The Seasoned Griever
By Judy Bruner

I can say this to you because I have lived with this for ten years.......

No, the pain will not go away. It will never stop hurting. You will carry it with you the rest of your life. But, it will not be as sharp as it is now. It does become softer in TIME.

You will be able to have days when you do not feel it all day time. You will have nights when you can sleep peacefully all through the night with out the nightmares, and you will wake up and feel time. You will be able to laugh and not feel guitly about it, read a good book or watch a nice movie without losing track in the middle of it.

A day will come when you will not feel pain all the time.. like you do now, but it takes a long time. That is why I call this a "journey", because it's not like a trip that we can ever really return from. You can't turn back and take a different route. You cannot keep yourself from taking it, or hide from it, hoping it will not find you. This journey is never ending, it's a new road. One that we've never traveled before. One with no map, no directions. It's one we never intended to have to take, but take it we have because we had no choice. It was chosen for us when our child died. This is a journey that changes you....forever.

I am what is called a "seasoned griever" because it has been several years for me. I am fortunate enough now to be able to look back and see my grief in stages. I can see where I was in the beginning when my pain was so raw and sharp that I felt like I was bleeding on the insdie. I thought it should surely kill me, because it hurt so, so much. I couldn't imagine anyone living with that kind of intense pain and surviving it.

I can see my next stage when the reality really sank in and I knew for sure that this was real, and it was not going away, and Ashleigh was not coming back. The pain then became even worse and I did not think I could bear it. I didn't want to bear it. I wanted to give up myself and just go to sleep and never wake up.

I can see when I got so tired of it and I got angry. I got so angry and so frustrated at the entire helplessnes of my situation, that I did not know what to do and I did not know what to do with all this uncontrollable ANGER!! I got mad at God, at doctors, at my family, my friends, strangers on the street even. The sun, the moon, a dog barking in the distance....I was angry with anything and everything in the world.

Then a sort of indescribable hoplessness set in and I was lost in it. There was no way out. Depression is too mild a word for how lost and utterly alone in my pain that I was. I gave up.

I think all my stages sort of built up. I never got out of one and then went onto in to another, they just each joined up until I was all consumed and there was literally nothing else. Nothing else except my grief and my pain. This was all within three years. By the end of that third year I was finally at a place where I could begin to function again and start the very long, ongoing process of my healing.

I just this minute opened a card from an old friend who lost her son a year before Ashleigh died. I think it was meant that I get her card right as I am writing to you so I can share this with you: She speaks of her grief as a journey also. It has been six years for her this May I believe. She says "it is not all uphill. I am now at the point where I feel I am actually living again. That doesn't mean that I don't have down times and sudden outbursts of crying, but grief and our loss is incorporated into our daily lives."

She is right. You will learn as you go my friend. You won't like it, and it won't be fun, but somewhere down this long road you will come to a time and a place that you can live despite the pain.

2003 - Judy Bruner