DEATH OF A SPOUSE OR CHILD
–>THIS POST is an interview with Ronny who lost his wife 12 years ago. It is fairly raw, so you may want to be prepared before you read it.
Loss of any type is grief. Grief is personal, and everyone approaches it in a way that best meets their individual needs. There isn’t a typical response to loss. But it is the inevitable fate of all human beings to experience the death of a loved one.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross established 5 stages of grief for those who are dying. Many of these stages apply to every type of grief. They are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
The Holmes And Rahe Stress Scale rates death of a spouse/child as the number 1 stressor. Retirement is number 10.
A friend of mine, Karen, lost her life in a horrific accident in 2007. I remember when Ronny, her spouse, called to notify me. I screamed in disbelief. Karen was just a friend to me. BUT she was the love of Ronny‘s life. He has gone up and down through the grieving transitions for many years.
Shortly after Karen’s funeral, Ronny made the following piece of art to express how he felt. His loved ones and friends understood the feelings his art represented.
I interviewed Ronny this week to talk about the grief process he’s been through.
I was getting ready to teach my first class of the day when I was called to the office. Three men from the church were there, and I knew there was something seriously wrong. They explained the accident to me and that it was going to have to be a closed coffin.
I used to think the movies from the 40s were so hokey; women would swoon, faint, and fall on the floor. I was wrong. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I fell to one knee.
I was in such shock, that I started to go back to teach my class, but was stopped and told to go home. I was going to drive myself home but was told someone needed to drive me.
I was totally incapacitated. I couldn’t make funeral arrangements. I could only sit in a chair and stare. Karen’s family came over and made the arrangements. I wasn’t capable of being involved.
After the funeral, I was invaded by church members and friends for a couple of days. I finally told people they had to quit coming over. I wanted to be left alone.
The doctor prescribed medication, and I was willing to take whatever he would give me for sleep, anxiety, and depression.
I started private counseling. Also, a friend referred me to a place in Austin called For The Love Of Christi [http://christicenter.org/]. It is a place with grieving groups. For example, there were groups for children; death; hospice, etc. Some of the participants who had lost spouses 10-12 years prior were still attending. I thought, “My goodness, these people keep telling the same stories over and over, this isn’t going to happen to me.” And here I am 12 years later in the same position. Except I don’t go there anymore. I just stay in my house. I believe I drove away many friends who hadn’t had the same experience; they were always trying to help me.
I developed some good friendships at the Love Of Christi. Since they had similar experiences, they knew not to try to fix me. I didn’t have to pretend for them. About five of us from the group banded together and started our own grief group outside of the security of our Christi group. We had the right to say anything we wanted without judgment. Most of the group disbanded over the years.
“Time heals all wounds” is a bunch of …. People think that recovery means you go back to who you used to be. But you can never go back to that. You will never be that person again. Especially if it’s a very significant loss. I’m pretty sure that a mother who loses a child grieves more than the father. A husband feels the greatest grief if he loses a wife.
I still feel very isolated, and I hate Thanksgiving and Christmas (since that is the period when Karen died.)
I wrote 4 poems before Karen’s funeral. I was non-functioning except for writing. The poetry came to me organically; I didn’t refine them. They were my raw emotion.
As Ronny went through the grieving process, he wrote a poem almost every day for a year. The poetry recorded his impressions and thoughts as he struggled with grief and loss. He did not hide his anger or rage. Many of you may relate to his feelings.
Bless all of you who are going through this process.