Each morning the Sun rises and each evening the Sun sets on the horizon. In between these times of beauty is a life to be lived. In the days gone by, the rising of the Sun signaled a new day. A day that could be filled with many different emotions and feelings. Laughter, angerfind something to complain about.
The dark hours of the night, were often times spent in enjoying life with friends and family and then falling into a comfortable bed to dream of the pleasant things that had transpired during the day. On occasions, these dreams would be elevated into nightmares, to be laughed and joked about, the following day. In retrospect, that life is as unreal to a grieving parent as the lives they live today.
No parent ever expects their child to die. Even though a parent constantly worries about their child or children, the reality of their child’s death is just something that happens to other people and not to them. No parent absorbs those dreadful words at the time they are spoken. “Your child is dead!
These words destroy a parent’s life more quickly than anything imaginable. There are no words to describe the emotion a parent feels on hearing the words “Your child is dead!” The initial shock and unreality of the situation sends you into a fantasy world of watching yourself go through the motions. So much has to be organized, on a practical level. The world passes in a blur of sleepless nights and tearful days. The anticipation of waking up from this nightmare builds to a crescendo, which crashes down around you as you realize that this is your new reality and not a dream...
Time marches on and you are dragged along in its wake. Days and nights blend into one, a perpetual twilight zone in which you exist.
At times the nights seem to be harder than the days. You lie sleepless in your darkened room, buffeted every which way, as tidal waves of grief; swamp your mind with the reality of your child’s death. Other times the days are harder than the darkness of nightfall as you hopelessly wait to hear the precious sound of your child’s voice or footsteps.
Acceptance and denial, clashing with each other as you play the part of a normal human. Avoidance and escapism, that used to be so easy, when things didn’t go your way in your previous life now become a means of existing in world that is no longer real. Eventually these options are no longer available to you and you learn to live as half a person in a world that revolves around you.
Your true feelings buried deep and pushed into the shadows of your heart and soul as you face a future filled with more emptiness and anguish than the grains of sand in the largest desert. Self recrimination become part of your waking moments. You are extremely aware their death is no fault of your own and yet these doubts gnaw away at the foundation of your sanity. Even though you did everything for your child out of pure love, it feels like you did not love them enough to prevent their death.
The days, indistinguishable from each other pass into months and years. You learn to laugh and you learn to exist in this new twilight zone. People around you accept you at face value, a face you have carefully cultivated over time to hide the truth of your reality, from the rest of the world. Moments of true happiness pierce the shroud of darkness and you grasp these moments with both hands, as you know the intense loneliness will again cloak you in a fog that no light appears to penetrate and no hope can be found.
These moments of light do strengthen and glow for longer periods, but you never know when the thunder clouds will roll in, blotting out these moments of peace and light, dragging you down into the pits of despair and hopelessness.
This is the reality of the unreal world a grieving parent contends with each moment, each day each year - a lifetime – until they reach their final milestone of life and their questions are answered in death.