Dear Dr. Meg,
I lost my oldest son, 39, in November 2013 in a car crash. I am still grieving over his loss. It was he and I for years. His Dad and me divorced when he was a baby. A parent should not outlive their children!
It wasn’t until 11 years later I remarried, but we were everything to each other. He always said “Just you and me Mom, just you and me”. We were very close. I am still grieving over him and I will till the day I die. He left me 2 wonderful grandchildren, 14 and 13. I am thankful and told him “I love you” everyday. The last time I saw him was in May 2013 when I left for California to help my youngest son. We hugged, said “I love you” to each other. He said “Just you and me Mom, just you and me”. Yes, hon, always. Next thing, I get this phone call at 0345 from one of my other sons, saying that he was dead. My heart just ripped in two.
I could feel the knife cutting through my heart again. Oh, it hurts so much! I had forgotten how it hurt when my husband passed away. But you know when it is your child it is a different pain! Your child is part of you; your flesh and blood. You carried them for 9 months, you feed them, breathe for them, you felt their movements and their kicks. Not like your spouse.
I’ve been seeing a therapist through the V.A. for years for ‘PTSD’ from war zones cause of ‘M.S.T’. The therapist I had this last year (new one) thought I should be over my grief by June 2014. She couldn’t understand why I still wasn’t. That I was even still grieving over the loss of my husband, Jan 1995. Left 2 children, 1 boy (9), 1 girl (7). My therapist told me I should not still be grieving over the loss of my son.
When I lost my husband, I guess someone was looking out for the kids. The school the kids went to had a week long session for grieving kids who had lost a family member. I put both my children in this class. It did help some but not much. My daughter really never got over the loss of her Daddy. Of course she was a Daddy’s girl. ]She is now 28 and she still ask things about Daddy and if he did this or that. If she got this from Daddy’s side of the family. She is tall and big like her Daddy. My son doesn’t really ask questions and when he does it shocks me.
I didn’t know what to tell the kids and didn’t know how to deal with their problems of losing my husband. All I did was to be honest with them about him, hug them and tell them everyday, several times a day, that “I love you” or “I loved them”. What else could I do? I was new to this too. Now I’ve lost my son. I do also tell his kids “I love you” and hug them when I see them. I, again don’t know what to do or how. I will I hope help my Grandchildren through this time.
I know, Dr. Meg you rely on God’s help. I used to but I feel I have no faith in God now. I lost my best friend, my soul mate and my loving husband. I lost my other friend, my buddy, my son. I know I should, but I cannot trust God now. I know I should. Only the only sin I’ve committed is turning my back on God. I’m sorry Dr. Meg but I can’t help it. It has taken me 3 weeks to write this message. A friend sent me a comment you made on facebook. So, I took time and read a lot. I follow your page. I like it, too.
I am not sure what I’m asking for or trying to say here. What I feel or need. I just felt the need to write.
A Grieving Mother
You are a faithful, kind and loving woman swallowed by dark grief but I have good news for you. First, I do believe that your therapist is wrong. Expecting a mother to be finished grieving the loss of a son after 1 1/2 years is wrong. The truth is, you will never completely get over the loss of your son BUT the pain you feel now should become less intense over time.
You say that you can’t trust God and I totally get it. He has let you down and you feel that He has betrayed you. I felt that way after a very close loved one of mine died. I thought that God turned His back on me and for months and months I refused to pray. I told Him that if He was real, then He was going to have to show me because I didn’t believe Him anymore. In time, he showed me that He is real in a deeply personal way and He will show you too if you are willing to see.
There is something I want you to think about: God knows exactly how you feel because He lost his son too. Jesus was God’s only child. He was an amazing child and loved his father with all of his heart and died when he was 33. In fact, do you remember what Jesus said on the cross? He said exactly what your heart feels right now, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Even he thought God abandoned him.
So what gives? Here’s the thing that you must remember- your story about losing your son and Jesus’ story about feeling abandoned and God’s story of losing his son doesn’t end there. None of the stories end with heartache because Christ came back to life. God got to see his son go through death and then be restored. Jesus came to realize that while he thought God had abandoned him, he really hadn’t. And you need to know that God hasn’t abandoned you or your son either. Your son is alive! I think that he can hear you and I think that he knows that you are reading this letter right now. The problem for you is that you are in so much pain you can’t see this.
Heaven is real. If you had faith in God once, some part of you believes that so hold onto it. Your son is not dead in the ground; he just isn’t sitting next to you anymore. He is with your beloved husband.
There is another thing that I want you to think about. Could it be that part of you doesn’t want to let go of some of your grief over either your son or your husband because if you do allow yourself some happiness, you feel that you will betray them? If, for instance, you let your son “go” and be happy for him in the life that he lives in Heaven and you didn’t feel so terribly sad all the time about him, would you feel that you aren’t a loving mother? This is a very common feeling in parents or spouses who have lost a loved one.
Finally, I want to encourage you to start looking at the great blessings right in front of you, your grandchildren. They need a grandmother who is tough enough to roll up her sleeves and help them. They don’t have a dad and they hurt in ways very different from you. So help them. Put aside your grief for a few hours a day and do whatever you can to cheer them up, talk to them on the phone (or see them if you can.) They need you to be their dad for them so do this. He will watch from heaven and be so proud of you.