Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The "Art" of Crying

I've always thought of myself as level headed but in touch with my feelings. I cried during happy times (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, even the kids' school plays). A good movie always brought plenty of tears (think "Million Dollar Baby" and "Terms of Endearment"). And of course, there are life events including the death of my father and several close friends, as well as my divorce from Adrienne and Daniel's father. I couldn't imagine crying touching me any more deeply as those times...until now. As I've said here before, I don't cry all the time, but when I do, it's so deep and painful, more painful that I thought was possible, all the way to my core. At my Compassionate Friends meeting, they said not to try to hold it in because that just leads to a bigger breakdown so that's what I'm trying to do.

We're getting out a bit more. Over the President's Day weekend, we went to Santa Barbara to see Daniel. I'm going to Cabo with some girlfriends (hi!) in May, Curt and I are going to Tucson for a weekend in April, and we'll be in the Bay Area at the end of June for my nephews' bar mitzvah. We'll also be back in early October for Adrienne's unveiling. I'll post details when I figure that out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Getting out

Last weekend, Curt and I went to our first show since Adrienne died, Terry Fator (the guy who won America's Got Talent). We've always been a family that enjoyed live theater of every type: music, comedy, drama, and so on. Adrienne would have loved Terry Fator and it made me think of all the shows we saw over the years: Jersey Boys, Phantom, Elton John, Cirque du Soleil, George Carlin, plus many, many more. When she and I went on an Alaskan cruise after the marathon in 2004, we saw two shows a night, grabbing a quick bite for dinner in between. One night, we asked the purser about that evening's shows and he told us it was impossible to see two shows a night. We laughed, telling him we'd done it every other night.

I found this recently and it explains how I feel much of the time.


What do we wish others understood about the loss of our child? Here is a partial list of such wishes:

I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important and I need to hear her name.

I wish you wouldn’t feel awkward if I mention her name.

If I cry or get emotional if we talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you hurt me: the fact that my child died has caused my tears. You have allowed me to cry and I thank you. Crying and emotional outbursts are healing.

I will have emotional highs and lows, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn’t think that if I have a good day my grief is all over, or if I have a bad day I need psychiatric counseling.

I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separately. It is the ultimate tragedy and I wish you wouldn’t compare it to the loss of a parent, spouse or pet.

Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me.

I wish you knew that all the “crazy” grief reactions that I am having are in fact very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following the death of a child.

I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. The first few years are going to be exceedingly traumatic for us.

As with alcoholics, I will never be “cured” or a “former bereaved parent,” but will forever be a “recovering bereaved parent.”

I wish you understood the physical reaction to grief. I may gain or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, lose my short-term memory, develop a host of illness and be accident prone, all of which may be related to my grief.

Our child’s birthday, the anniversary of her death, and the holidays are terrible times for us. I wish you could tell us that you are thinking about our child these days and if we get quiet and withdrawn, just know that we are thinking about our child and missing her terribly.

Please understand the I am not the same person I was before my child died, and do not expect me to "get back to my old self". I am forever changed, but if you give me a chance, you may find that you like the "new me".

Monday, February 01, 2010

Four months today

It's hard to believe that Adrienne left us four months ago today. Much of that time has been a blur. They tell me that numbness is what helps us cope. I often have vivid dreams about Adrienne and last night dreamt about her wedding. I so wish that we'd have that day.

I still receive condolence cards from time to time. Last week, I got one from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I'm not sure how they heard but she was involved in a number of their long term studies and always wanted to help. I assume that one of her more recent doctors informed them when they got yet another form to fill out, but Adrienne always did them happily.

I received another card that I'd like to share. "Dear Alison, I'm sorry this card took so long to send. Everytime I sat down to write it, my emotions got the best of me. As you know, she was perfect. Pretty, intelligent, and a wonderful personality. I can't even imagine the pain of your suffering. The only positive thing I can say from the heart is...you didn't have her long enough but she was perfect in every way the time you did. I pray a lot."