23 June 2009

Losing My Child: Living In and Through Grief (Pt 3)

OK, now turning attention to the book Good Grief as previously discussed. The book is basically an examination of a ten step process that most all people in grief experience in some form or another. So, let us start with step one: State of Shock.

Most everyone experiencing a traumatic experience...a life altering experience, go through a period of shock. During this time, the pain and grief may not hit home, and we don't immediately feel the effects of the situation in front of us. While this stage of the process can vary in the amount of time it from minutes to hours to days, it should not last for weeks. If it last too long, it can become unhealthy, not just mentally/emotionally, but also physically.

This stage can help us to to maintain some rationality in the face of tragedy; to keep from breaking into complete panic. Often times, people who have never experienced grief of extreme nature, will view those who have and are in this stage, as having great faith and strength. This can be seen as a great emotional mechanism in times like these, and glory be to God for giving us this short time of "control."

The important point with this stage, is that it should not last long, and one of the ways to break through this stage is to get back on the horse and get active with life again. If we allow ourselves to be too idle, or refuse to proceed on, then it can prolong this stage to unhealthy ends. Loved ones, in a effort to "help out" can often prolong this stage, by trying too hard to take over the normal life processes in an effort to relieve your stress. The important thing to do is to get back to life, get back to being busy, get back to a normal pace.

Unfortunately for me, this stage was forced upon me and quite painfully so. Since I run the mail order book store, orders didn't stop during this time, and getting them out quickly is required often, so I had to get back to business the very day of my son's passing. On top of that, I had spent the prior two years teaching my son Jonathan as much about the business as I could, and he was the one responsible for the daily pulling, packing, labeling and mailing of all packages. This was his main source of income, since he was basically too weak to get any other normal job (though he greatly desired and spoke of his wish to get a "real" job. So, for me to get back in and take over the packages, I was essentially doing my son's job, and that tore me up even more each and every day I did it. I still, to this day, over six weeks later, can see him sitting at my desk doing the job, and it brings tears to my eyes for me to do so.

After about four weeks, I finally got the will power and desire up to begin teaching my son Alex this job. Beginning from scratch, teaching someone all over again, was also a painful process, as it too brought back so many memories of the way Jonathan did things, and the depth and understanding that he had acquired that I now had to walk through in small steps for Alex. Fortunately, he has caught on quickly, and is doing a fine job now, so it has helped.

So, while I still feel a twinge of that shock, mainly do to my unanswered questions I can't seem to let go of, I do feel that for all intents and purposes, I did quickly pass through this first stage, into the second stage...emotion.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7