Fair Weather Friends And The Loss Of A Child

We lost our Emmy when she was twenty two years old. She was in her third year of college. She died of brain cancer, in nine months. She and I were very close, she was dearer to me than life. She still lived at home. She and I shared many of the same beliefs. We understood one another. She was very gentle and very kind. She loved animals more than human beings, she was oh so tender and compassionate. She was an artist and she was breathtakingly beautiful to look at, she was tall, and had flowing auburn hair, long legs, long arms, she ran like a deer with her head even and her pretty feet ever graceful upon the path. She was soft spoken and delicate in her ways. Her eyes were river water green and her lips were bee stung and pink.
Her spirit is never far from me, she is always there when I feel sad and defeated. Sometimes my sorrow is overwhelming, but I don't let it control me. I honor her laughing heart by still embracing the humor and the joy in the world around me. I live my life differently, I live with robust wonder and with deeper feeling for nature and for animals. I live life to the maximum at all times. I live without shame, I live with purpose, I live for both my daughter and for myself. I live in awe of every dawn, every storm, every snow flake, every tender butterfly that lights on a flower makes me grateful for what time I have here on earth. I am passionate and I make no apologies for my utter childishness.
I am not the same as I was before I lost her. I am only part of who I once was. It's been nearly five years and I've never figured out how to be in the world without her, not really. I get angry at holiday time, I feel bitter that she isn't here to run from her bed at five in the morning calling for everyone to get up and open their packages, even after she was sick, she loved Christmas morning.
We did not have a funeral, I couldn't face the crowds, the chatter, the irreverence that people show at such public events, I've done it myself, I never meant disrespect, everyone does it, they gossip and talk, they giggle under their breath with bright, amused eyes, but, I knew that I couldn't have handled any of it. Emmy was my baby, my youngest child, she was my life, the last one at home, if one person would have chuckled during a private conversation, I would have hit them with my fists and I wouldn't have been able to stop. I think people talked about us because we did not funeralize our daughter, I don't really care, she was ours, and we loved her deeply, too deeply for such a trivial display. To each their own, it was our decision to grieve privately, to honor her in our own way. Emmy was very private, she wouldn't have wanted a public ritual. She was bright and complex, deeply spiritual and profoundly private about this. I understood this, I knew her better than anyone.
Life goes on, we have a precious grandchild now, we have two other (just as wonderful children) to live for, and, of course, there are holidays that roll around. Recently, I decided that during each family gathering of significant importance, one of us would read her favorite poem by Oriah, The Invitation. It says everything about who Emmy was during her brief life on earth, it is so lovely, if you have time, please goggle it.
I know that I am not alone in my sorrow, that many people in the world are the same as I, many have broken hearts, hearts that bleed out again and again especially during the holidays.
I have been disappointed to find that my most beloved friends, the very ones I felt closest to, turned away from me during my most sorrowful time, the pain was too much to deal with I suppose, perhaps they thought it was contagious? I feel betrayed and I am sometimes bitter about this. I would never wish them this level of sadness, but sometimes, I do wish they knew how I missed their support and encouragement in the darkest of the longest nights at my daughters bedside and in the the years since. I see them out in stores sometimes, people that I knew as well as my own family, one I knew better than my own sister, and loved more than she will ever know. I have noticed that for the last few years, she diverts her eyes and looks away when she sees me, if I corner her, she makes nervous small talk and is glad when I let her go. There are others that just haven't bothered to maintain a relationship with me, it's too sad, who wants to hang around with someone who has lost a child, it's depressing, right? I never realized that grief causes discrimination, that it causes friends to harden their hearts in fear or dread, but, it does. The loss of a child either makes a couple stronger than ever or rips the foundation out from under them. I am thankful that my husband and I are closer than ever, we understand one anothers loss like no one else on earth ever will. We can cry together and we often do, still, regularly we weep together in private and it makes both of us feel understood and loved. We laugh too, our daughter was funny, and witty, and we remember our child with love and joy, with sweetness and with gratitude for her dear life and for our years with her. She couldn't have had a more loving Daddy, and I am eternally grateful for that. No one but the two of us understand how it was for us, how horrifying it was to see her lose her mind, her sight, go to sleep and not wake up. We share the joy and the sorrow together and we love one another more deeply than ever because we honor each others sorrow and loss.
When my friends turned away, at least I had my husband. 
hillbillycrone hillbillycrone
56-60, F
10 Responses Nov 27, 2011

I am so sorry for your loss. You can tell that you loved her with everything that you had and would say she was blessed to have a mother like you! She would be happy to see that you are living on in memory of her. Thank you for sharing your story so beautifully,and for making me realize that everyday spent with my own babies is not to be taken for granted. After reading this I never will! thank you!

