For the last six months, I have struggled with whether or not to give up this column. I love my relationship with you the readers. I am honored by your trust when you write with your life stories and ask advice. And I treasure being put in the position of teacher.
Being invited to share my thoughts and ideas by The Inquirer is something I have treasured for 15 years. But it is also hard work, time-consuming and sometimes stressful. So this may be my last column. And as of today, my thinking is no longer conflicted. The recent facts of my life helped clarify this decision for me.
It started as a minor chest cold in October. But with quadriplegics, chest colds are never minor. That's because we don't have the muscles needed to cough properly. So after a week of benign neglect, followed by two weeks of antibiotics, my condition continued to get worse.
Dan will not be hosting his weekly chat today.
We first met Trish on these pages in March of this year when she described how her husband Rick was in an automobile accident and paralyzed from the shoulders down needing extraordinary care. Contrary to doctors’ recommendations, she took him home instead of placing him in a nursing home. Now she works full time, cares for her husband and is raising their children.
In her first letter, she said she was angry at almost everybody. In addition to all of her jobs, she still had to battle with the health care system, nursing agencies and her insurance company. Trish had been in crisis mode for years and was exhausted but felt she had no options. Mostly she was worried about her ability to do all of her jobs effectively.
I recently heard from Trish again, but this time she is not just looking outside to understand her suffering.
Only read part of the article question from Trish about her son completing suicide and about some of her feelings, thoughts, actions to date. My heart goes out to her and i am so sorry that she is part of this fratermity where just try to live as "normally" as possible in a now very abnormal world. While there are differences in the way our precious children died and each person's grief is uniquely theirs, there are some things that we may well have in common.
Please reassure Trish, that I left Bruce's room the same way for many many yrs and only dusted surfaces. When I was able to, I took pictures of every inch of his room and then very slowly dissassembled his room. In a trunk are the sheets he slept on that I never washed. In my closet was the last towel he used...never washed. I carry a shirt he wore (it had his sent - like some of his sweaters) with me on every trip. All that she is doing, feeling,sensing is so very "normal." While it may not be for everyone, I am so happy you suggested Comp Friends. Paul and I were members for several years. It may not be for everyone and each at their own point may move away from the meetings for whatever their personal reason may be. Same for therapy. I was receptive; Paul and Marshall were not. I shopped very hard until I found someone who could work with the excruciating pain and the type of pain that is fortunately alien to more people than not. Acceptance of and respect for our different ways of grieving is of paramount importance as it takes it many shapes and forms. My belief becomes stronger, especially when a young sibling dies, that the siblings are the "lost grievers." People ask parents, grandparents etc how they are doing; oft times the surviving sibling(s) are left out of the verbal compassion and personal contact that is desparately needed. I am very sensitive to these siblings and when people ask me "what can I do/say to relatives and friends, I never fail to mention reaching out to the siblings whose loss/guilt/aloneness now abnormal world is just as profound as for parents.
I wish Trish and her family Gentle Moments and my hope is that they listen to their own internal drummer as they try to take steps forward. It does not get better; it just gets different.
Dan Gottlieb is chatting today about when parents lose a child. He will be joined by his guest Trish (see post below) who lost her son through suicide.
Recently our beloved son Kenny, just 19, ended his three-year struggle with depression by taking his life.
Despite the fact that it's been almost half a year, I think of him constantly. Memories of him flood my mind all day long, especially when songs come on the radio. I still cry because the music gets me. I think to myself, Kenny liked this song.
We go out to a restaurant and see something on the menu and I think Kenny would have liked this. We all do this, including my husband and my daughter.
I drive through town and see things that remind me of him. I go into his room and it still smells of him. I have the last outfit he wore and I haven’t washed his sheets. I go in there because it makes me feel sad and happy at the same time. It makes me feel close to him.
Can you please tell me if the pain will lessen? When does it stop, and when does it get easier? When is it ok to let go?
Dan will be joined for this chat by Dr. Molly Layton a Philadelphia based psychologist and family therapist who is a contributing editor to "Psychotherapy Networker" magazine.
They will talk about difficult relationships and other issues viewers want to discuss.