by Kelli Tucker
On this 20th month without you, here is my letter to the newly bereaved parent (or bereaved anyone really):
I’ve been there.
Exactly where you are right now.
Fresh, raw, overwhelming, suffocating, painful loss.
I’ve sobbed until I vomited.
I’ve screamed until my throat streaked and bled.
I’ve held onto blankets, pillows, pictures, toys, jackets, memories.
I’ve drunk way too many bottles of wine, hoping to ease the sting.
I’ve been angry.
I’ve been sad.
I’ve been numb.
I’ve pretended, and I’ve lied.
I have cooked, cleaned, worked, survived. I survived the loss, and you will too. I can’t tell you when it happened, but somewhere around month 13, my anger slowed, and my gratitude grew.
I also know that comment just made you roll your eyes.
I heard them too in the beginning.
I didn’t believe them either.
They served only to frustrate me further.
I didn’t think those parents loved their children as much as I loved mine. I thought they must be wired differently. That somehow, their hearts weren’t as broken as mine.
But it’s true.
They were right.
Grief is a living, breathing thing.
Your grief will never stop.
Your grief WILL change.
One day, as painful as it seems now, you won’t sob every day.
It doesn’t feel like it now.
It feels like not crying is cheating on your child; it feels vile, shameful, wrong. But whether you want to or not, one day you won’t cry on the way to work.
One day you will hear the song you blasted on the radio together, and you’ll smile and sing it at the top of your lungs.
One day a holiday will come, and you’ll decorate again.
One day you will decide it’s time to clean their room.
Take out their trash.
One day you will mail their friends something they loved.
One day you will.
One day you will cook spaghetti again.
One day you will drive by a GameStop, and your soul won’t bleed.
One day you will talk about them with so much love and pride, and not a single tear will fall.
One day you will go to Texas Roadhouse.
One day you will go on vacation, and smile a real smile when you see the ocean.
One day your daughter will get married, and it will be a truly happy day. Not tinged at all with sadness.
One day, you will feel lucky that you had them at all.
One day you will celebrate their life, despite their death.
One day, when you think about their final moments, you will close your eyes, breathe slowly, and refocus those gruesome memories.
One day you will be a new kind of okay. And somehow, that will be enough.
One day you will watch Thor again, although I haven’t yet.
I know you don’t believe any of this now.
I was angry when someone said it to me.
I just didn’t get it.
I didn’t want to let the pain go, because that felt like letting go of Marik.
It felt wrong.
It felt dirty.
It felt like I was being a bad mom.
It felt like I was abandoning him.
I wanted to be close to him, so I tried to hold onto everything.
Anything felt better than nothing.
Does it ever get easy?
No. I’m not going to tell you lies. Sugar-coating things up has never been my specialty.
I still touch his door every morning.
I still cry at least once each day.
I still glance at his picture on the mantle and wish things were different.
And that is scary too.
My first grief support group was my last.
I saw mothers with 3, 5, and 10 years of grief. It was overwhelming, and I felt like I was looking into my sad future.
The time warp of grief.
How can 20 months feel like yesterday morning and simultaneously feel like 20 years?
I realize now that living, breathing grief isn’t a curse.
It’s just love.
So. Much. Love.
I see you.
Do you hear me?
I really, truly know.
You aren’t alone in your grief.
Feel whatever you need to feel.
Cry your tears.
Cry your sacred tears.
Live in this space for as long as you see fit.
Grief is as individual as a fingerprint.
Your love earned you this right.
The other side, my side, is full of more grief, but the important thing is, there IS another side.
I love you. Thank you for all the lessons you taught me, and for the lessons I’m still learning. Being your momma was my greatest gift.
I won’t let your loss, outshine your amazing life.