By: Morgan McLaverty
Aftershocks: "An aftereffect of a distressing or traumatic event"(Websters Dictionary)
I suppose we were always warned--our journey through grief never ends. We mold ourselves around our losses. We grow, and change, and adapt with this new pain that lives within us. No one ever said that a loss parents life would be easy. But, has anyone warned you of the aftershock?
Years pass and you finally feel as if you've learned what it means to mourn your child; living your life fully while still knowing your family will never truly be complete.
All of the sudden, a disturbance in your carefully orchestrated facade, forces a break in your politely contained grief. A milestone passes, which should have been marked by a celebration, is instead mourned. A slip of the tongue, correcting yourself with how many children you have when asked by a stranger. Realizing how time simply keeps marching forward, forever widening the gap of time since you last felt complete.
My "aftershock" came from a move to another state. A ripple I never expected, as I was delighted to move. I prayed for this move; day drempt about what it meant to move where we could finally afford a proper back yard for my (living) boys. Yet, this move also meant I would be leaving so much of my son, Lennon, behind. This had been the home I held him in. This had been the place I watched him grow. Our current home is the place I saw his sweet face for the last time. The plaque in the angel garden that holds his name will remain here in our stead. A forever reminder that our sweet boy was here; a physical representation of our love. Leaving the place that holds all the memories of a little boy that was so desperately wanted and loved, feels almost wrong. When I started to feel the tears well within me, I felt surprised at first. Wanting something so badly, only to feel the sting of grief surge through me upon realizing that I would, in fact, be leaving a piece of me behind. These feelings felt awkward, confusing and maddening all at once.
So, what's the take away? What's the advice? How will I surmise what it means to see the reach and scope of grief, despite having a life well lived? My only advice to anyone who has lived years beyond the impossible moment of saying goodbye to a child: BREATHE. Breathe and know that there is no emotion you feel while grieving your child that is wrong. Breathe and know that grief is strong, but you are stronger. Breathe and know that the love you carry for your baby is greater still, than any aftershock in your path. I always say, "I would rather feel too much than nothing at all", so I suppose I've got to learn to ride the waves.