Dear Son or Daughter,
First, I want to say I’m sorry, but I’m not going to say it, because I know you will hear those words so much they may become meaningless. I can, however, tell you I empathize with your loss. I embrace you and send you love.
I want to share with you:
- It’s okay to cry. And laugh. And be angry. However else are your feelings, feel them. Experience them. Let them flow through you, around you, and onward, each in its time.
- You don’t have to be strong.
- Moments will make you suddenly, unexpectedly sad, angry, lost, depressed – all emotions singularly or all at once.
- There will be firsts, but not the way you had imagined them. First birthday, first date, first day of high school, first child, – all firsts without your parent.
- “I wonder…” I wonder what my mom would think. I wonder if dad would approve. I wonder how my life would have been.
- Why me? Why us? This is a tough one. Why not you? It can seem as though you were targeted. I remember standing in the living room with my mother holding me and my asking her “why?” I still wonder why it happened then, but now I firmly know my father had work to do “on the other side” and he still watches over me.
- There is not a right time. You did nothing wrong. There’s no guilt to be assigned. Maybe you made a different decision than you would now. That’s okay. You aren’t a bad person. They didn’t leave you to hurt you and you aren’t being punished.
- Laughing is good. In fact, I recommend allowing laughter to flow as easily as tears. Some people may not understand you are healing and honoring your parent’s memory. That’s their story, their journey. Yours is to remember and heal.
- Your parent’s passing is not a sign for you to grow up.
- “I’m sorry”. Ugh. What does that mean? It means people mean well and words fail at times like this. It means death is awkward. To you, these words may become meaningless, as well as other things people will say. At one point into my grieving, I remember responding to ‘I’m sorry’ with “It’s okay. It wasn’t your fault.” This was interpreted as being callous and unfeeling. Nope. It meant I was grieving and just couldn’t stand to hear “I’m sorry” one more time. Did I mention people mean well? Acknowledge their kindness with a “thank you”. You’re going to be okay.
- You will grow older and still miss your mom and/or dad. You will laugh at something you remember or cry because you don’t. You may still be emotional remembering the loss. Remember to be kind and loving to yourself.
- Grief is not linear. You may begin healing soon or maybe late. You may realize you are healed or you may suddenly realize you never did. Consider that the longer you take, the longer you are stealing happier times from your own story.
- Mom or Dad didn’t want to leave you any more than you wanted them to leave. In that thought, you share a sweet embrace.
- Try not to look at this loss as never anything being the same again. Rather, you will have a different life experience than first imagined.
- Talk. And talk some more. Write out your feelings and write some more. Keep reaching out as you feel the need to reach and don’t stop until you find someone to reach back.
- Take your grieving energy and when able, use it to good purpose. This is a rotten club of which to have membership. Begin or join an established group for grieving kids. Be a community volunteer. Write a blog of your journey. Do what fits your heart.
- Parent caregivers experience two losses – one of that role and that of losing your mom or dad. Again, remember to be kind to yourself. Take all of the time you need.
- Do away with guilt. At any given moment, you did the best you could with what you knew at the time.
- It may feel like your parent took a piece of you with them when they died. It just feels like that and the other side is they left a legacy that is you. Take comfort that as human beings, we are all of light, sharing the human experience. Keep living. There is no beginning. There is no ending. But there is everything in between.
- Write a letter. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to go to a cemetery in order to talk to your mom or dad. You can talk to them any where or at any time. Sometimes it’s easier to write or draw. Grieve in your own way. Do things that make you feel connected.
There will be days of wandering in your heart, looking for a safe place to rest. Keep the faith. You will find the resting place in its time. Don’t give up looking. Forty-six years after my father’s passing and sixteen since my mother passed. I still get teary over “wishes” and “might have beens”, but I smile as well, with the thought that dad and mom are lingering over these words as I write, and they are smilingly sad, too.