Until you’ve suffered grief in its rawest form, you simply cannot understand how it feels for the person who is suffering. You may be one of the people who say such things as ‘time heals’, or ‘you’ll get better in the summer when the sun’s shining’ (yes, I have been told this). Or you may be one of the people who don’t talk about what has happened because you think this helps.
I had never encountered real grief until I lost my son last March. Since then, I have been living in the dark belly of grief and this is what I now know:
- Grief is not an illness. You can’t ‘get better’. It stays with you for the rest of your life.
- Time does not heal. Time may heal a wound on the skin, but it can’t possibly heal grief because it’s impossible to turn back time.
- Grief is so very lonely and isolating. People expect things of you that are just no longer possible.
- Grief is unique to every person – my husband and I are grieving in completely different ways.
- Bereavement counselling helps because I can offload and say whatever I’m feeling without being judged. And I’ve learnt that crying is a good thing. You have to let some of the emotions out.
- People are afraid of grief. It doesn’t get spoken about openly. It still carries taboo.
- Grief is not linear. You don’t pass through certain stages and reach peace at the end. Some days you can be in the depths of one stage, to find yourself in another the following day, only to be right back at the beginning the next.
- Grief affects your body emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s exhausting.
- Grief is the worst pain anyone can ever have to endure.
- Grief is utterly terrifying.
I believe the loss of your child is the worst kind of grief possible. No parent should have to see their child dead, encased in a coffin. No parent should have to watch as their child is lowered to the ground or cremated. No parent should have to live with the eternal torture of this loss.
It takes a very special person to be able to help a grieving person stay afloat. I have less than a handful of true friends who have been with me since the beginning of the nightmare and I know that they will always be there with me. These are the people that are able to not make the pain their pain; they are able to put their pain aside and do whatever they can to help me. These are the people who I will be eternally grateful to.