Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | March 29, 2016

The Long and Winding Road

I am closing in on ten years from the day that changed me and my life forever. Losing my precious son so early and so unexpectedly, sent me down a road like no other.

I have learned that grief, for me, is far from linear and never ends, but instead continues to challenge, change, pain me, and grow me; and I now know that it is a road without a stop sign. And I have learned that it is a process unique to every individual, but that the common ground of loss is enough to breed compassion, empathy, and an openness to the value of support without judgment.

Over the course of the last ten years I have been down and up and down again. I’ve spent a lot of time resting on plateaus after exhausting rounds of climbing, slipping back down into the valley, climbing again; gaining ground, losing ground, resting on the ground.

Moving through grief can be at turns slow and painful, daunting and even impossible at times; anxious, frustrating, hopeful, stagnant; you name the emotion and someone in the midst of it will nod in understanding.

And yet we manage. We survive. In spite of the pitfalls along the way, we grow. We learn to begin to accept our new world. We begin to turn to others in support. We find ourselves willing to share our hearts and our stories with one another. Sharing, listening, learning together, crying together, and holding each other up is a miraculous balm for the broken hearts of not only the one we do this with, but for ourselves. It is a gift. It is an incredible gift.

I have watched people move through grief and growth faster than me, and they inspire me. I have watched others remain stuck at a painful level for a very long time, and they inspire me to go out of myself for them.

Sometimes I feel good about the fact that I did not dive into a bottle or walk out of my life for too long; managed to step out of myself from time to time for the sake of others, even though I wanted to stay isolated, and managed to grow through this process, in spite of myself. And now can see that growth.

Other times I feel bad for all the time that feels “wasted” – stuck in the valleys, stuck in the pain, stuck in apathy toward my own life, stuck in the unfairness that jabs at my heart even though my head knows that life is not fair, and I wonder if I am truly strong. How does one measure that?

I am still here. I have grown. I haven’t given up, but it feels like it has taken a very long time to get to the place I am now. That said…..I’m far from where I was, and I have a knowing that I’m where I’m supposed to be,  and that’s enough for today.

My biggest epiphany and game changer this year is finally beginning to come to terms with the fact that I am human. I can no more take responsibility for when life events cause things to go awry than I can when life events cause things to go well .

Survivor guilt is a bitch. I can’t find a big enough word to describe how devastating, useless, stagnating, self harming, and harmful to the very fabric of my being mother guilt is. But every mother feels the stab of it to one degree or another, even though she also knows better. Mothers are just humans who have taken on the great responsibility of raising other humans. There are super moms out there, but there are no Supermoms. The role does not come with super powers, and so the expectation that we will not make mistakes with our kids is an unnecessary burden we place upon ourselves, leading to mother guilt. And mother guilt on the road to grief is tough to surmount. It is that part of the road that I am finally traversing with tiny steps toward acceptance. I am finally allowing myself to take care of parts of myself that have been long neglected because (full disclosure) I didn’t think I deserved well-being.  In my mind’s eye I failed at the biggest, most important job I was given. Yeah……mother guilt – the result of unrealistic expectations of myself nearly did me in. But I’m working through it now.

This is where I am nearly a decade later. This is where my journey has led me so far. It is subject to change at any moment. But it is also hopeful and encouraging. I’m still here. I have grown, in spite of myself. I still have a long way to go, and I’m okay with that. Although I still question where I am after so much time, I also understand that this is my path, my pace, my growth, and it can’t be any other way; nor should I expect it to be.

If you have nodded your head either way at any thought here, understood any of my thoughts and feelings, realized that it’s different for you, but that’s okay; thought about your path of grief, the path of another, and come away with any little bit of good, please accept it as a gift from me to you, pay it forward if and when you are ready, or just tuck it into your heart for later.

And please know that although I do not know your grief like my own because even though we may experience similarities in our losses, we remain individuals with individual hearts, stories, and paths, leaving it impossible to know how you feel, but entirely possible to know enough to give another grieving brother or sister support; I give you my support.

And so I’m closing in on ten years without my sweet boy. I’m still here. I’m still on the path. I’m still growing, even when I don’t feel like I am.  If you are reading this post, wherever you may be on the path, you are, too. And that’s enough for today.

Heartfelt thanks to those before me and those who remain beside me. I am so grateful for you. Encouraged by you and your willingness to walk before and with me, I leave this final note of encouragement for others.

 

 

journey of grief

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Responses

  1. Although I have never suffered this kind of loss I am sharing this for those who have. I have a feeling those that read it will surely be comforted and know they are not alone. You are an inspiration to many and brighten many people’s days. ❤

    Like


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