Monday, October 19, 2009

The Gap

This is from The Compassionate Friends web site.  

By Sharon Throop 

We lost our only daughter, Wendy, 13 years ago the 12th of next month. I was just sent a prose, that sums up so much for so many who walk this road. You may have read it before, but if not, send it on to some of your friends and realize that it sums up the loss of our children.

The Gap

The gap between those who have lost children and those who have not
is profoundly difficult to bridge. No one whose children are well
and intact can be expected to understand what parents who have lost
children have absorbed, what they bear. Our children now come to us
through every blade of grass, every crack in the sidewalk, every
bowl of breakfast cereal, every kid on a scooter. We seek contact
with their atoms - their hairbrushes, toothbrushes, their clothing.
We reach out for what was integrally woven into the fabric of our
lives, now torn and shredded. A black hole has been blown through
our souls and, indeed,it often does not allow the light to escape.
It is a difficult place. For us to enter there is to be cut deeply
and torn anew, each time we go there, by the jagged edges of our
loss. Yet we return, again and again, for that is where our
children now reside. This will be so for years to come and it will
change us, profoundly. At some point, in the distant future, the
edges of that hole will have tempered and softened, but the empty
space will remain--a life sentence.

Our friends will change through this. There is no avoiding it. We
grieve for our children in part, through talking about them, and our
feelings for having lost them. Some go there with us; others cannot
and, through their denial, add a further measure, however unwitting,
to an already heavy burden.. Assuming that we may be feeling
"better" 6 months later is simply "to not get it". The excruciating
and isolating reality that bereaved parents feel is hermetically
sealed from the nature of any other human experience. Thus it is a
trap--those whose compassion and insight we most need are those for
whom we abhor the experience that would allow them that sensitivity
and capacity. And yet, somehow, there are those, each in their own
fashion, who have found a way to reach us and stay, to our
immeasurable comfort. They have understood, again each in their own
way, that our children remain our children through our memory of
them. Their memory is sustained through speaking about them and our
feelings about their death. Deny this and you deny their life.
Deny their life and you have no place in ours.

We recognize that we have moved to an emotional place where it is
often very difficult to reach us. Our attempts to be normal are
painful, and the day to day carries a silent, screaming anguish that
accompanies us, sometimes from moment to moment. Were we to give it
its own voice, we fear we would become truly unreachable and so we
remain "strong" for a host of reasons even as the strength saps our
energy and drains our will. Were we to act out our true feelings, we
would be impossible to be with. We resent having to act normal, yet
we dare not do otherwise. People who understand this dynamic are
our gold standard. Working our way through this over the years will
change us as does every experience-- and extreme experience changes
one extremely. We know we will have actually managed to survive
when, as we have read, it is no longer so painful to be normal. We
do not know who we will be at that point nor who will still be with

We have read that the gap is so difficult that, often, bereaved
parents must attempt to reach out to friends and relatives or risk
losing them. This is our attempt. For those untarnished by such
events, who wish to know in some way what they, thankfully, do not
know, read this. It may provide a window that is helpful for both
sides of the gap.

1 comment: