I can say without reservation that the years spent grieving the loss of my daughter, daily missing her presence, created a loneliness harsher than anything I could ever have imagined. Now, throw in an isolating, disruptive virus floating through our cities and towns, large and small.
With sixteen years of grieving experience on my “life resume,” my attention over the past few weeks has turned to moms and dads who are “new grievers,” those trying to navigate fresh grief when everything in the country – even planning a funeral or memorial service – is out of working order. You have many concerns and worries. My prayers, carried deeply in my soul, are for your comfort.
Maybe you have other people physically in your presence, or like me, you are at home alone. I’m kind of tired of hearing people whine about how tough it is to be “stuck at home” with their kids, coming up with clever ideas and innovative activities to get through this terrible time of being at home with the family.
Now, I’m not minimizing the challenges of setting up school at home and feeding hungry people all day long, believe me. I just wish these people on TV and dancing happily across electronic screens doing chores in their kitchens and cooking in the backyard had any idea of how very fortunate they are. Many parents are living in agony and would give anything and everything to have had more days, months, years with their precious children – even when they were aggravating the heck out of you. It’s impossible to communicate these feelings to anyone who has not lost a child, so I’m trusting you with my thoughts.
Right now you are dealing with the sorrow and isolation of today. Don’t look past today – today is enough. Take yourself outside for a while. If possible, take a short walk – it might turn into a longer walk when you realize walking helps to air out your feelings a little. This is a time to put yourself first when possible, as hard as that may be. Sit down with a book even if you can’t read more than a few pages. Eat something though you don’t feel hungry. (I had some popcorn and a bite of chocolate cake for breakfast, so who am I to be giving advice on nutrition?) Take a quick ride through a drive-through for a cold drink, some small treat to break up the day. Settle down with meditation or prayer though you feel as though you can’t focus. Try something for just a short time to calm your soul. My motto through the years has been “make the bed.” What???? To me that means to accomplish some small task, some little job that puts just a jot of order and routine to my day. It helped me emotionally and psychologically to pull back the covers on the bed each night rather than toss around in a tangled mess. I would think – I’ve made it through a day – now I can leave it behind and see what happens tomorrow.
You may feel like you are doing better in isolation. I have those times too. But, as you have already likely learned, time can turn on you in an instant, compounding your grief, isolation and loneliness. Reach out through Compassionate Friends to the other moms and dads who are struggling and who know your walk. Listen to what they are living. And, here’s something you may not have thought about – you are helping someone else when you have honest conversation with another grieving parent. When you become able to soothe someone else’s pain, you will recognize that your own healing has begun. It’s a privilege to share your pain.
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