I remember when this happened, I cried. I had 2 nephews in school in CT and had no idea if they were safe. I was sad for days over children and teachers that I had never met. I kept saying ‘I can’t imagine how you survive something like this…’ It wasn’t a year later and Benny was gone.
No matter what side of the gun battle you’re on, the first few paragraphs written by this mother speak to me. They speak volumes about our life now. What the death of a sibling does to the other siblings. I can relate to a parent of Sandy Hook. It makes me so sad.
‘Give me a break let me make my own pattern
All that it takes is some time but I’m shattered
I always turn the car around
All that I feel is the realness I’m faking
Taking my time but it’s time that I’m wasting
Always turn the car around’
10 Months ‘AA’
I don’t really know what to say. I cannot believe that it’s been 10 months. 10 months since I held him. 10 months since I kissed him. 10 months since I breathed in his little boy smell. 10 months since I’ve seen his smile. 10 months since I laughed at his antics. 10 months since I shook my head and secretly smiled when he was misbehaving. 10 months.
I have a lot of anger. I’m not really sure what or who I’m angry at, but I’m angry all the same. I’m angry that we have to live in a world without my son. I’m angry that Darcy doesn’t have a sibling. I’m angry that people have disappointed me. I’m angry that time keeps marching by, yet I’m still stuck here. I’m not sure where ‘here’ is though, some place between the past and the future. I couldn’t really call it the ‘present’ because I don’t always feel like I’m here. I just exist.
My therapist thinks I’m using my anger so that I don’t have to deal. I would agree. Being angry is so much easier though! It’s easier to write people off rather than deal with the fact that they have disappointed you. I enjoy how freeing it feels to have a good rant and let it all out. It keeps people away and leaves me less vulnerable. They can’t hurt me as much from farther away. I want to go back to my bubble, where there was never any judgment, just acceptance and support.
I don’t know where to go from here. The common theme seems to be that this is about everyone else and at some point it has to be about me. I have to own my emotions, no matter how awful they feel. I have to stop turning away from the hurt. I have to try to be me, but not the old me, that person no longer exists.
I think back to where we were a year ago and I have no idea how we got here. Sometimes it feels like I’m living someone else’s life. This wasn’t supposed to happen! We’re not supposed to be here! I want to yell this, but there’s no one to yell at. My wise friend Sue said it best the other day when she said that it’s amazing at how little control we have. Just one little thing can set something in motion that you can’t undo.
So here I am, scared to move forward and scared not to. Terrified of feeling empty. I miss my son.
We’re leaving on vacation tomorrow and I had promised Darcy that we would work on a scrapbook of her and Benny. Of course I forgot to print out pictures, so here I am at midnight uploading to Wal-mart in my frenzied last minute panic.
I just sent 187 pictures to be printed. 187 memories of my family complete. 187 times when we were whole. 187 times before the accident that made us a family of 3 again.
I don’t often go here, because it hurts too damn much, but I’m sad tonight. I think some part of me goes about my day playing a part, as if Bennett didn’t exist. What an awful way to live my life. It’s too hard to remember what actually happened, so I think I’ve processed it as if he’s gone away. Not tonight.
I’m looking at these pictures and it devastates me so much to see my kids together. That will never happen again, Darcy will grow older in pictures alone. She has a brother that she doesn’t get to see, or touch or laugh with. There is no feeling on earth worse than this right now.
I know that I had it all and now it’s gone, he’s gone. I cannot get Darcy’s comment out of my head when I told her to play by herself, ‘but mom, I had a brother.’ It’s brings so many happy, painful memories to my mind. I cannot stand being alone in this house with her, it reminds me too much of what’s missing.
I had a son. His name was Bennett. I miss him.
This was sent to me by my friend Sue…very appropriate
Are You Normal Yet?” — A Mother’s Response
This moving letter was sent to me by a mother whose son had died 18 months ago. She got a call from a friend who wanted to go out with her, BUT the defining question was, “Are you normal yet?” This is the response given by the mother. Pay close attention to her words. She shares a lot of wisdom for those parents who are grieving the loss of a child, as well as for those who want to know what to say to grieving parents.
