Onward I drove, hopping curbs, white knuckles gripping the steering wheel, accelerating to fifty miles an hour, heading just three streets away, arriving too late. He was gone. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome had stolen life from my six-month-old son, Cullin, leaving this mama broken, scared, and out of my mind with grief. I was living but not feeling alive.
My heart was beating, but pieces of me left this world with my child that day and I could not get a grip on life.
My knees were weak and at times unable to hold my body upright. My feet were too heavy to lift, and my arms and hands were empty and achy. My eyes swollen shut from the constant stream of tears. I was in the company of others and felt completely alone. The weight of grief had a firm grasp on every aspect of my life, and with that realization, I decided to get a handle on falling apart.
There is a fine line between living and living life; just ask any grieving parent. Living after the death of a child means barely going through the daily motions, with little care or regard for food, sleep, entertainment, or conversation. You are numb. You ache. You do not find pleasure in that which once brought excitement because the broken soul left behind to mend has nothing left to give or receive. You want your child, deeper than ever imagined. You are just alive, barely living. Only breathing. Barely inhaling and exhaling, choosing to take each breath for the child who is unable to do so.
To get a handle on grief, you must truly, deeply, completely, fall apart.
Allow your broken heart to feel and acknowledge the love-filled pain. Cry, scream, and break stuff. Share your tears, your child’s memory, your heart, hurt, and hope. Connect with others in person and online. Be open to the idea of falling apart, to healing.
One day, it will happen. You will inhale. You will smile. You will laugh. You will feel guilty about smiling and laughing, but it will keep happening. Bit by noticeable bit, your forever-healing heart will lighten. There will still gut-wrenching thoughts, never to be granted wishes, and painful reminders that will weigh you down, but brilliant rays of hope will begin to pierce the darkness that is grief. You will feel life.
I challenge you to re-engage in life. It will take effort.
You will begin to eat and sleep again and feel a desperate need to get “back to you.” You will see a glimmer of your pep, your zest, and your will all coming back. You will breathe and thrive, with conscious effort. You will continue to survive and wonder how it is so. You will radiate. You will revive. You will look for the rays of light in your life, and then bask in what makes you shine. You will get a handle on falling apart and living.
Remember who you were, honor who you are, and strive to become all that you are meant to be in life and grief.
- List all of the hobbies, interests, dreams, loves, wants, and wishes that define you.
- Circle the activities or items that you have stopped, given up on, or pushed to the side through the years, and have neglected more so since grief has entered your life.
- Create a new list using the circled items.
- Add to the list any new hopes dreams, or hobbies that you may shape the new, revived you.
- Grief changes and reshapes facets of our being, so it is important to take the time to discover and reflect on any new interests, challenges, or passions that may arise from the ashes of heartbreak.
- Begin your revival by choosing one dream to chase, one goal to attain, or one passion to reignite. Create a Revival Journal. Reflect upon, write about, draw, photograph, and/or document the journey of your soul’s revival.
Photo Credit Ginny Limer
Ginny Limer is a mother of five, teacher, and adventurer from Fort Worth, Texas. She founded Scared Sidless, a 501(c)3 nonprofit in order to support bereaved families, unite grieving siblings, and promote a lifestyle of creative, healthy grieving. Just as you exhale grief, Ginny encourages you to inhale hope.