She entered the room reluctantly, head bowed, tears cascading down both cheeks, dropping on the front of her flowered shirt. As she slowly raised her head, her eyes locked with a woman with shoulder length blond hair. At that moment she knew she was in the right place because the woman’s eyes reflected the same pain she was feeling at that very moment. It’s as if her eyes could talk and they were saying “sit with us. You’ll be ok”. She scanned the room through her moist eyes. There were mostly women with a few men sprinkled here and there. They were old and young and in between, parents and grandparents, family members and friends and she noticed they all had one thing in common…they had sad eyes. As she met eyes with each person, she wondered, “Would she survive?”
I’m sure if you follow my blog, you recognize the woman entering the room. That woman, of course, is me in the first 2 months of my introduction to “Grief”. I entered that room full of bereaved parents and I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be one of them. They actually held conversations with each other, even smiling and laughing at times. How could they do that if they had lost their child? It didn’t make sense. It felt wrong and disrespectful. It was upsetting to see and even more to feel there was a lighter feeling in the room as they conversed. Did they enjoy being there, that wouldn’t make sense. Then the meeting began.
It explained how the meetings are structured and what to expect. It talked about there being possible smiles and even laughter. The leader explained that going to more than one meeting was necessary to see if it might help. Then came the Round Robin and as a stone passed through the hands of this group of people, who had lost their children, each one told their story. It started with a name, followed with the age at the time of death and usually ended with how this terrible tragedy had almost destroyed their family and all of this was accompanied by a barrage of tears. You notice, I said almost, because here they were sitting together trying to help others newer to grief. Some were far down the road, others were still in the early years of trying to make it make sense. The one thing they all had in common was the desire to make the path for others a little less treacherous by what they had learned so far.
Each one shared what had helped them in those early years. Each one offered something I thought was gone forever and that my friend was “Hope”. It wasn’t the kind of Hope one looks forward to like a birth or a wedding. Not the kind of Hope that one has for a future, but instead it was Hope of survival of the horrible bomb that just dropped on your life leaving nothing behind but ruin. Most of your life wasn’t even recognizable and you felt like a ghost of your former self. There was no color, just black and white with shades of gray as the colors blended. It was similar to the field after a battle, bodies lay everywhere, in pain, crying, and hands outstretched looking for help.
Here is where the Calvary arrives with food, nourishment, emotional, physical and spiritual help. The Calvary for me was The Compassionate Friends. Parents helping parents. Those in pain offering assistance to others in whatever way they can, an ear to listen, a heart to open and a mouth to share their journey with others. This is how healing begins, recognizing whatever gift you have to help others. Not monetary, not physical, but it is instead the gift of giving to others and one of the greatest gifts is that of time, time to care, time to share, and time to sit with someone’s pain. Those are gifts that cost nothing, but are the most valuable of all.
How are these parents from that first meeting you ask. They are out living their lives, continuing their careers, raising families, entering retirement and on and on. They survived because you aren’t really given a choice. The decision they had to make is how to live the rest of their lives. Do they hold onto that emotional pain forever or do they choose to do whatever is necessary to find joy again? I personally believe it is a choice we have to make on our own. Is it enough to just be alive or do I want to thrive? Some think it to be an impossible task, but I personally disagree. There is so much to live for and no matter what the circumstances, there is Hope that one day that physical pain will lessen and be replaced with memories made and memories to make. This is my Hope for myself and for anyone and everyone on this journey with me. I never said it was easy, I just know it is worth it.
Happy Birthday to my daughter, Lindsey, forever 29. She is and will forever be loved and remembered.