Many things can stir those emotions and bring them up to the surface. For my kids, it was the amazing bereavement camp – Comfort Zone Camp – they attended this past weekend that seemed to stir up a lot of different emotions. Not for them I might add, but for myself and the rest of my family as well. Grief can be an ugly thing to have to face. There is no way to sugar coat it. What my kids feel is real and raw. I can’t fix it, take it, get rid of it, or carry it for them. That in itself can be very hard for me as a parent.
We don’t want our kids to hurt. I don’t want my kids to be without their daddy. But they are. He isn’t coming back. It is not like a movie. We can’t hit the rewind button. We can only go forward from here. Learning how to do that is a process. Grief is a journey. What I am about to share in this post may be hard for some to read. It is hard for me to write. It is even harder to live. But I have always believed that God is using our story for something bigger than ourselves. I only hope that it only encourages others on their own unique journey of grief.
It seems that camp stirred up a lot of different things for each of us. For my son, Ryan, it stirred up more of his anger. He has been the angriest since his dad’s death. Totally understandable! But I want to help him learn how to overcome the anger so that it doesn’t overcome him. I don’t want him to grow up to be an angry man, husband, and father. Anger is like a cancer that can slowly eat away at you. I don’t have all the answers, but I am trying to learn how to help him on this journey.
I am angry too. I am angry that my husband Erik died so young. I am angry that my kids have to grow up without their father. I am angry that Erik is no longer on this earth. He was such a good man; a good friend, a good worker, a good husband, a good father. When I see how his death has hurt my kids, I am angry! But I must learn how to not let my anger rule over me. It takes time. It doesn’t go away with the snap of a finger. One thing I have discovered is that grief is never-ending. It will never go away. It will always be there in some form in our lives. It is a hole that can never be filled.
That brings me to my next point: “The Hole.” It’s the empty space that remains where Erik used to be. Valerie, my young daughter, is the one who came up with this picture. She is wise beyond her years and never ceases to amaze me. God continues to use her in my life to help me on my journey. No matter what it is we are doing in this life, Erik will never again physically be there to be a part of it. That reality breaks my heart. Allow me to share from my Facebook page:
Wrote this song and/or poem as I ponder something Valerie said to me recently. When talking about her new life, now that her precious daddy is gone, she talked about there being sad in everything. And then she said that there was a hole in everything without him. In her words,” We can go to Canobie Lake Park, but Daddy isn’t there to have fun with us, and we can laugh, but he isn’t here to laugh with us.” Those words just about shattered my heart. I hate that my kids must endure this pain the rest of their lives. The pain I feel in my heart for them is so overwhelming. Grief is a journey that is full of ups and downs and bumps and bruises. It doesn’t get easier; you just learn how to live with it (if that’s possible). I never thought this would happen to my family.
There’s a hole in my heart
It’s been here since you went away
Nothing seems to be able to fill it up
Just have to learn to live with it every day
We can laugh
But you won’t be there to laugh with us
We can play
But you won’t be there to join us
We can cry
But you won’t be there to hold us
We can learn
But you won’t be there to teach us
We can live
But you won’t be there to see us
There’s a hole in everything
Nothing’s as it used to be
There’s still a me but there’s no you
How can I ever make it through?
There’s a hole in everything I do
The truth is, the hole will never go away. At games, graduations, weddings, funerals, amusement parks, birthday parties, football games, movies, whatever. Erik will NEVER be there to experience it with us! He won’t be in any of the photographs. He won’t walk Valerie down the aisle or hold her in his arms for their dance. How do you get through that? I am not sure. I don’t have all the answers. We will face those milestones as they come. We will face them together and with support from God, friends, and family. That is all we can do.
The days following camp have been hard on my son, Dan, as well. Last night he just couldn’t stop crying. My heart aches for him. He is so sweet and caring. His heart is so tender. He has been having a rough streak in baseball and it has really taken a toll on him. He has also been struggling with school. Academically he is doing so amazingly well. But the garbage and filth that surrounds him there is really bothering him. All the swearing from kids and kids teasing him for just being Dan really upsets me. You see in 7th grade I guess it isn’t “cool” to be nice to girls or to autistic kids. I am so proud of who Daniel is! I am proud that he is nice to everyone. I hate that other kids try to make him feel bad about the wonderful person he is. Add grief to that, and it’s a tricky path to walk.
I am sad for “The Hole” that still remains. It is in my heart and in my life as well. I have never stopped missing or loving Erik. I never will. There will always be a hole in my life without him. This is my journey on learning how to live with that, and how to help my kids as they learn how to live through their own grief.
I will be honest and say that it has been a rough road for my kids. They have had so much change in such a short amount of time. So much is different now. I know that they miss their old lives. I know that they miss their dad every moment of every day, even when they aren’t saying it out loud. They will always miss him, and I will never try to tell them to stop missing him.
Now we are faced with learning how to deal with what is in front of us. This new life is not one we chose, but it is the life we have to live now. It has not been an easy journey. I am thankful that Comfort Zone Camp was able to give the kids (and me) permission to feel these emotions so that we can embrace them and learn how to deal with them. I am glad that we now know we can grieve and grow as a family, and find new ways to heal.
Samantha Sage is a proud mom and wife, as well as a widow. She writes about her journey following the death of her first husband on her blog.