“I awoke this morning feeling so great. It’s been a year and a half since my 18-year-old son died, and I can finally say that I’ve worked through the grief and I am back to normal. Thank you to everyone that told me to take all the time I needed. Time certainly does heal all wounds. Now, maybe you can tolerate being my friend again as I am now the same person as I was before my son died.
And, you were right to tell me that Danny is in a better place, and that I must feel good knowing that he is not suffering any more. I do hope your children go to that better place as soon as possible so you, too, can experience such comforting thoughts.
And, thank you for telling me that you know just how I feel as many of you (my friends) have experienced loss. Loss of parents, grandparents, and even pets. At first I felt so alone and my pain so minimized by your words, but after time and getting over the initial year-long shock, I realize that the loss of a child is no more profound or devastating than that of your beloved pet. Thank you for setting me straight and making me realize that loss is loss. And, that someone who loves their pet dearly suffers the same devastation as that of a parent who loses a child.
On a couple of occasions over the past 18 months I have shared with some the overwhelming sadness in my heart, and all-over physical pain that can threaten at any given time to debilitate me. I was criticized and told that these feelings were not okay. I was informed that Danny didn’t want me to be in pain and that he would be very unhappy if he knew the extent of my suffering. Thank you for that admonishment, as of course you do know better than I. I really appreciate the guilt that I was perhaps making my son unhappy even in heaven.
Oh, and as so many of you have pointed out, at least I have other children. Yes, loving my other children and tending to their needs sure makes losing Danny so much easier to handle. Whenever I expressed any upset at the hurtful, insensitive support, I was quickly told I should appreciate the fact that people mean well and that sometimes they just don’t know what to say. Thank you for pointing this out. I now realize that along with my heavy burden of grief, I must also make sure that I smile and say ‘thank you’ no matter what is said. The grieving parent must not ever upset the well-intentioned by being honest!
I think it’s about time grieving parents tell the truth!! We don’t need to be bullied into being okay with whatever is being said just because it is well-intentioned. There is rampant grief illiteracy among the
vast majority of people. The only ones who can bring about change are the grieving parents, so let’s start by being honest about cruel, hurtful, minimizing platitudes. We can do so kindly and tactfully. I appreciate that you care and that you mean well. Your support means a lot to me. Your words, however, are painful to hear. Let me share with you what would be helpful.
What grieving parents would appreciate:
Ask about our child – anything is fine. Don’t act like he never existed. Trust me, you may think you are reminding us of our pain, but you’re not. Our pain is always there.
1. Share a memory you have of my child.
2. Send me flowers on his birthday or his death day. Those are hard, hard days.
3. Grieve with us. Listen to us. And, most of all be willing to learn. We don’t need advice. Again – we do not need advice. Just remember him.
4. Know that I am forever changed, and accept that fact. I will never be just like I was before. This grief is different than any other. We know because we have lost pets, parents, and grandparents, uncles, aunts, and even spouses and siblings.
Our hope and our task are to learn to balance the pain and incorporate it into our lives. In order to survive it at all, the grief must become part of who we are forever.”
This is a question that I will never stop asking. Why Benny? Why us? Haven’t I suffered enough? Didn’t I lose enough when my mom died? Why does Darcy have to go through this at such a young age? Why did this happen?
It is so frustrating. I am so angry and bitter and cannot help it. How is any of this fair?? I rarely ask these questions, but I’m in a mood tonight, so why?
He was so smart, god was he smart. I can’t even imagine what he would be up to today, what milestones he would be breezing through. He’d probably be potty trained, because he was already going on the toilet at 15 months old. His vocabulary would be unreal and he would be giving Darcy a run for her money.
I miss the laughter and the chaos. I miss Darcy as she would laugh hysterically over something ridiculous that Benny had done. I haven’t heard her laugh like that in so long. I miss trying to shower the two of them, it was like greased pigs. Benny loved spraying the shower nozzle in his face and laughing. He and Darcy were such a perfect match. I know that they were young yet, but they rarely fought, it was mostly Benny doing something crazy and Darcy laughing at him. I miss that so much!
