Editor: Sonya Marvel
Contributors: All Members of My Mom Is A Survivor
Denial is a process of not allowing feelings to come to the surface. Denial is a reaction, which distances the grieving person from the loss, thereby protecting you from being overwhelmed by emotions.
Some people may experience disbelief at hearing about the death of their child. They may believe that our child should not have died. They may have difficulty imagining life without your child. "They were too young." "They were too good." "They were too healthy. "I can't survive without him or her." All of these are common reactions.
When I lost my son, it was such a shock that I denied that it could be true. I denied it was my son laying in that room. I was not allowed to see him, so I just knew it was someone else in that room and that John was really still alive. I lived through the shock of it when I saw him for the first time in funeral home. Even after I buried him, the reality of it all just did not sink in. I denied he was *really* dead for six months. When the reality of it did sink in, I was in total devastation. I went into a crying frenzy for an entire week. I didn't want anyone to know my severe pain, so the second someone would walk into a room at my home (including my husband) I would stop crying. They could all see that my heart was breaking, but they chose to pretend everything was alright. My face and eyes were swollen for a week! How could they not see this? I was hurting way past reality and was beginning to formulate a plan, which we can discuss in a future subject.
I needed to see John. I needed to talk to him. I went to his grave daily with fresh flowers. Then I began to not feel him there. I felt him more in our home. I would be getting ready for work and stand to one side of the mirror, because I could feel John standing beside me.
I could not believe he was gone. I would have dreams with him telling me he was safe, but he couldn't come home. I still expected him to be home! I really believe this is God's way of helping you through this total loss! Or could it have been my son's way of helping me through this total loss. It was probably both. The human mind has certain shields that help with the healing and acceptance. I don't think I will ever accept John's death. I believe we will be together again in heaven and until then I will just bide my time here on earth. I am not afraid to die as I was in the past. We are all going, one day! But I am no longer afraid, because I know John will be waiting for me.
Mom to John
9/8/69 - 1/20/89
Why are all these people at my house? I just want them to go away. I know they mean well, but leave me alone. My best friend, our family. They want to help. They can't. My son is gone. How can my son be gone? He had such a bright future. He was looking forward to college. He was just beginning to become a man. He can't be gone.... I want to wake up and see him laying in his bed...What happened? They told me he was going to be healthy after the transplant, have so much energy. They told him, he was not going to believe how good he will feel. What happened? I can't believe I will live the rest of my life without him. I want to die....After the doctor told me my son had died, I wanted to run from the hospital, lock myself in my room, I just wanted to be alone... How would I go on without my son? I never experienced denial. I just longed for him to come walking through the door, or to wake up and see him in his room. I feel a great sense of loss and emptiness.
Mom to Anthony
12-2-79 - 1-28-97
Hi. This is Debbie. I don't get to be involved very much, but I do try to do what I can. When I read what the topic was for the month, I had to say something.
I lost my then 15 yr. old son Josh to teenage suicide on Nov. 6, 1996. Josh is my firstborn. The child that has so many expectations since they are the first. The sun rose and fell on this child. He was the 1st grandchild on both sides, very much loved, and now very much missed.
The day I came home to ambulances, police and SO many people just standing around my home is a day I will never forget. Denial instantly, even though I know it had something to do with Josh, for he had been depressed for quite a while. The first thing I saw was my husband standing where I was to park. Just standing there. I quickly looked around to see that everyone was just standing there, not moving or just pacing around. My thought was, if there was such an emergency to have all these people here why weren't they busying around and doing something ! My husband couldn't even get the words out of his mouth. When I asked what has happened, all he could say was "I think you know"...I think I know what??? Where is Josh is what I could scream...where is he? is he alright? Dead?? what do you mean dead? He can't be dead. Why aren't they fixing him?? Dead?? How?? He hung himself, my husband muttered...NOT MY JOSH!! Someone did this to him, he would have never taken his life. He wouldn't do this to me, his Mom, he loved me....the whole evening as we sat in the motel that we stayed since I couldn't bear the thought of staying in that house again, I kept thinking over and over, he couldn't have done this. Someone did it to him. No way could my baby do this. My heart ached so badly, I missed him already...how could I survive my life without my baby, how?? And now what was I supposed to do?? How was I supposed to function, to go on....how could I not see my child ever again...those first few hours, days and weeks are unbearable pain. When I meet a new grieving parent online that has just learned of their child's death, it takes me back to my first grieving moments, those painful for denial moments....
Mom to Josh
10/31/81 - 11/06/96
Denial ~ a refusal to accept or acknowledge ~ how can the loss of a child not be so profound that the denial is an eternal thing within us? June 30, 1999 will be the 32nd anniversary of the loss of my first born, my beautiful and only daughter, Roberta Jo. Does the length of time that she has been gone make the denial any less? The answer is NO! There are no answers to "Why my baby?" When she was so wanted and loved and cared for. When there are so many babies being thrown away or senselessly killed. Do the trips to the cemetery to tend her earthly resting place, to place yet another bouquet of pink roses there, ease the longing to hold her near, or to wonder who she would have been now? All I can say is, after all this time, I have come to acknowledge her being gone ~ but I will never be able to accept her goneness.
Karen aka Blulady
Mom to Roberta Jo
12/19/66 - 12/30/67
Denial...I believe denial walks hand in hand with shock. They both have you in a non-believing state of mind. Denial is always the first reaction to anything tragic or negative that happens.
Denial...I felt it the moment I heard the words "Todd has been shot and is dead."
Denial...I said it had to be a bad, sick joke someone was playing on me.
Denial...I went through this stage for days. Todd was shot in a town an hour away and he died in a parking lot with what I will call strangers to me. He had no one to tell him "I Love You", no one to hold him close and plead for God to let him live..
