Thursday, February 10, 2011
When a child is gone from our life, it's the simple situations that are sometimes the hardest to handle.
My Daniel Buttons went off when I volunteered to help out at our church's Date Night. Couples dropped off their kids and I was assigned to take care of the two and three-year-olds, that potty training age. Before I could fully understand why, tears lined my eyes. The more I watched one little boy talking and playing, the more it became clear. This kid did not look like my Daniel, but he talked like him and his mannerisms were similar. I whispered this to my daughter who was with me on this volunteer night. Telling her that this child reminded me of her brother made my eyes fill again. Elizabeth was born after Daniel's death; she'd never met him and yet, now, was able to capture some of who he was in a little boy we had just met. This is all so crazy, I thought, and wiped my eyes. I'm in charge here. Hold it together. You can't break down.
I know what set my heart into a tailspin. But others may never understand. Unless. Unless they, too, have had a child die.
Whether it be praying for a sick child, or watching a child eat watermelon, or hearing a song, I'm reminded of days gone by.
Little do people realize that triggers zap a bereaved parent throughout the day, and just how exhausting getting through a newly-bereaved day can be. It's the simple
things--seeing a child, or a toy, or a box of cereal, or hearing a voice. These produce emotions and to act on them or to try to shove them aside is the constant dilemma we face.
Parents are going through a lot more than meets the eye. If we were to vocalize each time a trigger or button went off, we could be saying things like this to our coworkers all day:
"Are you eating a grilled cheese sandwich? Daniel thought they were called girl cheese."
"The picture of your granddaughter is beautiful in that Cozy Coupe. Daniel and his sister used to ride in one down the cul-de-sac."
"I know all about how hard it can be to get a kid to go to bed at night. Daniel was getting out of his bed all the time to come downstairs."
After awhile, our coworkers or friends would probably be sick and tired of hearing about our child.
But they don't realize, the memories are all we have now. I can't go home and make a grilled cheese sandwich for my son or watch him ride in the Cozy Coupe or even fight with him about bedtime. Ever. Again.
I compare it to playing a game where tennis balls are lobbed at me. I use my racket to swing and hit them aside so that I can continue on with the game. But swinging at these unexpected balls is exhausting.
Then there are the not pleasant thoughts that are trigged when coworkers bring up topics like suicide or disease or teens and drinking. To them, these are entities that have not entered their doorstep. They are out there--someone else's child they've read about in the news. Whereas for the bereaved parent, these or other difficult entities have taken away our child.
No wonder they call this road of bereavement rocky!
I find it helps to write some of the situations and the emotions down. Release the bottled up feelings in this way. Write down what you would have liked to have said to that person who said something that hurt you. But you refused to say anything at the time--you just let her words be one of those many tennis balls that you hit out of your court.
Grieving parents have a lot to handle each day. Most people are not aware how much energy it takes to combat what goes on in our hearts and heads.
We are simply trying to do the best we can. God, please give us this day what we need to walk this journey. Amen.