Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 19 - Honesty

Honesty is a pretty important thing for most people...I mean how can you trust someone if they aren't honest.  How can you feel good about yourself if you aren't an honest person?
But today that is not the type of honesty I want to focus on.  Today I want to focus on what a gift honesty can be, more specifically, what a gift being honest with someone can be.
About three years ago I received a message from a relative of mine.  Initially I read it and thought 'wow, it is so sweet that she is so concerned about me' but then I turned to feelings of anger...'what right does she have to tell me how to grief, she doesn't get it and hopefully never will'.  And in yet another breath I found myself saying 'this is exactly what I needed to hear'.  A pretty confusing time indeed!
You see this cousin of mine was sharing from her heart about what her journey in grief had been but instead of it being one of sympathy of sorts for me it was one of caution. She opened up and shared some of her deepest feelings on what it was like to be on a different side of loss then I was on and how hard that was on her.....

Waiting for the right time
Hi Jodie,
Each time I read one of your posts, I feel the pain and sorrow that you are experiencing. It is very difficult to join in with the rest of the world when grief has you paralyzed. You have a few more firsts to get through to get to the finish of this first year. As you watch your other son grow, you will continue to feel these moments of sadness.
Today I will speak as the sibling, not a mom. Our journey without my sister has left us with just the shell of who my parents were. I deeply miss them and the traditions that we had prior to her death. Sometimes it is difficult to watch as my parents remain paralyzed by their grief, forgetting that we are with them now-we need them to be present for us. Remember this for your sons. Living in the shadow of dead sibling can take its toll. I have started to take my own sad moments and change them to joy. On her birthday I get a cake and celebrate with my family. Her death day has always been extremely difficult, but my daughter and husband both have birthdays at that time of year, so I feel I have to go through the motions. This past year we had fireworks, which is something my family did yearly up until my sister died. I can't explain the joy it gave me to do something I knew she loved. I never knew what to do with my sorrrow, but it definitely feels better to me now to live as she would have wanted. You may have to reinvent traditions and ways to celebrate your son, but remember there are three other little boys that need their mommy. I would guess that your husband needs you too.
Take care this Christmas, it will probably require a lot of tears, but I hope that you find a moment to smile, laugh and feel joy too.

Wow.... even reading that now brings back a mix of emotions.  It is so hard for those who haven't lost a child to even begin to imagine how it feels. But many of us who lost a child can not relate to losing a sibling in childhood so we can not possibly imagine what it is like to be the sibling left behind.  I had really not given anyone else much thought in my grief process... being selfish is part of grieving too I guess.  Until my cousin sent this I had never thought what it must be like to be my boys and see me cry and hear me talk about Cole a lot.  I would never, ever, hide my grief from them and don't agree with anyone who does but that is because that is what works for me.  But griefing a loss is much different then letting it consume you, changing all your family traditions and showing everyone the hole that is left in your family. Our living children need to remember their sibling with love and affection and not feel like they are living in their shadow. 
I just had this very discussion with some moms in one of the support groups I run on facebook.  Many of them are having their first or second Christmas without one of their twins and they are really struggling.  They don't want to celebrate, many are either just going through the motions or haven't even bothered with that... they aren't doing much at all and have decided not to attend this or do this tradition because all they can picture is what should have been...all they can picture is the two babies/toddlers that should be on Santa's knee or unwrapping presents.  I get that, I have been there and it really sucks.  But the problem with dealing with it that way is that you end up causing exactly what my cousin talks about above to those around you, especially the children in your life. 
I tried to change after this message was sent and did ok at times and horrible at others.  All in all, 3 years later, I would say I am doing pretty good in following her advice.  She still checks in on me and makes comments to remind me of the joy that is always in my life.  And while I appreciate her honesty I will be honest back and say 'please understand that I am just having a day of it... and please let me have that day'... it's okay as long as that day doesn't become endless. 

And so today I just want to say thanks to her and to others for their honesty about my grieving and it's effects on those around me.  I do appreciate it, even when I don't agree or when I know that they are only seeing the bad day out 30 good ones or more.  The gift of honesty is one of the best things you can give someone who is helps them to know that you care while validating their loss by the simple recognition of changes they see and the worries they have. 


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