by Tamara Harvey Braswell
I will never forget the date, 5:30 a.m., July 22, 2016. My 19-year-old son Logan was pronounced dead in a Virginia hospital. Every bone in his body broken, bleeding from the inside out. His eyes black, his head swollen, his blonde hair blood stained from fatal injuries that literally crushed him when he took the street curve too fast and slammed his truck head on into a tree less than a half mile from our home.
I would never again hear him say, “I love you mom,” or feel that rush of excitement waiting to greet him at the airport when he returned home for Christmas break.
This year marks my second Christmas without Logan, my only child. Once a Christmas spirit freak who loved lights and decorations, I am no longer interested. The sound of Christmas music makes me cringe. I avoid the big box stores with rows of plastic trees and shelves lined with Christmas junk.
I want to bypass the holiday altogether and fast forward to the business of January.
I spent my first childless Christmas in Florida. I had to be in a completely different place that felt like summer and not winter.
It helped until the Christmas potluck dinner, held outside under the palm trees. I placed a picture of Logan on a table, hoping others would remember him and ask me how I was doing. After all, it was my first Christmas without Logan.
No one commented about his picture. No one remembered him at dinner. That hurt deeply, as if Logan never existed. I wanted to scream, “Wake up people, you’ll eventually be dead and forgotten too at Christmas dinner…now how does that feel!”
I am bracing for for my second Christmas after Logan died. I am still a beginner in dealing with holidays and the loss of a child. It will never get easier, but friends and family should not be afraid to show they care.
For those of you who don’t know what to say or how to act around a bereaved parent during the holidays, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Show you care. Don’t be afraid to ask me about my child. Sure, I may tear up and the conversation may make you feel uncomfortable, but l like to talk about my son just as you like to talk about your loved ones.
- Please stop saying, “I can’t imagine,” or “I don’t think I could survive my child’s death.” Truth is you can imagine. And you would find a way to survive. You are not any stronger or resilient than I am. The shit storm hit me and I hope you never have to experience this. I do what I have to do to keep on living.
- If you knew my son, don’t let his memory fade. Talk about him, share a story about what he meant to you or some crazy thing he did. Those stories are precious gifts to me.
- If I tell you I lost my son and you didn’t know him, don’t go off in la-la land talking about some insignificant bull-shit. Say your sorry with a little meaning and then we can delve into mindless chatter.
- Know this time of year is very painful for bereaved parents. The grief doesn’t fade, we don’t move on. We bear the pain. We carry the grief because that is the only thing left of our child.
- Please stops saying God heals all pain. This is a pain that doesn’t heal. It becomes a part of you. God is there to help you through it.
- Some folks say – Logan is in a better place. He is with God. I know he is, but Logan belongs here with me and his family at Christmas.
As I get ready to mark Christmas number 2, I will not be silent about my grief, my son and my love for him.