QUESTION: I just finished reading
the story about Nathan and his stepson. I too lost a child this March
6, 1997, who was hit by a car and only 7 years old. This is such a major
blow to the mind and body. I lost my father and my brother and grandparents
and now my son. Enough is enough! We made it through holidays barely,
emotionally and financially. My marriage is great and I think always
will be but there are other issues that concern me greatly. I have a
4 year old daughter and a 10 year old daughter. My 10 year old is very
intelligent and outgoing and thinks she's 14 or 15. She's got so much
anger built up inside that we truly can't stand her "most" of the time.
We have been going to counseling both publicly
and privately. I recently had enough of running to these support groups
and she avoids talking at all costs there as well. So I lost my temper
and told her to begin talking or else. She's causing herself physical
harm with hives and irritable bowel syndrome (I think) from holding
it all in. I just can't function well enough anymore to get her to
open up. I used to have clever words and phrases that would get her
to think but not interfere too much.
Now, after being off work since he died, (keep
in mind that I've worked out of my home for 8 years) and feel so much
financial stress that I question whether I should be working or not.
We are expecting a settlement any day from
this accident which would allow me not to work at all for a few years.
But someone approached me as well to work for them at a Fortune 50
company, with good pay and benefits. I get so tired sometimes and
think there is no way I could hold down a job yet and then I think
of my kids and whether this would be another major blow to them. They've
never known anything else. I've always put them first by taking one
lousy job at home after another but lately I feel like "I should just
get out in the work force like everybody else". Am I kidding myself
that I can go on and on surviving on my husband's income. Its okay
but its not going to allow us to prepare for our retirement. This
settlement will certainly help there too.
I wonder if I should just take the job and
see if we all adjust or wait out the settlement (which will be less
than a month away).
ANSWER: Your spirit is bruised and aching from the loss of
your son. Take time to grieve. Put your efforts towards your own healing
at this time. Taking on a new job would only push this grief to the
background which would create increased pressure on yourself and your
The death of a child is different from all others
you have previously experienced. Seek out support from others who
know this pain. Organizations such as "Compassionate Friends" may
be able to connect you with others who have shared similar life experience
and can help you mourn in a less formal setting than traditional counseling
groups. It is probable that you have been in such shock, that counseling
has been overwhelming instead of a help to you at this time. Take
time to yourself, but remain connected with one professional counselor
during this period of mourning to address your own individual feelings
as a mother.
Use your financial settlement to address your needs
now rather than mortgage your sorrow to your future. Your overwrought
nerves are responsible for resorting to "bullying" your 10 year old
towards health. You are scared and frightened of losing another child
in some manner and your pain overcame your capacity for absorbing
any further stress. You became desperate in your attempt to love her
and perhaps, determined to "save" her. This is understandable, and
a sign that you must give yourself the time and space to mourn, wail
and care for your own pain.
Parents often express that the loss of a child is
not something you recover from, but rather a pain with which you learn
to live. Seek wisdom from other parents who have traveled this road.
The more you can take care of yourself, the greater your energy and
patience will be restored for mothering your children who are living.
Your marriage is a source of nourishment and solace.
Use it to heal, to retreat from the world for awhile. Your soul needs
healing before your spirit will be able to fly again. Your loss is
one of the greatest magnitudes. Honor your son's spirit by making
room for the huge adjustment to losing him.
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