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A Mother’s Grief

May 10, 2012
By Guest Blogger
|17Comments|


Grieving is a personal experience. Depending on who you are and the nature of your loss, your process of grieving will be different from another person’s. There is no “normal and expected” period of time for grieving. Some people take a year or more, particularly when their daily life has been radically changed by traumatic and unexpected loss.

On May 10, 2011, I lost my remarkable son Anthony to a tragic accident. He was 23 years old. I am writing this only two months after this horrifying experience.

Words cannot describe the immense pain felt by a parent who loses a child. As a bereaved parent, you realize that your life will never be the same … never. Your life has suddenly taken an unexpected course that appears and feels unknown, unsure and endless; that is called grief.

There are some wonderful support groups for parents. I attended my first one just three weeks after Anthony’s death. It’s called Compassionate Friends. The people here are experiencing the same type of pain that I am, although our journeys are different.

I realize that my tears are a way to be gentle and loving to myself and they should be honored as precious tender drops of love and remembrance of my son Anthony. Really feeling all this pain is the first step in the grieving process and my way through the first 12 months. Until the pain is felt deeply, with every moment and the loss is truly acknowledged, it is not possible to move on to celebrating the life of your loved one. So with that being expressed, I let the tears come.

The grieving process gives us time to reflect and find new strength that enables us to continue life’s journey and regain some peace of mind. I have recognized that grieving and its stresses seem tolerable, with loving self-care habits. It helps to have a close circle of loving family and friends. It also helps to have proper nourishment for your body — a nutritious, balanced diet with plenty of raw vegetables, plenty of nourishing water and non-alcoholic fluids, exercise or some type of movement for the body and plenty of rest. I’ve learned to not say I can’t do something because of this traumatic, awful life experience … this is not easy, but it is a necessity.

Most people are unprepared for grief because so often, tragedy strikes suddenly, without warning. If excellent loving self-care habits are part of your life, it will help you deal with the pain and shock of loss until the last stage of grief, which is acceptance, is reached. I am walking the path on this journey and not sure where it will take me, but one thing that is clear in my mind is that loving others and myself is the only path I can walk down, knowing I am not alone.

Some supportive suggestions and thoughts

Birthdays

Birthdays are a celebration of the day your child became a precious gift to the world. My son’s birthday, June 16, was five weeks after his death. My family and I did several things to honor him and help our healing.

1. Light a candle: A mother’s bond of love with her child can never be broken. Lighting a candle on my son’s birthday was very healing. I used a battery-operated candle to illuminate the entire day.

2. Attend a religious service on your child’s birthday: We did this, and it was also very healing.

3. Celebrate: My daughter Sarah and I recently set aside special time on Anthony’s birthday. We got on the Internet/webcam and made his favorite dessert together. My parents and sister’s family (both out of state) had a special dinner together with a birthday cake for Anthony.

Mother’s Day

Traditionally a day of celebration, Mother’s Day can be a day of pain and loss for mothers who have lost a child. Below are some tips for remembering those moms who have had an unsuccessful pregnancy or have lost a child of any age.

1. Acknowledge that she is a mother: Offer a hug and kiss, and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Send a card to let her know you remember she’s a mother, even though her child is not physically with her. A mother’s bond of love with her child can never be broken.

2. Acknowledge her loss: Express/connect and share the message, “I know this is difficult day for you. I want you to know that I am thinking about you.”

3. Use her child’s name in conversation: When family and friends talk about my son, Anthony, it’s like music to my ears. I love talking, listening and sharing special moments with others.

4. Plant a living memorial: A perennial flower, tree or rose bush — like memories — will grow in beauty.

5. Light a candle: Let the mother know you will light a candle in memory of her child.

6. Share a memory or pictures of the child: Give the gift of a memory. One mother wrote that the “greatest gift you can give is a heartfelt letter about my child and a favorite memory of them.”

7. Don’t try to minimize the loss: Avoid using any clichés that attempt to explain the death of a child.

8. Encourage self-care: Self-care is an important aspect of the effort to heal the mind and spirit. Encourage a grieving mother to take care of herself. Give her a gift certificate to a day spa or any place where she can be pampered. Right after Anthony’s death, it took all my energy simply to shower and put on mascara.

While the above suggestions are intended for Mother’s Day, they can be helpful for grieving mothers any day of the year.

My love goes out to all women who experience this pain. We are connected, and we are loved.

