When I heard of another young man’s passing recently, I felt I needed to share with those who are grieving. I hope that it may bring some comfort to them. Susan E.
I want to share with you my experience of the pain and grief after losing a second son to death. I believe that my sharing will help someone who might be experiencing the same pain of losing someone they love.
I was blessed with four children, three handsome boys and a beautiful daughter. I have Kevin and Melanie whom I love very dearly. They share this painful experience with me. They provide the comfort during the hardest and darkest times in my life. My oldest son Merle committed suicide in August 1992. Ben passed away unexpectedly this summer. They both live on in my heart and in the precious memories they left behind.
My youngest son passed away on August 20 1997. He was a young man who just turned eighteen years old exactly six months before that fateful day. That day started like any other day. We all woke up and started our day like any other. School had started a few days before and he seemed to be enthusiastic and committed to finishing his secondary V. He had abandoned his studies in frustration a few months before the end of last year. That evening he went to play basketball with his friends and I went to my meeting. A few hours later, he collapsed while playing and he was lying in the clinic with a team of nurses and a doctor around him, trying desperately to make him breathe and get his heart beating. I was standing there holding his hand and stroking his hair and urging him to breathe. It was the most helpless and frustrating situation that I ever found myself in. As any parent, I wanted to be the one lying on that bed, I wanted to be the one in his place. At the same time I was trying to pray but I couldn’t find the words. I had hopes that with all the modern equipment and the new technology of today, they will successfully revive him and he will be okay. Somehow he will get up and be his normal self and be a bit embarrassed about the commotion and concern for him. An hour had passed after he was brought in, there still was no sign of Ben breathing on his own. Minutes later a plane took him away, along with a doctor and a nurse to the nearest hospital. I was told later that their lifesaving efforts did not stop all the way to the hospital.
I was still hopeful as I packed my overnight bag. I waited for a flight to take me to him. I packed a change of clothes for him, thinking we will be coming home together in a few days. The time slowly passed as I waited for a plane to arrive or for a call from the hospital to tell me he was all right. I don’t remember the time when they came to tell me that he died. I just remember feeling this unbearable pain, thinking that he will not be coming home alive. I cried and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. I remember feeling angry and not wanting to believe what was happening. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare and everything would be okay again. When I’m in my normal mental state, I understand that death is a part of life, which is the end of our life cycle, but at that time, I refused to comprehend that the Creator has destined his life to end that evening. I was thinking how unfair and cruel God could be to have him die at such a young age. I felt that the time I had with him wasn’t long enough. I selfishly wanted him to be close to me, to feel his love, to hear his joyous laughter and to put his arms around me for a hug as he often did. I wanted to hear his voice, I wanted to laugh at his mischievous ways. I wanted to tell him I love him and say all the things that I left unsaid. I wanted him back alive. I wanted my son back with me. Now I know he is with me spiritually but I still long for his physical presence. I have a hard time accepting that he is not coming back. I haven’t reached that part of my grieving. I still momentarily forget that he is gone for good, I sometimes think he is at home.
Prior to the funeral when my family and friends were with me I felt comfort. At the same time I wanted them to leave me alone. I wanted everyone to go away. I felt if they left, Ben would be back.
I had all these mixed feelings. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die.
I was in shock. I was in shock. I was so angry at the Creator, I couldn’t even pray. I was going through the motions of living, making decisions for the funeral, comforting people, reading cards and accepting the food and flowers that were brought to the house. I shed so many tears and I really wished that this nightmare would come to an end. At times, I would think that I understood what was happening, but I didn’t think that I had enough courage and strength to face it. I wanted to run away. Although I had these people around me showing their love and support, I felt so alone and so hurt. I thought nobody understood what I was feeling. Now I know that these thoughtful and concerned people help ease the burden of carrying the immense anguish alone. The funeral itself was a blur of events. I somehow found the strength to pay my final tribute to Ben. I kept thinking that it was a dream that I would wake up from soon.
Today, I am still mourning for my son. I have experienced this painful process before. I am learning that grief is not the same for every loss. The profound pain is the same. Each person that touches our lives affects us differently. Each person that loses someone is different. Each grief is unique. I hope to help others understand and accept that their emotions and feelings are normal. That one must deal with grief in their own way to what is acceptable to them.
These days, I still have my ups and downs. When I feel the unbearable pain, sometimes I still wish there was some pill to relieve the ache in my heart, but there’s no such thing. Only time can heal this pain. There are days when I still get angry. I want to hit something or somebody, but I don’t know what or who. I feel like throwing a tantrum. I want to scream and throw things around. I have found some positive ways to help me through my grieving. I have friends and other people I can talk to. I also find comfort in praying. I cry when I need to and I am thankful that my children understand the tears that I must shed. I don’t have to hide the tears from them. They share my grief with understanding and compassion. I know there will be many more tears. The writing I am doing is a big part of my grieving and my eventual healing. I know that I will find acceptance one day as I had with the loss of my other son.
I don’t know how much time that will require. I take it one day at a time. I find comfort in the belief that the Creator came to take $en home. There is a sense of serenity in believing we will be together again some day.
When I think back on that evening when Ben and I crossed paths for the last time and went about our ways. How I wish that I had taken the time to tell him that I loved him and that I was very proud of him. When I think about my son, Ben so young, healthy and athletic, death was something that never entered my mind and much less expected. I assumed that my children would outlive me. I cannot question the reason the Creator chose to take Ben back. I know that He had given my the priviledge to love him and to have him share his life with me and his brothers and his sister and girlfriend Flora. These words of wisdom that my grandmother once said came to mind, “That the children we have are not ours to keep, they are God’s children, and he puts them in our care for
a time and he takes them back when the time comes.” I understand that the Creator has a purpose for us in life. Ben had served his purpose. I understand that life is precious, that I must live it to the fullest and not hold back the unconditional love that I should be sharing with people, especially my children. I demonstrate my love for them in any way I can in my daily life. I find some peace in knowing that Ben died knowing that I loved him very much and this love didn’t end that day.
I wish to express my thanks to those who made every effort to save Ben’s life. My gratitude goes to the people who sent cards and flowers, for the prayers and words of comfort and to those that contributed in anyway. On behalf of my children Kevin and Melanie and of Ben’s girlfriend Flora, I thank you so much. A special acknowledgement is extended to the youth that came and brought solace to us during this painful time. Your demonstration of the tremendous love and compassion has indeed eased the burden that my family and I had to bear. May God bless all of you! I thank God, my Creator for the gifts that He has given me, my life and my children, Merle, Kevin, Benjamin and Melanie.
Finally, I want to share this poem that I read during the funeral. It was taken from one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. The author is unknown. I felt that this poem was the appropriate legacy that Ben would leave for me and the rest of us who knew and loved him.
When I die, give what is left of me to children
If you need to cry, cry for your brothers walking beside you
Put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to
I want to leave you with something,
Something better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I have known and loved
And if you cannot live without me,
Then let me live on in your eyes, your mind and your acts of kindness
You can love me most by letting hands touching hands,
And letting go of children that need to be free.
Love does not die, people do
So when all that is left of me is love…
Give me away…