When I found a link to this
article that labeled it merely "A parent’s lessons on living with grief, 10 years after her daughter died", I already knew that clicking on it would be bad for me.
But I did it anyway, of course. Because I'd had a bad day and didn't mind an excuse to cry? Because it's my mom's birthday? Because I was intrigued at that "10 years after." Because I'll read anything on the subject, in the hopes of feeling understood or just feeling less alone. As I said
a couple of years ago,
I suppose it's because losing a brother at what we've been lead to believe is such an unnaturally young age is a rare thing now; it doesn't happen to a lot of people, so it's easy to feel lost and bewildered and alone.
I'm always hungry for anything that helps alleviate that loneliness.
The situation I read about in this long, wrenching, beautiful article ended up being eerily similar to my parents': a child in their early 20s dying in a car crash this time of year. It was ten years ago for this writer; it'll be nine for my parents in less than two weeks.
You hear a lot about the immediate aftermath of such a shock, and people kinda know what to expect, but what is there to say as the years go on and on? I was wondering this just today. And here I have an answer to that question.
Maybe that's why this is by far the most resonant and comforting thing I've ever read on the subject of the effects losing a child has on the immediate family.
I poured myself a glass of wine I felt I'd well-deserved as tears dried on my cheeks after I'd finished reading it, but I'm still very glad I did read this article. Because one of my big hang-ups is having to, trying to, failing to find words for my brother and my family now that I'm surrounded with people who didn't know him or what our lives were like then. None of my chosen family (with the exception of Andrew, of course) knew me when he was alive, which means they never knew the person I used to be...because I haven't been able to be that person since. Here at least are some of the words I haven't been able to find for myself.
Of course this writer's situation is very different in many details but surprisingly many of the experiences match. And in seeing familiar but always-unspoken reactions and insights reflected in this way, I feel like a part of myself that is usually hidden -- because neither I nor anyone around me seem to know what to do with it -- is being held up to the light. Reading this, I nodded a lot. I remembered a lot. It's awful to relive these memories but it's a relief to feel understood. It's worth it.
My parents are, by temperament or circumstances or both, not articulate people; they were not educated as this woman was, and they're part of a culture that (to put it mildly!) doesn't encourage or reward such openness. So to read here so many words that remind me of my own mom, particularly, feels like a kind of gift. I'm afforded a glimpse I never thought I could get of how my mom might have thought and felt, thanks to someone in circumstances similar enough that I can see my own parents and I all over her terrible, beautiful words.