolutely agree that they are.
But, I wonder why society feels it’s ok to tell me that missing my sons is not okay? That to still miss them four years and one year later is unhealthy and it’s time to stop grieving? Is it because the loss of my sons was not tragic enough for the world?
Maybe. And, I guess, a bit understandable.
Trust, though, that it was beyond tragic to me. The days of the deaths of my sons are days that MY world stopped turning, and the memories are just as vivid and real to me now as they ever have been.
We encourage victims of tragic events like 9-11 by telling them their loved ones are never forgotten…that they are always supported and that their grief is understandable, valid and expected. We wouldn’t dare let the day go by without remembrance and we chastise those who do not give it the reverence it so deserves.
Though perhaps not to the world-extent that an attack like September 11 was to our country, the loss of a child is very much an unexpected attack to one’s soul. It’s something that we cannot believe has happened to us, and in one splitting, life-changing second, our world stops turning also.
And no matter what stops the world from turning, to continue to breathe while you anticipate that it will once again rotate is not easy.