They say your heart beats forever outside your body when you have children…. That is wrong. Your heart is healthy inside your chest protected by the rib cage from damage. When a parent looses a child…. That is when your heart is still beating but on the outside. Exposed, unprotected, from all the elements and chaos that is in this world.
The idea to write a blog about grieving mothers started formulating in my head months ago, but…. There are so many other hurting moms like me…. That are part of this club that none of us opted to be in, yet is such a healing blessing for many of us. What could I write about. What did I have to add to the conversation that someone hasn’t already said? Also, because it is such a core experience, was I willing to go there and say out loud what mothers go through? The answer at first was a hard no. As transparent as I choose to be, there are somethings…intimate thoughts, feelings that are just for me…. Some I choose to share in my family but most I keep for myself.
Most of my thoughts I keep to myself. Why is that. There are a few reasons why as women we feel that we can not share what is is going on inside of us. First, quite often we don’t even realize what is happening internally with us. All we know is that something is not right and we quite often become recluse. Non communicative. We come across as angry, and have less patience. We are often at these times completely devoid of any energy and we just want to shut ourselves in, to see and talk to no one. We don’t want to explain why or how things could be made better or what we need help with, because quite often we are so disconnected from ourselves in those moments that we honestly don’t know. It’s not until weeks, days or sometimes hours later that we are able to look back and think “aaaah. That was what the problem was”. I remember the first “public” appointment I had once I was released from the hospital. I had just met my Physio therapist that would be responsible for my care for the next few years. I was handed many papers to fill out after the appointment. On those papers not only did they want to know my benefit information, but they also wanted to know who else was listed on this plan. Michael, Mikaela, Summer, River…. …. It was the first time that I was asked for family information and Marley could not be written down because on paper…. She didn’t exist. Not only did I HAVE to fill this out, but I had to fill it out in TRIPLICATE because for whatever reason these papers all had to be originals. My world began to spin, the loneliness, anger, sadness all came crashing down on me. My breath got faster, my heart felt like it would break open with how fast it was beating. My face got hot, tears threatened to stream out, instant sweat and all I could think about was getting out of there. I believe I tossed the rest of the papers at my sister and quickly, but slowly and painfully I left the office. I couldn’t articulate at the time what was going on, what I was thinking. All I knew is that one visual and one action that I was being asked to do on a repeated basis had me unglued. It wasn’t until days later that I was able to articulate what was going on in those moments.
Another reason why we would not share what is going on with immediate family is the overwhelming responsibility as a woman that we have towards our family. My sweet Summer and River had lost their sister and their mother as they knew her. They had lost their step dad [Marleys dad], in an instant they had even lost their home because they remained living with their dad immediately after the accident. It was not a choice for them. They were guests in their mothers home. A choice was never given to them. They themselves have their own grief and their own story. As their mother it is my responsibility to protect them, comfort them. Not add to it. After my accident I could not be there. I could not cuddle up beside them and comfort them, I was not the one who told them what had happened. I was not the one that they fell apart with when they heard the news. Now, in my mind there is no way that I will ever allow that to happen again if I can help it. They call I am there. No questions asked. I will not miss one more single moment to support them, and I will not be a reason why they need support.
Then there is Marley’s dad. A man whom I loved and still love so very much. I can’t even begin to imagine remotely close to what he first experienced when he got a call from a strangers phone, where the stranger I can only assume explained briefly what had just happened and that his wife was pleading to call him. I can’t imagine what it was like to hear your wife ask if the day was Saturday, and if I was coming up to see him. He answered both with “yes hunny”, “yes you were sweetheart”. I can’t even fathom how he processed or what went through him when he heard me say “I can’t hear Marley, I don’t know how she is, I can’t hear Marley”. I don’t know how he waited, waiting for news, updates.... Hours later decided he could wait no more and begged a friend to drive him to Edmonton 4.5 hours away. I don’t know how he could have choked out the words to call family members and let them know that there had been an accident. I would have been in pieces, I would not have been able to find that strength inside not knowing if your wife, and your little girl were alive, and if we were going to make it. The trauma he must have endured from getting the news that his daughter had died when arriving at the scene of impact and to learn Marley was sent in one direction while his wife was critical and sent in the opposite direction…. How he ever made that decision of where to go I will never understand. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to walk into our home that used to be filled with little giggles and an excited daddies girl knowing that she will be forever gone. To finally lay down in our marital bed with no wife beside you to cry together, to hold one another and find comfort in each others arms. To not know if she will survive. To know that just across the hall is a bedroom that will be forever empty. Just like I wasn’t there for my children, I could not be there for Marley’s dad and for all of those reasons, it has not and I believe never will be easy for me to express times of deep grief. He has so much of his own grief and trauma and I never want to be the reason he feels more. As women we typically hold the keys to the heart of the home, and in these catastrophic moments I could not be responsible for those keys and my family fell apart. Never to be whole again.
Injuries heal…. Trauma can heal if given the right tools, but when a mother looses a child…. As a visual imagine; Your little person that you created standing on one side of a solid veil. Behind this veil they are watching you…. You know they are and sometimes you can feel them, but there in their little hands is your beating heart… And there, standing on the other side of the veil is you. You’re dressed in white with a gapping hole right through your chest dripping red with blood while you are on your knees reaching out for your person…. Never to be intact again… Until you cease to breathe...... When the grief gets real and birthdays, celebrations, certain songs, words you read, movies you watch appear, it can be for a split second, but those brief seconds are what pulls you into that visualization. Into that feeling and sometimes its quick and other times…. Not so much.
Now, using all of my knowledge from my previous career and adding in health and life coaching and my personal experience, I can effectively say that women are a force to be reckoned with. We rise for our childr en, we rise for our loved ones. We rise for the life that we know we want to have in the future. The best way to support a grieving mother, is not doing things for her when she falls down, but instead come along side her and ask “what do you need?” Be prepared to have silence as your response for a little while. Stand ready, to propel her forward with the strength she has inside, with you walking and even running beside her so she can reach the greatness she knows resides in herself to unleash on the world.