This warms my heart, you are a blessed woman to have those babies, always enjoy them, even on the days when you want to cry from exhaustion.....celebrate their life forces!

Troubles shared are troubles halved, pleasures shared are doubled.........<br />
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We are privileged to be allowed such an open view of your private pain.<br />
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Being able to engage and contribute is its own reward,<br />
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the appreciation, bouquets, hugs and respect are a bonus!

You are a jewel of a man, bless you for your thoughtful words of care, hugging you ProfDavros.

To ProfDavis<br />
Thank you for your generous offerings of encouragment and support. Your suggestions are received with my warmest appreciation. <br />
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It is clear that you have special knowledge (I am very sorry for your personal pain and sorrow) <br />
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You cannot know how much it means to me for someone to take the time to speak with kindness and frankness about this very difficult topic. <br />
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My appreciation comes with bouquets of hugs and respect. S

'morning friend......<br />
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How to express my reaction to this piece - sorrow, joy in places (Emmy's energy is apparent and clear through your writing of her), shared irritation that some people don't show respect in public (know how to?) empathy with your loss (I have a son who changed through brain injury), with the change it brings to you and your husband....<br />
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I know of "The Invitation", read it years ago - a very powerful piece.<br />
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People generally don't know what to do with their grief when seeing parents in your position - they fear their own feelings, are worried they'll break down, won't say the 'right' thing to you etc. I know as a young adult I've let friends down at times when a situation was unusual enough that I didn't know how to act.<br />
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It's unfortunate we spend twelve thousand hours teaching children lots of things at school as they turn into adults, but not the useful things that we hope they won't need: how to comfort a friend in grief.<br />
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There is no set time for grief - those who think so haven't experienced it deeply enough I suspect. When doing an Expressive Therapy course for helping teenagers and children to deal with strong emotions, I learned much about my own carried and suppressed grief and pain. <br />
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It is healthy to let it out appropriately when it arises - not to bottle it up. It will come and go, be triggered by the oddest things. It is healthy to embrace and express it when it does, within a supportive circle or with a friend is best. To acknowledge, cherish, release, breathe......<br />
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I wish I had an ability to help bolster that support for you both when you feel vulnerable - doesn't seem like nearly enough doing it from here.<br />
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I imagine your friends' ongoing reactions arise from embarrassment that the one time they could have been there they were more worried about their own feelings than yours. Hopefully they and you can reconcile the issues - or maybe it's time to put energy into other friendships which are supportive.<br />
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As a practical suggestion, have you considered writing about your daughter - to create an eternal word picture as you've started above? As a witch, you would understand the power of the right words to create magic, to heal, to energise........to realign your grief and straighten your soul? Your writing above stired my soul, brought tears and compassion. You have the skills to do it well.<br />
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Apologies if I'm stepping on any corns...... It's presumptuous to offer advice in these situations. But then again, maybe that's what friends are called to do - put aside their own fears of your reaction, open their hearts, offer their honest thoughts and opinions.<br />
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My love to you and your family in this difficult time.

I am sorry for your loss. Your strength amazes me and the insensitivity of some people baffles me. I think like others have said it is definitely a reflection of other people's inability to handle the situation or their own insecurities and fears. Your daughter was a very special person and you have a lovely family. ((HUGS))

Ahhh lagatta, I thank you my precious friend, for your kindness and for your gentle spirit, it always shines through in your comments.

She sounds like she was beautiful, keep living life to its fullest and honoring Emmy:)

Thank you ever kindly for your reading of this post and for your thoughtful and encouraging comment. I shall.

This is so heartbreakingly sad and beautiful at the same time. Thank you for sharing your story. I don't find it surprising that your friends have turned away. They cannot bear to see your suffering because they see the possibility of themselves in the same situation and it frightens them to realise that something could be so painful. People are mostly not equipped to deal with such things. None of us should be of course, because the loss of a child is just not what is supposed to happen. But it does of course. You're so lucky to have the strength of your husband to lean on, but most of all lucky to be such a strong person yourself, although I suppose you will deny that and say you are weak. Thanks so much for this insight into dealing with such a tragedy.

No, I realize that I am very strong, yet, still, grief does make one crash now and then. Holidays are triggers. Thank you so very much for commenting, I agree with your thoughtful words. I appreciate your kindness.

Thanks lil Ralphie, that makes me smile.

Sometimes all you need a friend to do is hold your hand.<br />
I'm sending much love to you and your family.<br />
Please keep living life with all of your heart.

Thank you for the love, I can use it today. ;-)

sigh....<br />
hug....<br />
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everyone needs to read this! you words hit home, i don't understand why such good friends... walk away when they do not know what to do...so they do nothing? huh....<br />
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you write well, sad story ... my heart broke as i read.<br />
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Blessings to you and your husband.

Thanks so much for reading this, and for your kindness.