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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The Timed Release Grief Time Bomb
I pride myself on this blog being as honest a place as possible. It's important that in taking the time to share a windows view of how we go on, how we have survived following Daniel's passing, that we look at the pitfalls as well as the triumphs. In total, I think we have done as well as anyone could when our youngest family member was called to Heaven two and a half years ago, with no warning. I had thought that our entire remaining family was doing well for a number of reasons. First, we have been gentle and nurturing with them. We have been understanding. We have each been busy and have found outlets for our energies individually and constructively. We share a common and a living faith. They all seemed to be doing well and moving forward in their lives, and mentioning Daniel appropriately with laughter and happiness, when something is mentioned that reminds us of him. Lastly, James coming to us through adoption was a reminder that life on Earth must go on, and we must swim through the life which remains here and begin new chapters in our lives.
Last night we learned we have some chinks in the armor. What started at dinner on a hot humid evening, as a family meeting where my husband reinforced some of our family and house rules. Things are changing here. As the college graduates begin to get jobs, and the college attendee balances a new job and college, the chores are not being done. The reasonable rents we require from the working kids are not all being paid. There is also some back biting and bickering too. As James makes progress in adapting to our family, our "normal kids" have backslid, and we are seeing much younger behaviors much of which we did not see when they were teenagers. My husband began setting out the law and his observations. Some of the adult kids responded by talking back. The interaction ended with his losing his temper, which probably scared James and certainly scared the cat. It's also a departure for my husband, who is normally pretty even tempered. In short, everyone overreacted, leaving me to wonder what is going on with my formerly healthy family. It did not take long to realize that this is about grief. The kids have moved headlong into the world with the knowledge that life is short and limited. They are coping by being busy and by living lives busy enough for themselves, AND in a sense, for Daniel too. A changing economy and challenges in the workplace do not always help. They resent being reminded that even rational chores still need to be done......WHEREVER they live. Secondly, there IS apparently some resentment of James. He IS special to us. He did become a family member and he carved out his own slot, not Daniel's. They may resent that he is a valued family member, and as the only "child" under 18 here now, he does get some special considerations. Third, last night I realized something after my husband cried afterward. I have had the luxury in the past two and a half years of exploring my sorrow and my grief in terms of journaling, this blog, and my activities with grieving families. He has continued to earn a living and has not had such outlets, even though he has denied needing them. We do go to therapy, but it is therapy designed to support and encourage the placement of James in our home and to anticipate and understand difficulties which ordinarily arise. My husband is apparently not only struggling with missing Daniel, but also with the idea that three of his children have grown and that he can't really talk to them dictatorially as he might have when they were younger. Certainly, he must convey that this is our home, and that we are not a place to be used as a flop house, while being disconnected from the rest of the family who lives here. They have responsibilities. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that they have grown up. Sadly, I think my husband feels like he missed a part of their growing up. He is apparently dealing with Daniel's loss and feeling that his children grew up and became adults while he wasn't looking. How we can both feel and be fairly young, and have twenty-something children is not only unfathomable to him, but sometimes also to me. It seems that grief is something large, that we incur, and we must "pay through" it somehow. For each person, the "bill" is different. For me, it has been a combination of tears, dreams, and good works with families who have lost children to similar issues. It may not be the same for my husband. How he "pays through" his own grief will be different for him, and for each member of our family. There is also anger, and it is not necessarily directed at each other. There may be anger that they remain here to live a life while Daniel was somehow spared. Other times, they may feel guilty for surviving their serious chronic illnesses, while Daniel succumbed to something that was completely unknown to us. Sometimes shifting gears in this life is so difficult So, we have some work to do here. I'll let you know how it goes.