I went to a wedding last weekend. It was the wedding of my son Davey’s first love. She is a beautiful girl and I have kept in touch with her since losing my son almost five years ago. When I accepted the invitation, I figured it may be a little difficult for us (my daughter was attending as well), but we wanted to be there for her special day. Boy, did I get that one wrong. It was brutal and it brought all kinds of pain and what if’s that I had been able to keep at bay for a while.
My son Davey passed away in April 2014, the result of a car accident. It’s still very difficult to talk about the immediate aftermath of that night. I was shocked and hysterical and in denial. My son had just landed his dream job three months earlier. The day he died was the day he had finished training and had been assigned to his unit. I just couldn’t grasp what had happened. The week of his funeral, I barely remember a thing. I was so angry. Angry at the young men who had been carelessly street racing. Angry that they took off like cowards and left my son there to die alone. Angry at God. Why on earth would he take my baby?
That first year was so awful. I was despondent, I was angry and the worst part was, I felt so alone. I was surrounded by my family who would have done anything to get me through the pain. I just didn’t think they could relate. I had lost my child. I had convinced myself that unless someone has lost a child, they just didn’t get it. It wasn’t true, of course, we were all hurting, in different ways.
I did something that I am convinced saved my life and that was to start seeing a grief counselor. She helped me to understand my grief and how it works. Dealing with so many other emotions along with the pain. There was so much soul searching during this time. I had to figure out how to survive in a life I didn’t want or ask for. I had to eventually resolve my anger at God. Although I will never completely understand why my son had to be taken. It is comforting to me to think he was needed for a bigger purpose.
All the hard work I put in with the grief counselor (and continue to put in) has a way of crashing down around me when faced with a trigger. Normally, I keep things safely tucked into my heart and then BAM, something like the wedding comes along. We were robbed of Davey. Of his own wedding and maybe a family of his own. Seeing people that he knew and grew up with. Getting on with their lives. While Davey’s was cut short. I was sitting at the wedding and those feelings swirled around me and for a minute, I couldn’t breathe. Through all the reading, reflecting and counseling I have done, I was able to calm down. Before, I would just dive right into my pain. Now, I have learned that I can get through these moments even if it does take a while. And then I try to tuck it away until the next trigger.
Those triggers will always come, regardless of how long it has been since Davey passed. I have a beautiful new grandson. When I look at him, I can see Davey. And that makes me both happy and sad and can even trigger that pain.
Losing a child is probably the worst thing one can endure. I have had to become a new person. The old Debbie is gone forever. I have learned the simple things in life are what matters. I have worked hard to find joy in my life again. I have decided that I can be kinder and more grateful for what I do have. I wrote a book, Follow Your Bliss, because I want to reach out to others who have lost a child. I want readers to know they aren’t alone and to offer love and support to them.
I want to do these things because they honor’s my son’s memory and they bring me a little bit of peace. And because my son would expect no less from me.
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