The first thing I have to say is that a parent can have no expectations as to how much time your recovery will take. You’ll hear things all over the board. For me, two years seemed to generally be the beginning of my turn-around time, but everyone is going to be different. I certainly don’t want to sound callous. That was my perception of another bereaved mom’s statement when all this was fresh and excruciating in my life. At that time, I could not imagine that this unbearable ache would ever subside. Hearing her words, I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat as unbearable emotions began to bubble up. I had thought her comments were absolutely heartless, yet her statement that after two years, she was so much better, echoed for years in my head. At that time, only four months after his death, I was just not ready to receive that message.
Well, all I can tell you is what my own experience was and continues to be. You follow no one’s rules but your own in your “return trip” following the loss of a child. It comes down to taking it one day at a time and many times one hour or even one minute at a time.
Expect that you will never be exactly the same person you were before. I eventually got to the point after several months when I recognized that I needed to “reinvent” myself. And that came only after I accepted that I should stay on this Earth. How to do that was the real challenge. With the help of a wonderful and compassionate friend, I created the “Close to the Heart” Transplant Support Group locally.
The group was intended to support others who were anywhere on the organ or tissue transplant spectrum. This included patients just learning from their physician that a transplant may be necessary. It also consisted of those who have already been evaluated and those listed for transplant. Of course, it was also for those who already had a transplant and provided a platform for common conversation of all these people and, just as importantly, their families, who are their greatest support.
We also provided support for families who lost a loved one waiting for a transplant, for whom a donor never came, and for families who lost a loved one following their transplant. Everyone will have different interests, perhaps concentrating on something related to their own precious child, as was mine. Regardless of the focus, your heart will begin to heal knowing you are helping others.
Another method for me was consulting with a psychic medium and hearing about how well Josh had adapted to “life on the other side.” This provided much relief for me and later, even smiles as I heard his reflections from the other side and that he had retained his sense of humor. It was comforting knowing that he was warm, loved and finally breathing easy.
I also consulted, at about six months out, with a female psychologist who, as it turned out, had also lost a son. As this general time frame fell not only my birthday, his birthday but also Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was a very overwhelming situation. Because I found myself planning to start the car in the garage and sit there ‘til my pain was gone, I suddenly realized I needed to talk to someone who could help. This was someone who actually understood how I felt!
I guess what it all comes down to is that we do what we personally need to do in order to survive and learn how to live a more peaceful life. Maybe you can share here how you have navigated this tortuous and difficult path.