Hoping to share the love, joy, and grace I have received in my own life.

Is it you or is it me?

on July 1, 2015

I have learned so much through this grief journey.  I have learned as much about myself as I have learned about other people in my life, about Trevor, and about our society, in general.  I used to think that the reason so many of my relationships were changing were because of other people, not me.  My grief is still leading me to new discoveries all the time.  Last night I discovered maybe it is me.  Maybe I am the reason that so many of my relationships have changed.

My grief journey can be described as a road of extreme mountains and valleys.  There are times that I seem to be doing well, walking along the top of a mountain.  All of a sudden, something comes along the path. Sometimes it is something I’m aware of, such as an important date.   Other times, out of the blue, I find myself falling down the side of the mountain and know that I’m going on the same path I have trudged a hundred other times in the past 3 and a half years.  My grief pulls me down and I know that I have  work to do to get back up onto that mountain.  I always make the choice to climb though.  It is hard.  I completely understand how people can get down in the valley and tread there.  In the swampy muck of the valley, it is extremely difficult to pull yourself up and get on solid ground to start the climb again.  I often wonder if I will always be on the repetitive path of mountains and valleys.  I do know, the longer I survive this life without my son, the longer the time on the mountain lasts and I am stuck in the valleys less often because I have learned tools that help me drag my heartbroken self out of the swamp quicker than before.

I am not sure what has caused the valley this week.  Things seemed to be going well.  Jeff and I went to the cemetery together (I go there frequently, but less often that I used to) and after that, for whatever reason, I started sliding down the mountain.  I have collected loads of helpful material regarding grief…books, news articles, therapeutic music, etc.  When I start feeling a decline in my path, I pull some of it out and get back to work.  Last night I came across a worksheet that was given to me in the first couple months following Trevor’s death.  The worksheet is titled, “Supports in My Life”.  At the top, the directions are…”Take time to identify those people, groups, and activities in your life which form your network of support and help to give meaning to your life.”  The worksheet has categories to list people that would allow a grieving person to reach out to when they need support.  Some of the categories listed are:  family members, friends, neighbors, clergy, colleagues, church groups, etc.  As I looked at the worksheet last night, I think of how the people that I might’ve listed on it when it was given to me more than three years ago would be completely different than the people I would list on it today. 

As I mentioned before, I used to think the change in my relationships following Trevor’s death was other people, not me.  It must be hard for them to understand my sadness.  Some have said I should be “over it by now”.  I no longer feel guilty responding, “I will never get over burying my son.”  It is permanent, not some temporary phase that will pass with time.  Until the day I die, I will not see him again.  A mother doesn’t get over that.  The grief will remain, but how I deal with it keeps evolving.  I work hard to stay on the mountain top as long as possible, but there are times that I need to let myself slide down the mountainside and wallow in the swamp.  It allows me to know that I am human.  I am a mom, living without one of my children on this earth.  For those of you that haven’t been through it, you may never understand and I certainly hope you never have to learn through experience.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have a fabulous support system.  I am not managing this journey on my own.  I was just really struck by the worksheet of “Supports in My Life” and how the people that I would’ve listed a few years ago wouldn’t be on the list today.  I came to the conclusion last night that maybe it isn’t everyone else.  It could very well be me.  I am not the person I was.  As crazy as it sounds, I believe I am a better person.  I have become more compassionate, more faithful, and less anxious.  I have met amazing people that are always reaching out to me when I am feeling low.  Last night, two of them reached out to me.  My friend, Donna, sent me an article that reminded her of Trevor, which put a smile on my face.  She really gets it.  She seems to always know when I need a little pick me up and has come through for me many times.  Then my friend, Susan, said she knew that I was struggling and wondered if we could get together after work today for ice cream or a glass of wine and talk through it.  I knew Donna before Trevor died, but I met Susan when I joined a women’s group at church following Trevor’s death.  Although neither of them would have been on my list of supports immediately following Trevor’s death, they would certainly be on it now.

The changing of relationships doesn’t only include friends.  My relationship with family members has changed too.  I used to be very connected to a few close relatives.  We now can go months without talking at all.  That hurts.  I am not sure why, but there are several family members that I have lost touch with.  I know that some people are bothered by the fact that I bring up Trevor’s name often.  It can be uncomfortable for them, because they do not know how to respond.  For me, I bring him up because I don’t want him to be forgotten.  I need to say his name and hear his name.  For my entire lifetime Trevor is my son.  His death doesn’t erase him from my life.  Why is it that our society is so uncomfortable with grief, death, and dying?  Why don’t we talk about it more often, without shame?  We are all going to die.  We are all going to experience the deaths of loved ones.  I have learned that I am not only grieving Trevor.  I am grieving some of the lost relationships, but I can celebrate all of the new relationships helping to make me a stronger, more loving, and accepting person.

I guess realizing that it may not be you, it’s me, is another lesson that I needed to learn.  I am not who I once was, but I don’t want to be.  This morning, I have pulled myself out of the mucky swamp and am going to begin the climb back up the next mountain.  I have wallowed enough this week.  I am thankful for my renewed faith and an excerpt from Isaiah that I came across this morning, “He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…Surely He has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows.” On to the journey back up the mountain…


4 responses to “Is it you or is it me?

  1. Marty Bee says:

    I know that it is me that has changed. I believe that even though we grieve and grieve every moment sometimes it seems for the rest of our lives, I also believe we fight for life because that is the human nature. In my case I don’t always get it right but my hardest part was excepting that I had changed. I admire you and of course you know I love you. Auntie M.

  2. metaour says:

    I have said from the very beginning “I have to figure out who Mary is without Jacob”…. Dana this put things into perspective…. I guess I have always known it was me but I still don’t know how to be me or who me is. I really love you and your willingness to share your strength with us.

  3. So humbled to be on this journey with you ❤

  4. Deb says:

    We don’t always get a chance to visit BUT I know you are there when I need you and you know I am here. We can always talk about Trev. He is my nephew and ALWAYS will be remembered. If I am talking to someone about nieces and nephews he is always named or counted just like the rest. We may not have been close BUT I love him no less. I know his light will ALWAYS shine bright ❤

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