I miss him grabbing his blanky and paci and bringing me a book to cuddle in the chair at night. For all his craziness, he was so happy to just curl up and snuggle before bed. He would smell of diapers and soap. I miss his beautiful blonde ringlets that would curl up after his shower at night. I miss bedtime.
I miss the chaos in our room in the morning. The two of them dragging toys and books all into our room. The damn cat piano that Benny would press over and over and bee bop to. We would lay in bed and do the wheels on the bus and itsy bitsy. It was such a joyful way to wake up in the morning.
Why is this all gone? What did we do to deserve this new life? Why did we lose Benny?
I hate driving. I’ve been doing it again begrudgingly for 2 weeks and I hate it. I hate cars and other drivers. I’m so scared there will be another accident. It all just feels so random and out of control.
I used to love driving, where I could be alone to think and plan. I enjoyed the anonymity of the surrounding vehicles. My commute to work would easily be 2 hours one way, including getting the kids to daycare. It was my quiet place to think, or completely zone out.
This is another thing that the accident has taken from me, another way in which its changed me. I hate the music on the radio. I hate driving alone, I always end up in tears. I hate the anxiety I have every time that I park the car. I feel like my world has gotten smaller and my options are limited. I used to be so independent, god I miss that. I miss ‘me.’
Today Darcy asked me about the accident. The first time that she asked came across as accusatory, she wanted to know if I was paying attention, if Benny was strapped in tightly.
She started off by asking how my mom died, and then why. I knew what was coming, so I braced myself. I tried to remember that she’s only 5 and not to tell her more than she’s asking for.
It started simple, ‘Mom, how did the accident happen?’. ‘We were outside of the car and it began to roll.’ ‘Oh, how did you get hurt?’ ‘The car hit us.’ ‘You should have been in the car.’ ‘We had just gotten home, we were getting out of the car.’ ‘Oh. How did the car hit you, I don’t understand?’ ‘My door was open and it hit us.’ ‘Where was Benny?’ (Insert the sound of my heart breaking, if there’s anything left) ‘In my arms.’ ‘How did you get hurt?’ ‘The car door knocked us on the ground.’ ‘Did you cry?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Did Benny cry?’ ‘No…he was gone.’ ‘Gone where?’ ‘To heaven baby.’ ‘Oh, I didn’t know it can happen that quickly.’ ‘Sometimes it does.’ ‘OK, I thought the car had runned you over. Maybe we should change the driveway, plant grass instead, that way if you fall, you won’t get hurt.’. Silence, don’t really know what to say to that. Of course I’m driving, so I can’t completely break down.
After a few minutes I said,’sometimes things happen that don’t make sense, like my mom getting sick or the accident. We’ll never know why it happened.’ ‘I think a spring in your car broke.’ ‘I think we live on a hill.’ ‘Oh, yeah.’. ‘Are you OK with what we talked about?’ ‘No, I’m not Mom.’ ‘Me either…’
4 Months ‘AA’
‘Life has some nerve going on like nothing happened, doesn’t it?’
Darcy shouldn’t be growing older. Parker shouldn’t be back at work. Time is supposed to stand still. My life has, how is it that other people can still go about their daily activities?
It’s truly frustrating. I try very hard to put on this mask and pretend that all is OK. I’m pushing myself to do things that I’m just not ready for to prove that I’m OK. Maybe that’s the problem, I’m not OK. I don’t want to go to your child’s birthday party when my son doesn’t get to grow older. I don’t want to drive a car because I miss him being in it with me. It all feels like moving on and frankly, I don’t want to.
I ache to move backwards. My arms ache to hold my son. My lips ache to smile, and laugh, really laugh because something is funny, not to make someone feel comfortable.
I fucking hate this. I hate that 4 months have gone by and every day we creep closer to his birthday in May. I hate that people have disappeared, how easily they have seemed to move on. I hate feeling stuck. I’m trying so hard, but I really don’t want to anymore. I’m so tired of being OK.