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Grief following the death of a loved one isn’t a mental illness that requires the help of psychiatrists and antidepressants, according to editors of The Lancet, who oppose “medicalizing” an often healing response to overwhelming loss…
“Grief is not an illness; it is more usefully thought of as part of being human and a normal response to the death of a loved one.” … for the majority of the bereaved, “doctors would do better to offer time, compassion, remembrance and empathy, than pills.”
No words I write can ever say
How much I miss you every day.
As time goes by, the loneliness grows;
How I miss you, nobody knows!
I think of you in silence,
I often speak your name,
But all I have are memories
And photos in a frame.
No one knows my sorrow,
No one sees me weep,
But the love I have for you
Is in my heart to keep.
I’ve never stopped loving you–
I’m sure I never will;
Deep inside my heart,
You are with me still.
Heartaches in this world are many
But mine is worse than any.
My heart still aches as I whisper low,
“I need you and I miss you so.”
The things we feel so deeply
Are often the hardest to say,
But I just can’t keep quiet any more,
So I’ll tell you anyway.
There is a place in my heart
That no one else can fill;
I love you so, my precious son,
And I always will.
~ Author Unknown
The mention of my child’s name
May bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring
Music to my ears.
If you are really my friend,
Let me hear the beautiful music of her name.
It soothes my broken heart
And sings to my soul.
~ Author Unknown
The one that died, you know.
Don’t worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn’t show.
Don’t worry about making me cry.
I’m already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
The tears that I try to hide.
I’m hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending she didn’t exist.
I’d rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she has been missed.
You asked me how I was doing.
I say “pretty good” or “fine”
But healing is something ongoing,
I feel it will take a lifetime.
~ Elizabeth Dent
It seems so stupid to say Kaddish for a little boy.
Kaddish is a prayer of respect for the dead – for a dead parent usually,
Or an uncle or an aunt or a grandparent
Or maybe even for an older brother or sister.
But for an 8-year-old boy?
Who now has been dead for 22 years . . .
It just doesn’t fit.
I am sitting in front of a
Roaring fire in our living room.
When he died, we kept a fire burning
During the several days before
His funeral, and for
Many, many days after
He was buried.
Tending a fire gives me an
Activity, a distraction for the moment.
The hissing flames cry out
The pain that is still in me
Twenty-two years later.
I’m not sure why
I am so sad and listless
Last year I almost didn’t remember it was November 23rd again.
I find myself irritable
And very sad at odd times throughout the day.
This year I just want to sit and tend to the fire,
And not say Kaddish
Or light a memorial candle.
It feels stupid to say
Kaddish for a little boy.
He should be saying it
~ J. Shep Jeffreys
“The Kaddish is a prayer that praises God and expresses a yearning for the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. The emotional reactions inspired by the Kaddish come from the circumstances in which it is said: it is recited at funerals and by mourners, and sons are required to say Kaddish for eleven months after the death of a parent… The Mourner’s Kaddish is recited for eleven months from the day of the death and also on the yahrzeit (anniversary of a death).” – http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/kaddish.html
The first time it’s asked after your child dies, can leave you floundering for an answer. An easy answer may be to say ‘no’ or only count your living children. This question is normally asked to share some personal information, but when it’s asked of a grieving parent this information becomes more intimate and more emotional.
I’ve spent a lot of time, probably too much time, worrying about making other people feel bad when they naively ask if I have children. A simple ‘no’ and the conversation moves on. I’ve avoided them wishing they hadn’t asked. It’s difficult not to think this way, but doing this leaves a horrible heaviness in my heart. Regardless of who I’m talking to, I’ve denied the existence of my daughter.
I mentioned in a previous post about recently actually giving an honest answer for the first time to a group of new students. Normally if students ask me if I have any children I say ‘no’ and quickly move the subject on, while telling myself it’s not important that they know and trying to ignore the guilty feeling of not acknowledging Sofia. However, this time I told them simply that I did but she died. An inevitable awkward moment of silence followed, but the overwhelming feeling I had was a sense of lightness that I’d given an honest answer. And a couple of students gave very sincere responses which felt good to receive.
I don’t know if responding to this question will ever get easier, but now when someone asks me I remember how it felt to answer honestly.