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Thursday, September 5, 2013

What's It Supposed to Look Like?

"I saw your daughter the other day and she seemed to look like she was doing okay," a lady said to my mom yesterday.

I've been wondering what grief is supposed to look like. Am I okay if I'm not wearing my pajamas out in public? If my eyes aren't red rimmed does that mean I've gotten over the hurdle? If I'm grocery shopping does that mean my life is getting back to normal?

I totally relate to the words that another mother who lost her child said; "Just because I'm not crying doesn't mean that I'm not sad and just because I'm laughing doesn't mean that I'm happy."

Grief is such a private emotion. Just because I'm able to put one foot in front of another, just because I am able to keep our household barely running for the sake of our other three children doesn't mean that I'm okay. It also doesn't mean that at some point I won't be okay. This takes time.

I catch myself in the middle of a conversation, a sentence in a book, a scene in a movie - having a flash back of Jacob in the hospital, or Jacob lying on the couch, or just plain happy Jacob. I imagine that my eyes may glass over. That something in my expression may change. Because at that point I am no longer in the moment. I'm somewhere else entirely. Sometimes it's a good memory, and other times it is a bad one. I wonder if people notice the fear, the pain, the loss within me. Sometimes I feel as though I can't catch my breath, when the realization that he is no longer here hits me anew. 

Because most days I feel like someone has literally ripped a piece of my heart out. It's as much a physical pain as it is an emotional one.

But on the outside I guess that I look like I'm doing okay.


  1. I haven't lost a child but when I was a child I lost a mother. You are right it is a physical pain. I remember just the mere mention of her name and I would get a pain in my throat. My throat would constrict. I'm so sorry for the loss of your son.

  2. The heart will break, but broken live on.
    +Lord Byron

    There is no wrong or right way to grieve. When we lost our baby, it was only my two young children that kept me going. When my sister died, it was the same for my mom. We both have gone on to find joy and peace again as will you and your family. Though the pain will lessen, it never fully goes away and resurfaces at random. They may be gone from sight, but they are here is spirit and never forgotten!

  3. The holes in our hearts never fill in. They simply stop bleeding quite so profusely. Eventually, if we live long enough and love enough people, our hearts resemble Swiss cheese - as much hole as heart. But the holey heart keeps functioning. And if we are wise, it be comes a holier heart as well.

    Sending hugs and sharing your pain.

  4. I read this when we had a loss in our wider family in May.

    I am sorry for your terrible loss Elizabeth.

    I am standing on the sea shore. A ship sails and spreads her
    white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
    She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at
    last she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says:
    ‘She is gone.’ Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all;
    she is just as large in the masts, hull a spars as she was
    when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living
    freight to its destination.
    The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not her;
    and just at the moment when someone at my side says;
    ‘She’s gone’ there are others who are watching her coming
    and other voices take up a gland shout,
    ‘There she comes’, and that is dying.
    Henry Van Dyke

  5. It has been nearly four years since I lost my son to pancreatic cancer. I still find tears in my eyes when I talk about him. I know that the pain will eventually get easier. But the memories of the good times also help. Marcia



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