Denial. We did not see him until the funeral home had finished doing what they could...they advised me not to see him, but how would I know he was gone if I did not see for myself? (My family would not let me go to identify his body. My brother and two nephews, Jeff & Reese went to do this for our family.) But, even seeing his body lying there so quiet and calm was not enough. I saw him as happy, laughing and singing, not as this quiet, silent body lying in a coffin.
Days, maybe weeks I felt it was all a mistake...that someone had been made to look like Todd for some insane reason...that Todd was hid away waiting for every thing to blow over. I have never voiced this to anyone...thinking he would walk in the door at any moment, saying "Hi Mom, what's for supper?"
Days going to the cemetery were just uncontrollable movements. Denial, one of the saddest feelings I have ever known. man seems never to want to say, OK, so this is it, reality, it happened, so where do we go from here??? How do we move on with our lives???
Denial...it still lurks in the shadows of my mind and heart even after 30 months ago today!!
Mom to Todd
5/25/64 - 10/13/96
When my son was lying in his hospital bed in a coma after being hit by a car, I denied it was him, I denied the fact that even though I knew he was not going to make it, that he wouldn't. I kept thinking my Joey isn't ready to die, isn't ready to give up and let go, I am not ready to let him go. Every day for two weeks, I drove 65 miles one way, to sit, and watch him slip further and further away, all the while denying that this was happening to him and to us. Even after the Doctor called me on June 23rd at 1030 at night, I still denied he was gone. Even when I saw my second born child lying in his coffin, I denied it was him. My child is supposed to outlive me! Not the other way around! The worst part was the last night of the funeral, as we were leaving the funeral parlor for the last time, I was barely holding myself together, thinking tomorrow he will be all right, when my sister all of a sudden cried out, "This sucks! We get to leave and Joey has to stay! This isn't fair! He was too young to die. We aren't ready for this, and neither was he"! She was right. We aren't ready, even after almost a year later, I still deny he is gone.
Mom to Joey
6/21/71 - 6/23/98
Denial... It may be hard to write on this aspect of grief. I am still in denial at times. In fact, I wonder if any parent ever truly gets past this stage. How can we ever really accept the death of our child? Won't there always be a part that just can not comprehend their death?
For me, in the very first months, I was not aware I was in denial. As soon as Jamie's funeral was over, I threw myself into making sure he was not forgotten and "making something good" come of his death. I started a memorial fund for him. Put out collection jars and ran an add in the paper.
Started a support group for victims of violent crime, with the Victim's Advocacy director. We did an article in the paper. I offered to help and support other grieving mothers, even as I was in shock and numbness. His headstone had to be just so. I wrote articles to the paper. Less than 3 months after his death, with the help of an angel (Sonya)) I had done a website for him. I tended his grave almost daily.
When the phone would ring and I answered, I always expected him to say, "Mama?" Which is what he always said when I answered the phone. Michael says "Hey" when he calls, so I miss that very much. If Billy or Michael answered the phone, if I heard them say, "Hello?" and then, "Hey". I'd wait for them to tell me it was Jamie. When he called the house, he almost always was calling for me. Of course, it never was, but I still expected it to be. The ringing phone was a torment. It still is.
My husband took Jamie's pickup truck. I hated that and I hated him, even though I told him to go ahead. For the first 4 months, he was not allowed to drive it down our driveway. He had to go up to his mother's drive, come down thru the field and park it out of site of our house. If I happened to catch a glimpse of him as he went up her driveway, my heart would stop.
Every time the back door opened, I listened for his footsteps, or his voice calling me. I still do.
I remember so clearly the day reality slapped me in the face. It was in mid-September. I was changing the flowers on his grave from summer ones to fall ones. It suddenly dawned on me that a whole season of the year had gone by without a glimpse of Jamie and without hearing from him. That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was bargaining with God. If I did enough good works, if I made it count for something, if I helped others, God would make it not true!!!
I hit the depths of despair in that moment of revelation. Jamie was not coming back. God wasn't going to make it "not true". Nothing, nothing I could do was going to bring him back. That brought on the months of true grieving, true knowledge of my loss. I am thankful God gave me those months. If that knowledge had hit me full blast at the beginning, it would have killed me. Literally.
I am just now to the point of coming to terms with that and finding a few days of Peace.
Mom To Jamie
2/12/73 - 5/12/98
Denial was a hard one for me to overcome after Cindi's death. One minute it was real the next it wasn't. I even invented a fantasy to cope with her death. Since the issues surrounding her death were so suspicious it made my fantasy easier to believe. My fantasy was she was part of the Witness Protection Plan. Therefore giving me the reason I needed for not hearing from her yet letting her be alive. This worked for awhile but then the brain said "You know this isn't true".
Mom to Cindi (Lucinda) Raeanne Clark
3/1/72 - 6/29/90
Beyond Silence and Denial
Bregman's response to "a new language for death and dying and grief" was prompted by a seminary student's rhetorical question: "Once you've said that death is natural, what more is there to say?" She largely embraces the death-awareness and hospice movements that have articulated the new language, in which "death is natural" is a commonplace. But that commonplaceness raises questions about its meaning and challenges Christian traditions that have long devoted attention to the supernatural. To show how Christian thought has been transformed by the new language, Bregman first sketches the histories of Christian attitudes toward death and dying and of the death-awareness and hospice movements in the U.S. She then discusses the interrelationship of the three, incidentally considering American misappropriation of Freudian language. Convinced that Christianity has a stake in the death-awareness movement, she argues that a Christian contribution to the movement should be grounded in a theology of the Cross and resurrection. She may leave readers convinced that there is more to say and that saying it will be of lasting importance.
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