I was asked to write a blog post for our local TransitionsLife Care. I was asked to write some words of hope or help for newly bereaved mothers. I passed the deadline because sometimes it is hard to come up with hopeful and helpful. After much thought, I came up with the following.
For too many years I felt like I was full of shards of broken glass. I begged counselors to make it better, but in the moment it felt like nothing brought relief from the pain. Looking back, their magic was their ability to listen to me over and over and over.
It has been 18 years now since my 18-year-old daughter Rebecca died from complications following mononucleosis, and that glass has ever so gradually become more like battered sea glass. Even though the edges have been smoothed and the shapes are irregular, it can still cause a lot of pain if that glass clumps together the wrong way. It takes me by surprise now, but I have learned coping skills that work for me and the periods of despair are short lived. I never thought I could come to this place. It was such a slow process.
Four years after my Rebecca died, I attended a writing workshop for bereaved mothers. I actually was reluctant to attend because I knew it would be hard and quite honestly I did not really want to be associated with “those people”…but then everything was hard, so why not? I still was often close to tears and avoided any deep talk about my daughter. But with writing I was able to express myself. And once I had gone through the process of writing with the group, I was often able to share with others by reading what I wrote.
After that first workshop, some of the women suggested meeting again. We have been meeting two weekends a year for 13 years now. For me, writing and this group of 13 women have been my salvation. I must admit, I write more when I am with a group and am sort of forced to sit and given a time frame—20 minutes. I feel it is a more protected environment than when I write when I am home alone—although I have done plenty of that as well. As the years pass, being around other bereaved mothers is a most comfortable place to be.
The following is a poem I wrote with my group. It is called an acrostic poem, using the letters from the words NEVER AND FOREVER as the first letter of each line of the poem.
NEVER AND FOREVER
Never would I have thought
Everything could change
Virtually in the blink of an eye
Exploding in the midst of my hopes, faith, innocence
All of us think this could
Never happen to us
Doesn’t love and nurturing prevail,
Free us from tragedies
Other people suffer and that we
Read about in the newspaper
Empathizing, sympathizing, horrifying?
Verifying–NEVER us, but
Everything changed forever.
I have been a volunteer in the children’s bereavement program since 2006 as well a puppeteer for the Aarvy Aardvark Finds Hope program for 3rd grade students in Wake County schools. I NEVER would have thought those things to be possible.
See also Inside Out, 1998.