"Melancholy" -Albert György-
My journey began on April 10, 2019, when my son, Trevin, transitioned at the age of 19 due to an automobile accident. My world instantly shattered apart. There are no amount of words that can even begin to describe the gut-wrenching pain that coursed through me; unimaginable pain that carried me out into a sea of blackness. Broken.
Following his accident many people reached out to me to provide support and encouragement. I use the word “encouragement” lightly as I found a lot of people did not know what to say given Trevin was only 19 years old. A disruption of life's natural order. The sentiments came from good intentions, but when someone would tell me it would be OK, I felt a deep ache within my heart. It wasn't going to be OK, not even close. Then there was, "Give it time, time heals." It doesn't. The passage of time may ease the raw pain, but time is not a healer. Quite honestly, there isn't much that could have been said to ease the deep sorrow that permeated every ounce of my being.
In the days and weeks that followed, I felt guilt when people tried to facilitate a connection or invite me to do things to get out of the house. I completely avoided them or said no. Some days I barely had enough energy to even get out of bed and the last thing I wanted to do was to be social. In fact, I didn’t want any expectations on me. I needed space to process all of the emotions from shock to disbelief, to anger, to overwhelming sadness. Every day I expected my son to pull in the driveway “at any moment” and when he didn't, my heart shattered all over again. Within these long days I also had to process the heartbreaking realization of how different our lives would be without Trevin physically here.
I’ve learned more about grief and grieving than I ever expected to in this lifetime as losing a child has been the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I’ve lost many people throughout the years, including my mother and nephew, both of whom I love dearly. But, the reality is nothing hurts worse than losing your own child.
Grief alters you. It alters your life, your routine, your future plans – everything.
Grief is not black and white, or even a thousand shades of gray. It is very individual and different for every single person. I’ve learned our society has a very poor grasp on grief. It isn’t a short time of pain or sadness. Grief doesn’t follow a linear pattern. And it certainly is not something you “get over.” Some people also feel like they need to hide their grief. They were taught they need to be strong and carry on. To not openly grieve or mourn. If you are showing too much, or for too long, you are "stuck" or "emotional." If you don't show enough, you are "cold" or "not grieving."
Hold space. Just hold space within your heart for someone who is navigating profound grief. The healing journey is extremely difficult. Just ... hold space.
When your life is shattered apart and you try to slowly put the pieces back together, they will never look or feel the same. The edges are sharp and jagged, and it stings with every piece you try to place. But time doesn’t stop and somehow in all the chaos of trying to live life, you have to try to figure out how to put the pieces back together, where you belong in the big picture, what is truly important, and how to move forward authentically.
Having to acknowledge that life continues to move forward has been one of the hardest things I’ve been forced to accept. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wished I could just stop time for a few hours, a day, a week, a month – just so I can try to catch my breath, or understand, or make sense of anything.
Grief leaves you with many unanswered questions. I am learning that grief is not about finding answers, but learning to live with the questions. And then asking more.
Henri Nouwen once wrote, “When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.”
Even though I am forever changed, I am thankful I am Trevin’s mom. I am thankful for the eternal relationship I have with him and for his continued patience in teaching me his new language and way of communication. Given Trevin's outgoing (and persistent!) personality, I guess I should not have been too surprised when he made me very well aware he was still here … still right here.
I am more of a spiritual person than religious, but I love what CatholicMom.com writes, "Death does not end our relationship with the deceased because those who have passed on are not lost to us. The veil between the living and the dead is thin when we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ. God mysteriously unites all of us and I know from experience there is neither time nor distance when we live and move and breathe in the Spirit."
Whatever your religious/spiritual background or beliefs are, I am not here to promote or criticize. Trevin has shown me that all religious and spiritual paths can bring us closer to our loved ones who have transitioned from this earthly life to their plane of existence.
The aperture of my awareness has been opened so widely since my son's transition. Trevin is an amazing soul that enriched so many lives while he was here physically, and he continues to do so today from his side of the veil.
Trevin Shines On.
“There are two ways of spreading Light;
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”