Writing through the loss of my oldest son has been healing for me. Words have just flowed, along with the tears.
In the thousands of posts the past eight years, I’ve never had writer’s block, never struggled to put my thoughts to the page. But talking about the loss out loud has been quite the opposite. Most of the time, I either clam up or tears stream so steadily it prohibits me expressing what I want to say.
And that angers me.
I want to share Austin’s story with others. From the outpouring of support I’ve received from sharing our story on my personal blog and here at Still Standing, I know our journey has helped others. What hurts is that I can’t have and share that same connection in person.
When Austin first passed, we tried attending a support group a few times but found it too difficult. My husband was too lost in his grief to share. I couldn’t get out the words without crumbling into a sobbing mess. It also bothered us to see bereaved parents there who lost their children decades ago. To us, it was a horrible truth that this pain never ends and that was just too painful to face.
In the beginning, I ignored the steady stream of phone calls. Although I longed to talk with others who walked this path, I just couldn’t. It didn’t seem helpful to sit on a phone and cry the entire time. So I didn’t answer them. I reached out electronically — social media and the connections I’ve made through my blog helped to save me. It allowed me to express what I couldn’t in person. And that was ok…for a while.
Living in a small town, I don’t often have to share our loss because most people just know. Or at least they did. As time has passed, we find ourselves in new sets of circles who aren’t aware. It’s still so very hard for me to answer the question, “Do you have kids?” without tearing up. And that’s awkward, especially when meeting someone for the first time.
A few years back, as we became new members of our church, we gained new friendships and faces. One week in our small group we were asked to share what brought us there. I bit my lip, preparing myself as the circle drew closer to us. I prayed for peace, hoping to find the words once it came our turn. But everything I wanted to say came out in pieces, between the tears. I left the class frustrated, wishing I could hit the backspace and rewrite the last fifteen minutes.
Last spring, I was asked to give my testimony to a group of women. It was the first time I’d publicly spoken of losing Austin. Even though I tiptoed around it as much as possible, my story’s foundation centers around him. Yet every time I began speaking of my son, my voice began to shake.
Lately, I can feel God nudging me to do and say more, to tell others in person what He’s done for us since our loss. While I want to share, I still struggle knowing emotions may take over.
I’ve always expressed myself best in written form. In writing, I’ve never been scared to speak or at a loss of what to say, but alone at my computer, I’ve never had to deal with emotions getting in the way. At a keyboard, tears can fall as much as they want without disrupting the story.
Why is it so much harder to face this truth out loud?