Robin Legittino is a certified holistic nutritional consultant and NASM-certified personal trainer. She served in the United States Marine Corps and is the mother of two children and the grandmother of one.

 



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17 responses to A Mother’s Grief
  1. K said on May 10, 2012

    Thank you! Please know you are loved and prayed for. Im sure your service to our country helps you stay strong as well. How great that you say crying is ok. Thank you again.

  2. Robin, your thoughts were so well expressed. I often (as a professor of grief at a university), try to explain the importance of understanding your grief and learning to live with this new “companion”. You shared what is so important for all of us to know — . Thank you, thank you.

  3. AB said on May 10, 2012

    A dear freind lost her 16 year old son 19 months ago. It’s still jolting to realize that sweet boy is not alive. I wathced her crumble in grief and slowly build herself up again. She is not the same, but she has joy in her life again. She and her family are making meaning of their painful journey. Love to you and others on that journey.

  4. Bree said on May 10, 2012

    Robin:
    Although it is so much different than losing a child, my husband recently lost his Father and I am going to share your wonderful words with him so that maybe they can help him through his grieving process. Thank you for sharing your story and your experiences. They are words to LIVE by!

  5. Thank you for this. As my 5-year-old daughter is battling cancer, we are seeing friends of hers from the hospital dying around us. It is impossible to understand. I’ve also lost my mother and my best friend. No one can walk through the fire for you, and the pain never truly goes away. You have longer periods that are pain-free, but, as I like to say, it sucks. And it sucks for a lot longer than people might imagine. Thank you for sharing your story, and helping others through the eyes of your grief.

  6. Thank you

  7. You may not have had him for enough years, but I’ll bet he knew how much you loved him. The picture alone says as much. Bless you.

  8. what beautiful words… i will share your wisdom with others who i know need it. sending you positive thoughts on your difficult journey….

  9. Robin, You are an amazing person. Thank you for all you have done and for sharing your story.

  10. Robin, You are an amazing person. Thank you for all you have done and for sharing your story.

  11. my heart & prayers go out to you. it takes a very strong woman to step forward & openly share a painful & life-altering experience, such as yours. see, i don’t want to use the word “loss” (that’s why i said experience) because my personal belief is that your loved ones (whether you can see them or not) are still with you & sometimes you may even feel that calming presence. this may all sound insane too, i understand that. however, one doesn’t experience grief unless there was love present first. so, as you heal and come to terms with the schock factor, that i think inevitably preceeds all other reactions to a loved ones death, give yourself credit for the love you have for your son, that you so openly share. there are individuals who may never feel that love from a parent. it puts a huge smile on my face to know that your son is not one of those individuals. your love resonates through your story, but so does your strength. the longer one waits to find support, the worse one’s life can get because grief will wreak havoc, especially when never dealt with. i wish i could give you a hug to let you know how amazing it is that you immediately did all the right things to help w/your grief. finding a support group is fantastic, i’m glad there’s 1 close to you. god bless.

  12. The emotional and soul pain following the death of a child is
    probably the most intense anyone will ever experience. The soul wrenching
    questions that many bereaved parents (Me included) have been plagued with and
    must find answers to. – There is no doubt that a tragedy such as yours
    challenges long-held beliefs. After the death of my son I had to “smash the
    idols” of my childhood. Mine was a inward journey and an intense soul
    journey I have witnessed in many others who have experienced a loss such as yours.
    For me those deep questions became the catalyst to propel me inward there to
    discover a deep meaning in my experience and new purpose for my life. This
    inner journey can take some time, and can be intense and is why I have written
    so much about soul pain. It is also important for me to acknowledge that
    regardless of how many children you have, it is tragic to lose any one of them
    and that particular one can never be replaced. You might find some of the
    material on my website of value. It is http://www.takingflightinternational.com
    and http://www.takingflightbooks.com
    I hope my words have affirmed and validated your experience.

  13. Reading your post touched me very deeply! I also lost a child at the age of 23. We lost our beautiful daughter in a car accident in September 1996. And my birthday is also June 16th same as your son. These details jumped at me. I am so sorry for your loss and from my own experience, I can truly say that a one-year loss is so so fresh and fragile. I barely survived for the first five years. Be good to yourself and take all the time you need to heal. The best way I can sum it up is that you never get over such a loss but you can learn to live with it. Hugs!

  14. what a beautiful tribute to Anthony

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