Written by Sarah Pridham, mum of Jasper, for Still Aware.
Does it? Does pain ever really end? Both questions where I believe that the answer is no, especially if the pain is caused by grief and grief never truly ends. I did a google search to the question (even though within my heart I knew the answer to it) – Does grief ever end? The answer I was confronted with was “Grief, however, never truly ends, especially if that hurt was deep. A person may feel that he or she is through with grieving, and then a song, a scene from a movie or a ‘déjà vu’ event will trigger a bittersweet sadness. But with each recurrence of that grief, the pain will lessen”.
I don’t believe that pain ends, and I certainly do not believe in the saying ‘time heals all wounds’, but I do believe that the pain does lessen with time. It takes a long time for the pain of grief to lessen. Currently, I am 21 months into my grief journey, my journey of life after loss and I remember reading so many articles and books that stated ‘it will get better’ or ‘it will hurt less’ and at the time I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at those statements. So, what do I think about those statements 21 months after my loss?
It does not ‘get better’ – instead, I believe that you learn to live a ‘new normal’ – you adjust your life so that you continue to live alongside the pain and the grief, it becomes part of your daily routine, part of the ‘normal’ aspect to your life (even though your life is far from normal and will never be normal again). It does not ‘hurt less’ – instead, you learn to adjust to the pain, you carry the pain with you at every moment. At times the pain feels less intense, however, at other times when you least expect it that wave of grief creeps up and pulls you back under and at those points in time the pain feels even more intense. This is grief in its truest form.
I read a lot of books to do with grief, life after loss and also stories based on other parents who experience the loss of a baby and last night, I finished reading one called “I Miss His Everything” by Dawn S.Gilner. For so many parts of this book, I felt like I was reading my own emotions, thoughts and feelings and the best way to describe this amazing, raw, honest and heartbreaking story and how it relates to my own personal story is to quote from the book directly.
“He died over and over again in my mind. Every single time I remembered that day – he died again. Every time I woke up and felt that familiar “something is wrong” feeling in the pit of my stomach, I had to remember, and he died again. Every time I retold the story, he died again. Every time I had a nightmare about the day – he died again. And every time I had a dream he was still alive and woke up only to find out he was still gone – he died again”.
“Grief is peculiar in that it is not linear. It does not progressively get better. There were days when I felt really good and really strong. Then the next day, it hurt all over again, just as bad as before, sometimes worse. It became a constant roller coaster, changing each day, sometimes hour to hour, sometimes minute to minute”.
Reading these sorts of books really helps me to find a little more strength to keep moving forward – knowing other people’s stories and knowing that somehow, they managed to get through it gives me the little push I need to keep going during the hard days. People have incredible strength, a strength that no one knows they actually have deep within – until you have experienced something so devastating until you are put in a situation where you have to find a way to survive, you really don’t know how much strength you actually have.
So, does the pain end – No! It just gets easier to live with. If you are a newly bereaved parent then know that the pain does not end but slowly, over time, you adjust to a new way of life, a way that includes the pain – you learn to live with it. Just like love and grief coincide hand in hand, so does pain and grief. 21 months later I continue to work through one day at a time – embrace and work through the pain – just remember to breathe. You will get through it, you won’t expect to, but out of nowhere our inner strength shines through and during these moments you will learn how truly incredibly strong you are. Remember “the struggle you are in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow”.
I am just going to end this blog with a poem that I have found that relates to a parent’s grief when they lose a child.
A Parents Grief
A child should not pass before
Their parent’s lives are through.
When they’re so young and full of life
And had, so much more to do.
No time for dates, nor teenage years
No time for their first dance.
Prom night missed, no first kiss
They didn’t get that chance.
No true love, no time to wed
No children of their own.
With aching hearts and empty arms
Into such grief, they’re thrown.
Forced to say goodbye too soon
To grief they could succumb.
Loss of your child, is not something
You could ever overcome.
Don’t you judge the grieving parent
If you know not, how it feel.
Their lives have been, forever changed
Their heartbreak NEVER heals.
– Toni Kane