I recently wrote about establishing boundaries. This, for me, was a new way of grieving. For so long I broadcasted the death of my son far and wide. I needed to. I needed everyone who met me to understand that I have a son that died. It seemed so normal to grieve this way. I felt as though I just grieved out loud.
But grief changes. And hearts don’t always heal the way the mind would like.
I’ve made no secret that I’ve struggled with my son’s death this last year. I always thought that when I hit the seven year mark it would be a change for me, and this whole grieving thing would be something easier. That could not be further from the truth.
With the help of my counselor, I decided I needed to establish some boundaries. My boundaries meant that I would decide when, where, and why I would talk about my son.
I wouldn’t succumb to that need to let the world know my son died. Though I will admit, this was hard for me to figure out.
And just as I thought it would be hard to do, it was.
I do quite a bit of travel for work and about half of the time the subject of children comes up during casual conversation with new business partners.
This normally becomes a stress inducing time for me. I never know what to say because I want to be honest but I also want to maintain a professional relationship. And let’s face it: no one wants to hear about a dead baby. I usually end up simply muttering something about four but really only three kids.
Or if I can be honest, sometimes I’ll just say I have four children and pretend they’re all alive. Once I even pretended I was raising a set of living twins, instead of figuring out the insanity of raising a twinless twin. This was a terrible decision and I just went home and cried.
This most recent trip I decided I would establish those boundaries I had determined I needed.
Of course, the inevitable happened this work trip and the subject of children was brought by up on Day Two. The complete stranger I was seated next to at dinner meant no harm and was simply looking for a conversation topic. But I won’t lie, my heart skipped a beat. I decided I would stick with my plan.
I told him I had three kids at home aged- 1, 4, and 7. Throughout the dinner conversation I stuck with my plan and never mentioned my son who died.
That evening in my hotel room I thought I would feel awful about my decision. But I didn’t. I felt relieved.
I finally figured out what it meant to feel a little bit of peace.
I was able to protect my heart and establish the boundaries that have taken me seven years to figure out.
My son is sacred. His life should only be shared with those who earn it.
I didn’t know what that meant until recently. And, it feels like a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I’m not sure why it took me this long to figure out how to socialize in public. But it did.
One day my boundaries might change. And if they do I suppose that will be okay. But for now, I know that the plan I made is the plan for me.
This plan protects me. This plan helps me understand how I can grieve my son’s death. It is such a complicated thing, that no matter what I do, I am sure I will always second-guess it.
As someone who is most likely categorized as a seasoned grieving mother, I know that this will change. I may one day decided my boundaries are different.
However, I also might not.
There is only one thing that I know about grief that is always true: it changes.
So with these established boundaries, I have been able to bring a sense of understanding of how my grief changes. And though I know it is so hard to do, I invite you to do the same.