Grief is such an interesting and very personal thing. I had done hospice work and understood grief but the grief of others rather than my own or that of anyone in my family. We have been hit hard these past 3 years with many losses of all ages. The reality of it all has really hit home hard and changed our lives forever and how we live our lives.
Today I asked Richard about school and how he was doing. He said it was ok and I asked him why it was just ok. Before I knew it he came back in the kitchen where Hugh and I were getting dinner together and handed me his black and white notebook for English class. He told us it was a story he wrote but it was truth based fiction. Hugh and I both stood there reading this story he had written. In essence it was a recap of the day George died from his point of view. It is amazing how all of our perspectives are so different but still so much the same. The resonating theme is that it is a day we will never be able to forget full of many bad memories that we have to now learn to live with.
This of course spawned a conversation that I had with Richard about grief and how it was a long journey. I told him that I never wanted to push him into therapy or any sort of thing like that until he was ready and if he wanted to talk to come to me because I am here but grief is personal and does not get better at the same time for everyone. We talked about how in some ways we have had a lot of changes in our relationships but how sometimes it is part of the grief journey for us to travel and that we cannot rush grief either because it could cause more trouble if we do. I told him it is ok to be sad and to miss his little brother. Never should he feel guilty for being sad and having a bad day, week, or month. I did however make mention of bad coping techniques like drugs, alcohol, and suicide.
We discussed how death is scary for some people and for others it is just part of life. I told him how I felt and how I miss George and how I wish I could erase those horrible memories and just remember the good. I told him that loosing someone in the way we lost George can take even longer for someone to get through because it was so traumatic and unexpected. He said that it was very different than it was for him with my grandfather and grandmother since he got to say goodbye and that they were old. Although he came to the hospital he didn't get to say goodbye while George was alive. We also talked about for people who didn't live with George it is very different since they did not see him every day and we did and it was ok to recognize it may be harder for us but to also not discount someone elses grief. It is just different and that is ok.
The two of us talked about our faith and how that plays a part for us. We talked about the new group he is starting tomorrow with kids his own age and he is looking forward to it. He is talking to his guidance counselor at school who happened to have lost his younger brother at almost the same age as Richard. I know that God placed this man in Richard's life right now to help him. Richard has a hard time connecting with others who have not really been through the same thing so for this man to understand first hand, it truly is a blessing. I know Richard did not want to go into individual counseling since he just felt unless the person knew his feelings he would have a hard time with it and he wanted to be with kids his own age instead. Now he can have the best of both worlds...it took a while since the group program was on hold for the summer and we had to wait for this one to start.
Our family is doing well all things considered. You can't rush grief and for us it will be a lifelong process where the pain will always remain but we can learn to live this new life we have been given. I think that is what takes the longest in all of it. You can't just forget the person and yet have to find a way to live with their memory in your life rather than the person themselves. With the holidays coming up we are trying to figure out how to handle them without George here. For the past 3 years this entire season has been just torturous with my grandparents in 08, Hugh's dad in 09, and George this year. It has made us take a look at each holiday and see what we like and don't like and how do we turn it into something good rather than bad. It is going to be tough and it is ok with we change what we typically did to make living with George's memory a little easier for all of us.
I've come to the conclusion that from Sept on each year we will all have really bad moments. It isn't that we won't have them throughout the year but I have found them to be exacerbated to a greater extent since George's birthday, the holidays coming, and then his death date right in toe. THe thought of that is so very overwhelming and brings tears to my eyes. I can't fix this for myself let alone my children and family. We all have to carry this sadness for the rest of our lives and it saddens me to just know that my son has this bad memory and now has to find a way to live with it and I can't fix it. Hugh had a rough night tonight and we have all just had a rough patch as a family and individuals since George's birthday. I miss him so very much and can't even explain it to anyone.
Looking at where we were the day he died until now, I think all of us have made huge strides but still have a very long way to go. In some ways we are very far and others we are still far behind. I explained the need to give yourself slack and not blame yourself for the things that transpired. As I said these words I also explained where my guilt was in all of it and my own personal regrets about it all and told Richard it was normal but if we let it rule our lives it will eventually consume us and that is not a good thing. We of course hugged and cried together but it was a moment we all needed and I am sure we will have more of as we walk this path. Grief is so different yet so similar for us all, I am just glad that I recognize the need for time and understanding because I cannot imagine those who don't and how they are coping with things. We are truly blessed to have one another and be able to keep open lines of communication. It will get us all so much further and I thank God for it.
George's Guardian's of Grace Projects
Stocking project is now in full force collecting donations. We have a list of the items we can use. You can also choose to sponsor a stocking in memory or honor of someone else. We will include a paragraph or two in the cards we place in the stockings to let the recipient know about the person that means so much to you. Our paypal account is posted on this page and ready to take donations. Email us for a list of items needed or with any questions or information you would like included on a sponsored stocking/donation.
Video Tributes/Celebration of Life Footage
Here is a link to a video tribute that was made by Richard's dad in memory of George. Get out your tissues!
We Finally have footage from the service up and running:
It is in 4 sections running about 17 mins each. If you were unable to attend, you can now see what you missed. We were so blessed to have everyone there with us in person and in spirit!