Chicken Soup for the Soul – Grieving and Recovery

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery

BY: Heather Schichtel

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I sit on the park bench eating cheesy popcorn and watching young children on the playground. I am enjoying the day, the sun on my face, and the smell of fresh grass.

Randomly I think, I wish Samantha could run and play with them.

And there it is, the cold hand in my cheesy popcorn, the presence taking up too much space on the park bench, blocking my sunshine. My Grief.

“Really?” I say. “I didn’t invite you. Get your hand out of my cheesy corn.” Instead, I end up having to scoot over, making more room for My Grief. Grief comes and goes when I least expect it. I’ll be in my car, driving along listening to music and I’ll catch it in the corner of my eye, kicking the back of my seat.

“Hey Heather.”

“Aww crap, what are you doing here?”

“It’s been a while. I thought I would stop in for a visit.”

“Well, make sure you fasten your seatbelt and be quiet. My daughter’s sleeping and I don’t want you to wake her up.”

“Can I change the station?”

“No.”

“Can I play with the window?”

“No, you can just come along for the ride. 

So we go on the ride together, fingernails thumping on the dashboard as a reminder of who decided to show up today. Yes, I am quite aware of your presence, you don’t need to remind me.

Grief’s appearance used to rattle me, send me into the bathroom crying hysterically. Render me useless for a day. Sometimes it still does, but as Grief has been established as a consistent visitor in our household, we have drawn up a contract. We have an agreement.

As the mom of two children, one who died at birth and one who has a progressive disease, I will grieve. I will grieve for many dreams that will not come to fruition. I will grieve for a life I thought would be different.

I will grieve at times. And I will not grieve at times. I will laugh at times. I will not laugh at times.

Grief can come into our house but is not allowed to stay. If allowed to stay, it would devour the corners of our house. It would suck up the oxygen in the room. It would consume me.

And that is not acceptable.

Grief tends to run within the Special Needs community I am a part of; I bump into him quite often, even visiting other families….

“How are you?”

“My daughter has pneumonia. She is in the hospital on a ventilator.”

I look around and see Grief, sitting on the couch, smugly picking at dirty fingernails.

And I meet those who sadly keep very, very close company with this unwanted guest. Grief hangs over them like a shroud. It is hard to laugh. It is hard to love, because in copious amounts Grief tends to ooze; like a nasty septic wound… draining life from us.

But we still have to laugh, we still have to play, we still have to live… life carries on.

I cannot, at the end of my life say… well, it was long, hard and I was sad.

Surprisingly, our relationship is not based entirely on conflict. My interactions with Grief have allowed me to see myself raw, unprotected, and exposed. At times I feel that I have lost my skin… yes, here I am. Be careful, that’s my beating heart you see there. Do not touch.

I am no longer afraid to approach others regarding their own tragedies. I bring up the tough conversations. How is your mother? I am sorry for your loss. I am so sorry your daughter is in the hospital. I hug, I cry, I listen. Not because I am an über-sensitive person but because I know Grief sometimes travels alone except when he travels with his favorites… Isolation and Loneliness.

Sometimes Grief shows up at a party… drinks my wine, eats my last bite of fudgy dessert. It’s an annoyance really, but since Grief is not a constant life guest, I have learned to tolerate the time we spend together. Sometimes we even enjoy an introspective moment or two.

We have set the rules and sometimes they are followed. We cannot have a permanent impy, uninvited guest… we don’t have the room… not in our lives, not in my heart… life is too short and despite the bad things that can happen… life is too sweet.

2 thoughts on “Chicken Soup for the Soul – Grieving and Recovery

  1. Greetings,
    I don’t know if you will ever read this, but I have to try.
    My husband and I lost our baby girl Pearl Rose, six days ago. She was almost six weeks old. As Pagans, we’re struggling to justify our own choices and I am searching desperately for pieces of peace to help us face each new day without her, and to be strong for our older daughters.
    I found your article in my search. You give me hope that someday grief will ease the suffocating grip on us. You have helped give me strength that someday I can wake without wanting to scream out my pain.
    Thank you so very much.
    ~Amber

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    1. Amber, I cannot even begin to tell you have very sorry I am for your loss. I honestly don’t know what I should say, hun. I have lost all my family members and I am the last one left of my line. My mother passed when I was 11 years old. Her passing ripped my world apart. I was angry for a very long time over her being taken from me. I couldn’t understand why she had to leave me and to this day I still don’t. Out of all my family members’ passing, my mother’s hit me the hardest. Till this day, there is an empty hole in my heart. When she died, part of me died with her.

      I know they say time heals all wounds and losses, but it doesn’t. Of those of us who have experienced such loss we know different. I won’t say I know how you feel because I don’t. I cannot even begin to fathom the pain you must be feeling right now. When my mother passed, I was a very lost soul. Fortunately, the Goddess found me and gave me comfort and the strength to go on. I use to say everything happened for a reason but I no longer believe that. In fact the Goddess gave me the peace of mind to stop looking for the reasons. I was given the understanding that our loved ones’ passing is part of life. A very harsh part of life that we must learn to accept. Then the Goddess gave me a beautiful image that is still with me even now. It was an image of a beautiful meadow with tall flowing grass. There was a bridge I was crossing and I saw my mother and sister running to me in that field. We were united and it was beautiful. That image is what has took away my anger. It keeps me going because I know we will be reunited with our love ones one day, the Goddess has promised that.

      The precious life that you brought into this world and then to lose her, I can’t imagine your agony. I know you are suffering and struggling, you have to be. Remember you have other children that you must care for. Those children and your husband needs you right now. I know what I am getting ready to suggest is going to be hard to do but you need to try. Put your grief aside right now and help your husband and your children with their own grief. Everyone has always turned to me to be the rock. Now you have to be the rock for your family. The choices you had to make were the right ones, never doubt that. You did what you had to do, living with it isn’t easy I know. Your precious Pearl Rose is in a much better place right now. She is looking down on you and she can hear and see everything. If you feel like it, go find a place so you can be alone and just talk to her. Pour your heart out to her. I believe after you do this, you will start to come to some kind of peace.

      I won’t lie to you, the pain never goes away. We have to learn to live with it unfortunately. Even to this day, the loss of my mother comes back to haunt me. Pearl Rose will always be in your heart and your memory. For the brief time she was here, she felt your love and knew she was loved very much. Even now she knows you love her and her passing has caused you such anguish. She doesn’t want that for you, hun. Everything you are experiencing right now is painful and very, very difficult. As I suggested, put your grief on the back burner for now. Help your husband and your children. Be strong for them. They need you now more than ever. Don’t look for reasons cause I have and there aren’t any. Loss of a loved one is very painful but it part of being human. Find comfort in the Goddess, call on Her and She will come. Most of all be strong and be the rock your family needs you to be right now.

      Again, I am so very sorry for your loss. If you need anything or just want to talk, I am here for you. Now turn to the Goddess and find strength in Her.
      Goddess Bless You & Your Family,
      Lady A

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