Life After Loss (Guest Post)

The emerging blogger series on Mental Health @ Home -background image of cherry blossoms

In this emerging blogger post, Kim of Broken Hearted Grace writes about life after the loss of her son.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

People often ask how I do it, how do I cope after losing my oldest son at age 34?  How do I go on while dealing with my second born son being addicted to drugs for more than half of his life?  At first, after losing my boy, it was a simple matter of simply putting one foot in front of the other because I had no choice.  Through the fog of grief and horror and sadness, I went on.  I breathed.  There are many people in my life who hold me up and help me, including my sweet husband, who through his humor and good nature, allows me to find a balance. I also have the blessing of my two step children and grandchildren, who bring light and sweetness into my life.

As time went on, I began to write down my thoughts and grief as a cathartic exercise.  This writing down has become a blog about my two sons.  The act of putting pen to paper allows me to relieve the pressure and heaviness of memories, and also to highlight those memories.  Losing a child is truly a grief that will never end.  I relish hearing people tell stories about my son, the funny and the profound, and listen raptly as the echoes of his influence ripple on.  Jon was a Type 1 Diabetic Ultra Runner.  He ran incredible distances to show what can be accomplished by someone with diabetes.  He was also infinitely kind and humble.  Writing about him keeps his goodness clear and central.

I have also writing about parenting a child struggling with addiction because that carries it’s own weight.  I have struggled with guilt and loss, because Ben has such tremendous potential as a human and he has so seemingly willingly tossed his life away and given everything to continue his drug-fueled life.  He has been through countless rehabilitation centers and incarcerations.  He is the king of second changes.  Through it all, I have prayed for him and loved him and tried very hard to not enable him.

I am centered by a daily practice of arising early and meditating and praying.  This habit has helped start my day by focusing properly on my inner world and soul and my God. I have a sense of peace through this practice. I believe.  The positivity of this belief is primary, and my day and life flow from this belief.  It frames everything in Goodness.

My husband and I have a two year old Golden Retriever.  We take him to various parks every morning after breakfast.  Being in nature and moving through it, simply moving every day, is also healing.  Because of our dog, we must do this, and the requirement of having to get out there and take him for his walk, and the days that we can not feel as though something is missing.  Being outside is fundamental.  Moving is essential.  Both help my mood and spirit.  We change our walk several times a day.  Usually we walk from our house to the closest park, but we also drive to several different parks so that the experience does not get stale.

Friendship is also central.  Doing things with girlfriends – neighbors, old friends and friends I have met through my church, Getting together with people for lunch, for a glass of wine, or to go to a movie is an element of life that also helps mood.

I try not to dwell on my sadness, but when tears come, I let them flow.  I have found that ruminating endlessly can push people away.  I had that clear illumination years ago when I was a newly divorced parent.  I had to force myself to back off from bitterness and resentment when I realized that others were backing off from me.  I made a concerted effort to smile and to not talk about myself and my own problems.  By doing so, friends and acquaintances remained as allies.  I realized that circling the drain in an endless tragic loop of emotion perpetuated itself. I made myself pretend to be happier, and slowly happiness came through habit.

Forming positive habits is key for me to have been able to continue.  Grief and sorrow are always there, the pieces of my life where my memories live.  I continue, broken but breathing.

You can find Kim on her blog Broken Hearted Grace.

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