Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Recently I have come to realize that I am in a bit of denial when it comes to how my children are dealing with their grief. Most of the time they don't say much about how they are feeling, but then I have to remember, they are pretty much all teenagers. They aren't supposed to know what they are feeling anyway.
This past weekend I had some good friends over for the weekend. We spent a good amount of time reminiscing, and also sharing where we find ourselves in our lives. My 19 year old daughter was with us for most of this. At one point the conversation turned to a discussion about the various ways people can feel about their spouse. Some people consider themselves kindred spirits with their spouses, other's say they are good friends. Sometimes spouses will say they have grown apart, some have found deeper love with time. Some have shared honestly about compromises made to make a marriage work, and others share that they loved their spouse whole heartily.
During one of these type of discussions, I could see that my daughter was getting quite teary eyed. She then turned to me and asked how I loved Michael, and how did we relate to each other in private. I assured her that I loved the hell out of Michael. I also let her know that while we were mostly in sync with each other, we both really appreciated, and enjoyed, our differences. Those differences often became something endearing to each other. With these words, my daughter's face relaxed, and a peacefulness found a home in her eyes.
Yesterday afternoon I was driving my 12 year old home from school. I could see that he was in a deep, and thoughtful, place. I asked what was on his mind. He said that his class had watched a movie about bullying, whose main story line was about a gay teen. This story really cut him deep, and made him feel sad and emotional. He then said that sometimes he feels like life is not always worth living. Of course I have felt this way at times as well, but got very concerned hearing this from my son. When I questioned him further, he said that he feels that he has gone through so much more than other kids his age. He has lost Michael, his step-father, lost his birth mother, and has experienced the emotional, and physical, challenges that have plagued our family. Before I could respond to this he then said that at the same time, he feels very good about our move to San Diego. He loves that he has developed some really good friendships in our own neighborhood, and that I have given him some increased freedom, which makes him feel like I have recognized that he is almost a teenager.
Each of these recent situations have really caused me to look beyond my own personal grief, and get in better touch with the grief that my kids continue to struggle with. I have sometimes wondered if they were feeling the loss of Michael as strongly as I have, as their relationship to him was different than mine, and that the must have at some point pulled back a little from him as a way to self protect when he did die.
I love each of my kids, and try to always be mindful of the fact that loss has always been with them. Even at a young non-verbal age, they began experiencing loss, especially when they were removed from their birth mother. It's hard enough when you are an adult, and have words, and some wisdom, to attach to your experiences. It's another matter when your mind has not yet fully developed, and you are trying to make sense of something that will never truly make sense.
Now just as quickly, and unexpectedly, as my kids' recent sharing of their sorrow arrived, they have moved on to their other daily activities. They seem better able to just shift here, and shift there. For me, I need to not allow myself to get too far into my own denial of their grief. I need to remember that even though they are running around with their friends, laughing, and making plans, they too carry a considerable amount of grief with them everyday.