good advice from someone who's been there (long)
Below is a letter to the editor I cut and pasted from our local newspaper. The author is the mother of a young man who was kidnapped and murdered several years ago. The case received a lot of local news attention and in the aftermath, Mrs Baglier has shared her story with many and now helps counsel the grieving. I thought her words may provide some help to those who visit here.
Newly bereaved not alone
The holidays are tough when you are grieving, but let's reflect back and realize that somehow we survived them.
Sometimes the anticipation of a holiday is worse than the actual event, but I remind myself that I have eight years under my belt, so I am a seasoned "griever," if you will.
As I said, I have eight years of doing this thing I call "grief work," and I can say from firsthand experience that it is the greatest challenge anyone will ever have to go through. It is physically abusive, mentally and spiritually challenging, and just when you think you are making some headway, something triggers a memory of the person or event and once again your heart starts to break
All of us have heard the term "time heals all wounds," and so many well-intentioned people said those words to me during my deepest time of sorrow. Who knows, I probably at one time or another said those very words to someone I knew who was grieving.
But time does not heal all wounds; time is not the healer action is.
When we allow grief to overcome us, we become drained of energy, withdrawn, helpless and bitter. I fell into all those categories at one time. It was only with the help of some friends and a strong belief in a higher power that I was able to move on in that part of the grief process, but it was an awful lot of work.
I point this out to some people who tell me that they couldn't go on if they lost a child, and that I am so strong.
I cringe when I hear that because at one time in my life I told my very own son that if anything ever happened to him, they might as well dig two graves, as I would never again be the same.
Only part of that holds true. I am not the same person I was before my son was murdered, but a new person has emerged - a more caring person, more appreciative of life's little gifts.
I would like to share what I call the five tasks of grieving, but because of space I will just share one of them at this time.
Let me say this: You don't have to have faced the death of someone to grieve. You might be grieving the loss of a job, loss of freedom, loss of a pet, or even the loss of what you thought was a loving and meaningful relationship.
Accept the pain. Accepting the pain is the hardest part of grief work, and the longest. All of us all been taught in life to avoid pain and things that hurt.
I often get comments like the following when counseling grieving people:
"Doesn't this bring all your pain back?"
"How can you do this work?"
Sometimes it takes more energy to avoid pain and the reality of death than it does to meet it head on.
Healthy grief work forces us to experience the pain and face the reality.
We all avoid this by telling other people, "I'm OK." We tend to take our frustrations out on other people, such as physicians, law enforcement or even our family support. We believe our suffering is greater than the mundane little everyday problems of everyone around us.
We dismiss problems people are dealing with, if those problems are unrelated to our loss.
Some of the details of my son's murder still haunt me, but I have mostly accepted the fact that the good Lord doesn't want me to have those facts - and I am at peace without knowing them. The very hardest fact about acceptance is when the reality hits and you are fully aware that your loved one is never coming back.
It was with heart-wrenching sobs that I finally accepted this, and I now know what the words "let go" mean.
With three homicides in Butler County in the past few months, the district attorney's office is dealing with many newly bereaved people.
My message to all of them is this:
"Remember, you are not alone, although you may feel that way."