Sunday, June 20, 2010

Talking (or Not)

I got together with friends several weeks ago. There were two friends at this gathering who had lost a parent at a very young age...a woman who lost her mother at 9 years old and a man who lost his father at 5 years old. In case you don't know, those were almost the exact ages of my children when Todd died last year.

As we talked about how the kids were doing, the woman said something very comforting. She said that she thought that God blesses children with a degree of healthy shock throughout their childhood...that this had protected her from having to face the full assault of her grief as a child. She also said she carried her mother's love inside her and that got her through many trials that resulted from the shift in family dynamics. The man is one of strong character, who reminds me a lot of Todd in his easy manner, quiet ways, and perfect contentment to just hang out and not be the center of attention. Over the years, his wife and I have often compared the two (he and Todd) and given thanks that our respective mates balanced us for the good. These two beautiful and strong people are living testimonies to me that although my children will certainly bear some scars, they can still move beyond this tragedy to a happy and healthy future.

Much later that night, there were just 3 of us left. We talked in more detail than I have in quite some time about all that happened. It is very difficult for me to talk about it (meaning the events of that weekend, the events in the aftermath or how I have handled emotional things up until now) as a continuous stream of events, but I was more able that night. I usually experience my grief on a cellular level when I do talk about it...I can't really explain it other than that--my entire body experiences a shut-down of sorts when I begin to share the story. I was okay that night while we were talking, but the next morning when I woke up, I had that same feeling of grief and sadness touching every cell in my body. I thought about why I had this delayed reaction to it after a few hours sleep. I recently read that you should "talk, talk, talk" about it as much as possible to help you move through your grief, but I was unconvinced that I needed to "talk, talk, talk" and threw the paper in the trash in aggravation that I had been sent yet another "5 easy steps to overcoming this great loss in your life." (That's not what these mail outs really say, but that is what I choose to "read" between-the-lines.) Maybe the talking is more necessary than I think (although I am still not ready to do it on any kind of regular basis), and maybe it peels away a little more of the onion each time I do. I spent some quiet time that morning thinking about two things in particular that I guess I needed to process, and I felt a surge of (good) adrenalin as I picked these things apart and considered them. Maybe if I will open myself up to talking about things a little bit more, some of this grief will release its hold. I will just have to get back to you on that because at this moment the thought of talking about any of it sickens me, but this idea makes perfect sense along the lines of "facing things head on" being healthy for you in the long run. At any rate, I keep plugging along.


  1. i'm one of those people who thinks talking, ultimately, is good. but i think the reason it is (ultimately) good is because it is so HARD. for myself, i've found it to be hard because verbalizing the experience brought up my emotions, which made me sad, which is something i'd rather not feel if i don't have to. but, not talking and holding it inside made me feel very disconnected from people. i really had to hold myself apart from people and relationships. in the long run, i didn't really protect myself from feeling any pain, it just manifested in other ways.

    you do what you can when you can and have faith that down the line, you'll be able to do more. you are strong, strong, strong. i *know* you will get there. when you are ready.

  2. Thanks, Nik. You always encourage me.

  3. Susan,
    I am constantly amazed by your strength. You are such a blessing to everyone who knows you and especially to your children. Everyone heals in their own way, and I would think this blog has some healing powers. You are surrounded by many family, friends, and church clergy, who will listen when you are ready. You also have an amazing faith. God always listens to the cries of our heart. I love Isaiah 40: 29-31; Isaiah 41:20; Psalm 50:15; Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 46:1-2; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:39; Psalm 32:10; Psalm 69:16; Psalm 56:8; Joshua 1:5;
    I Peter 5:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9.
    Blessings and Peace,

  4. Talking is good when the person is ready and not before. My dad could not talk about his experience of being a Japanese prisoner of war in WWII until he met a bearded scruffy pony-tailed Viet Nam vet at the city coffee shop. That was 40 years after the war. Then he gradually opened up.

    You are making wonderful progress. It will happen in your own time and in your own way.

    I personally cannot talk about that day without crying.