Sometimes when I meet other moms or dads who’ve lost a child to suicide or drug-related death, they feel as if they are not doing enough for the cause.
Compared to me usually.
So there are some things I want to point out.
For one thing, we have enough to beat ourselves up about with a child’s death, I don’t think that you need to add ‘giving yourself a hard time that you are not doing enough’ to that mix. But in case you still feel that way, like somehow you don’t measure up to Jane Doe or John Doe, just realize that people work through grief in different ways.
It’s not a one size fits all journey.
I want to point out that I have been using all of you to work through my pain. There were times I felt really guilty about it. But never guilty enough to stop. I also didn’t start off with some altruistic sense of where I was taking this site. I just hurt like hell and I started writing, sometimes twice a day at first.
I realized the “giving back” part a month or so into it and that, too, became part of my coping strategy. Giving back is how I heal emotionally. I need it and crave it and it’s the only way I can move forward. I’m also doing that very publicly which doesn’t mean others are not doing things. They are, they’re simply not advertising it.
I know people here who are going to jails , starting support groups, and others have decided to focus on something their child loved like helping at an animal shelter.
Still others have their own issues that need their attention: Other children, balancing a demanding job they need to keep, caring for a spouse, aging parent or disabled child. Those of you who suffer mental illness or are in recovery from substance use disorder have to focus on maintaining stability. That alone is a full time job.
After the death of a child, it’s everything some parents can do to keep from killing themselves. One friend told me she struggled with her depression after her son’s suicide and told me she lived through those first years because she “felt obligated to live.” That took everything she had.
And about that public speaking.
Charles loved the stage and it loved him. So when I’m on stage I feel his presence. I give a lot of presentations because I am hooked to that feeling of being close to my deceased child. Before Charles died, I’d also been a public speaker for years. I just switched topics.
Never underestimate your comments and sharing. That’s helped this site reach so many people and saved lives. I know how much your comments help because I see in the statistics how much time people spend reading them. And when I’ve needed a favor, you delivered with no strings attached.
Let’s face it, a lot of people would find what I do more emotionally draining than emotionally healing. How people deal with grief is different.
Some want to pray alone, meditate and look at pictures. Others want to talk about it and make videos. Some want a house full of people and still others want more privacy.
What it comes down to is that you need to do what works for you without comparing yourself with others or worry that you have been slower to heal. Because it takes as long as it takes.