This article was originally published on Open to Hope, a website whose mission is to help those who have suffered a loss to cope with their pain and invest in the future.
To most folks, Aug. 6, 2005, was an ordinary day, but for me it became the worst day in my life. I woke up that morning expecting to celebrate my birthday; instead, I learned of my youngest son’s death. Despite the fact that I had many loving family members and friends, I found myself feeling isolated and numb. It took so much of my energy just to make it through each day that I had nothing left for anything else.
I drifted through my days in a fog of pain over Clint’s death. There were moments that I was sure I would never find my way back. But earlier this year, I began to feel the dark clouds part. I even dared to anticipate the warm rays of hope again. The tension was leaving my body; my strength was growing and my mind was clearing. The smiles I had faked for four years were beginning to feel real again.
Just as I was beginning to think about my new normal, I was hit hard by the reality of the outside world. First, Clint’s cat became sick and died. My neighbor’s kids accidentally caught my back yard on fire. Then I had a couple of minor medical issues. The last straw was multiple problems with the house. There was a major plumbing problem in the bathroom, a foundation situation and then a water leak in the kitchen.
All of this left me longing to run back into my world of fog and numbness. I suppose I was experiencing the beginnings of self-pity. The realization of my journey came to me; I had reached a crossroad in my grief. I knew that somehow I had to find a way to continue forward.
Inside, I wrestled with the feeling of unfairness. A large part of me wanted to run and hide. It did not seem right to lose a child and then be expected to deal with everyday problems. I did not want to handle the ordinary things of life, but I knew the truth was that it was time for me to acquaint myself with the real world again. I knew I could handle this transition the same way I handled my grief – one step at a time.