This past week I had the pleasure of attending a six day training ON Mission Bay in San Diego. Our workshop room overlooked the bay, which made the hours of training more pleasant. The training was on a mind/ body therapy called Somatic Experiencing. At one point, I was the client working on a grief theme. The person asked me if I’d said good-bye to my son. I’m quite confident she meant in the hospital, at his birth (in the moment I made a choice not to answer because it didn’t settle in me as needing to answer it so I’m making an assumption). What emerged from my non-answer, was I never will say good-bye completely. For as long as I live, he’s with me. There was a moment at his birth where I’d held his lifeless body, kissed him, drank every part of him that was available but I know now that there will never be a landmark good-bye. And it’s interesting to me because as I said good-bye my deepest fear was that he would be forgotten somehow, or maybe even that he would be lessened. I know now that neither fears are true for me. I believe a parent who has lost a child, no matter what the age or stage of development never says good-bye. My son’s essence still lives within my body and while I have only memories of him inside of me, those memories are no less real than that of a parent who loses a child at a later age. We both get “triggered” for memories, some of them good and others terribly painful. Both types usually lead to tears, at least for me. So whether it be at places where parents were together with their children or in mothers whose babies weren’t born alive encountering pregnant women or meeting children who would be the present age of their lost child, or the millions of other moments that bring the lost one into the present, they live on in the present, albeit differently. I don’t mention this to say that one shouldn’t be deeply grieved when death comes too early. That gut-punching grief is so appropriate and hits me sometimes, even as our seventh year anniversary approaches.
However, I’ve found something that is present along with that gut- punch and that is company and redemption. There is something deeply comforting to me that I’ve said no permanent good-byes to my son. In some way, it leaves open the possibility that the tragedy I’ve lived through has hope and ongoing life even if death occurred. I suppose it even leaves me with a feeling that the connections I’ve made here on Earth, live on, even when I don’t.
Blessed Memorial Day. May you deeply experience a connection with a loved one who’s died living on in you.