‘You become a different mother, a different spouse, a different friend.’: Mom shares how grief over loss of son changed her

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“What no one can be prepared for, and what no one seems to tell you (or understand, for that matter) is that when you are a parent who has buried a child, I think especially a child you raised for years (my son, 24)…is that it goes WAY beyond a grieving process. You know instantly that your life and your heart have changed, and that you are broken forever. But you become a different person, no matter how hard you try to find your former ‘normal self.’ A mother becomes a different mother, a different spouse, a different friend. Your children suddenly have a mother who is very different from the mother before. Helicopter mode, more protective, more concern of whereabouts, I could go on.

And while others are grieving at the SAME TIME, they don’t and cannot grieve the way that a mother does, and no one really understands. You become an actor. You have to, really, because others would be far too uncomfortable around us if we didn’t. You try to fit into the same crowds, with the same people as you did before, and I think that others do TRY to understand what a grieving mother is going through, but can’t.

A young man wearing a baseball hat backwards sits in a car
Courtesy of Judy Curly

Our mood swings seem bizarre, even to ourselves. No one can understand that we are caught just as off guard by them as everyone else is. In the middle of an especially sad day, something can strike us as so funny that it can cause nearly uncontrollable laughter. The same happens sometimes with anger. The hardest is when you are having a really great day or a great couple of weeks, with the sadness that follows you around like a shadow you cannot shake, some LITTLE thing, maybe even a scent or a phrase someone uses, sends you right back to the moment that the pain first hit you when you experienced the loss of your child.

I read something recently about how everyone in your life has a different view of who you are, no matter if they know you intimately or as part of a group. Their perception of you is not only based on who you are as you present yourself to them, no matter how consistent, but also on the way that their own personality PERCEIVES who you are. Everyone has a persona that changes, even if it seems only slight, depending upon who you are with, and how comfortable you are with them. What we don’t really realize sometimes is that our own perception of ourselves is likely far from what others see in us. I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are no words, no actions, and nothing that a grieving parent can ever portray outwardly to make even ONE person understand EVER again what they are experiencing from moment to moment. Not even another grieving parent.

It isn’t because we all grieve differently. It is simply because the person that we lost was unique in this world, just as unique as those who are still living. It is because we all love each person differently, and the person we lost still exists in the relationships we have in our minds, in our hearts, and in our memories. We buried our children, but they didn’t leave us spiritually, only in the flesh. We live every day longing for what we know we will never have again, no matter what. It is because we have been forced to understand what the words ALWAYS, NEVER, and FOREVER mean, but we hear other people use those words as if they are cheap, somehow.

We can’t even imagine what our children would have looked like on their next birthdays if they were still here. We will never know if they grew gray hair or bald, if they’d be skinny or overweight, and if they would have experienced the happiness that all mothers dream of for their children. We won’t know them as a father/mother. We won’t have those multi-generation photos like others get to have. Our Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, and holidays are ALWAYS going to be incomplete, no matter how we try. We don’t want you to be uncomfortable around us, we certainly WANT you to say our child’s name. Help us keep them alive the best way you can!

We didn’t ask or want to feel this way. We want to be the person we were before. We don’t want to be in this stupid club. We were really okay with being like all of the others, all of the ones who never had to endure this. We didn’t think it would ever happen to US, either. No matter what happened that took our child from us, we feel guilt, too. No one else can make us feel more guilty, and no one else can take our guilt feelings away. We pray. Not just occasionally. We pray a lot. We know that we are still here because there is obviously still a job for us to do here; but it doesn’t make it any easier, not one bit.

So, when people think that grieving parents are using their grief, giving in to their grief, not trying enough, and unable to get ‘over’ our losses, that we should be grateful for all that we still have, for the love that still surrounds us. Judge us because of the relationships that are changed, that we seem distant, we cry too much, we are sometimes really hard to be around, that we have gained weight, aged, look like hell a lot of the time or look surprisingly look normal for once…let me just tell you: you are so right. About all of it. Respect us for it. Or judge us. That’s all on you. Your opinions of us are not our business. I promise we don’t care if you do, because, to us, it means you are one of the lucky ones. You don’t belong to this club. We hope that you NEVER do. My children are my world, my heart. A piece of my heart is missing its hard to go on.”

A young man wearing a baseball cap lying on his back on a bed
Courtesy of Judy Curly

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Judy Curly. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos

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