I am used to time being marked by monthly intervals.
During my residency we rotated monthly working in different parts of the hospital. My pregnancies were a monthly countdown to the big day. Even now in my work with office schedule loads and call responsibilities, all are managed on monthly calendars. (January and February are the worst and longest months for us pediatricians!)
Now I will be marking time since Nolan’s passing in years, not months. I can’t control time marching on and I really don’t want to.
My friend Amy also lost her son at age 16. He did not die by suicide. He passed away two months after Nolan. We grieved together for a while and during our first year grieving our sons, a person who has grieved the loss of their child for many years told us that the second year is harder than the first.
Amy and I looked at each other and said “OH HELL NO!!” (I tamed this down – I said much harsher words)
Don’t tell me that my nightmare of the first year is followed by a harder second year!!!
God – I don’t have the strength for that.
Yet time continues on and I am strong and going on with my life.
Grief is individual. Ebbing and flowing. Gentle and turbulent. Quiet then madly overtaking and all-encompassing hard.
Is the second year harder? In some ways yes.
- Life continue on. Which is good. We all need that. It’s just that life expects you to go back to normal. Pre-trauma/loss/grief normal. But there’s a new normal and you are a changed person and you can’t think and do things like before.
- The first year people acknowledge your loss. They hug you, ask how you are doing, they talk about you child. Now there is little mention of Nolan. When I bring him up I find some people get uncomfortable. Look – he still is my son. I still want to talk about him.
- Holidays, anniversary, birthdays are really hard. There is little to look forward to because you have an empty spot, a hole in you heart that you can’t fill.
- I am more tired. My body aches. I believe I am more tired because I am back to my professional life – its expectations and mental demands – yet I have the underlying grief that I need to acknowledge. Some days are an emotional marathon. If only grief and its mental exercises would burn calories!
- In the first year it’s all new. Then the next year shows all the same milestones and he is still gone. I didn’t think I could miss him more but I really do. That is how I would describe the second year — intense missing.
I fall into moods where all I can think about is the pain of missing him.
I look at his prayer card — “Remember mom – miss me, but let me go.”
I am trying.
Thank you to my family and friends – you have held me up at my lowest, made me laugh, made me smile, cried with me, and gave me time when I needed to be alone. I am very blessed.