Calm Before The Storm
Christmas is approaching and for weeks the build up has been going on behind the scenes, teary moments, yearning for our loved ones, almost a calm before the storm. Each year it seems to be different. I remember that first Christmas Cody (02/09/98) died, and then Luke (20/12/98). Luke’s funeral was held just days before Christmas, the timing horrendous to say the least, but there was an enormous groundswell of support.
The weeks and months afterwards were a blur, a haze actually, and it was tough ‘getting back to normal’, is there really a normal after losing a child? Going back to work, getting back into the whole scene of socializing was uncomfortable, I didn’t want to. I just wanted to throw the quilt over my head and disappear. I remember how supportive our families and friends were, but then that slowly dropped off, mainly from our friends. There were those close friendships that continue and still do to this day. People go on with their lives, but for the bereaved, you’re in this holding pattern, it doesn’t stop, the grief continues, but you learn to cope with it, it’s always there. It raises its ugly head sometimes at the most opportune moments, when your least expecting it.
The ocean is a great metaphor for grief, as it can be so violent and so destructive. Then at other times the waves roll gently, with a certain rhythm, lulling you at times into a false sense of security. You feel like a beacon bobbing about, just keeping your head above water, but just one huge wave could crash down on you and take you under. So you continue to tread water, just trying to find the energy so that you can swim to the shore.
As you emerge from the ocean, you feel totally spent; exhausted its been a tough ordeal. You collapse onto the beach, gasping for air, energy levels are dangerously low. Some days the ocean is fierce and destructive, and on others its quiet and still, just like our grief, it is the calm before the storm.
After Cody’s death there was an outpouring of emotion from family and friends, and we elected to conduct a private funeral for family only. I remember my father openly weeping, something I hadn’t seen or witnessed before. It affected us all in different ways, highlighting the fragility of human life, and I feel that we should consider life as a privilege not a right!
Friends came and went during Luke’s illness, at first incredibly concerned initially during his diagnosis, there were many phone calls and visits to the hospital to check on his progress. But then once his treatment started that faded. At times we felt like lepers, I can recall many occasions where friends felt as though (I assume) it to confronting to discuss Luke’s illness. Quite often totally ignoring the subject for fear of bringing it up and upsetting us. Then after Luke and Cody’s deaths, it became awkward for my many friends that bumped into me at the supermarket, they would simply ignore me, or walk the other way. We certainly didn’t deserve to be treated this way, after all we were the ones that had suffered a loss not them!
The cliche ‘you can pick your friends but you can’t choose your family’ looms as an ever present reminder. Sadly my in-laws were never really that supportive throughout our losses. They kept a safe distance, more so to protect their own feelings. Even now as we are tested, they have taken a back seat again, perhaps it’s just to hard. But we have decided that life is to short, and negativity won’t get us anywhere.
We carry on, try to keep things in perspective and as ‘normal’ as possible for our own children. My own parents have been incredibly supportive, and loving, and continue to be present in our lives and their grandchildren’s.
– Newly Bereaved – poem by Jackie Barreau
we are gathered here today
to pay tribute to your child.
The overwhelming loss,
pain, suffering and torment,
will ebb and flow.
We can’t accurately estimate how
long it will take;
in all probability a life time.
The grief at times
will lull you into a false
sense of in-security.
Get used to the sadness, the tears,
the anxiety, the emptiness,
the anger and depression.
We do however wish you
all the best on your journey;
just remember…one step forwards two steps back.