Work and Grief

A friend of mine that lost her son shortly after I lost mine has been going through total heck at work. She was only given two weeks leave after the passing of her only son. Since she has been back to work, there are days where she has had to call in because grief had consumed her to the point that she could not get out of the bed. She has decided to leave her job after one too many inconsiderate write-ups over her actions. T (as I will call her) asked if I would help write her resignation letter for her. She thought I could help her put into words exactly what grief has done to her. Us. And all the mourning parents.

The request had me thinking of the best thing to say. How to exactly describe what we go through. How do you explain to someone that has never lost a child what it feels like to have a piece of your soul lost forever? How do explain how your heart never will beat the same way it used to? How do you let them know that grief does not pick non-business hours to rear its ugly head? I do not think there is any way to really get the full impact of having so much of your life disappear in the blink of an eye. Sure we may have been fine when we left work on Tuesday. But the dream we had that night of our child made us wake up thinking that he was just down the hall in his bed. And then realizing we woke from our dream to the nightmare of reality. Yes we were just fine when we left for lunch. But while in the car at the drive-thru our child’s favorite song came on the radio, leaving us crying hysterically and cars honking their horns at us. Then there are birthdays, holidays, anniversaries of death and life. What about the sadness we feel when our child’s friends accomplish all the things he should be here for? We not only grieve the past and present but also the lost future. We will grieve when we see our friends with their grandchildren we were robbed of. We will grieve when we watch his best friend walk down the aisle without our son as his best man. We will grieve every empty space at the dinner table, the empty stocking, the quiet nights, the missing sound of laughter and all the messy messes that we desperately miss.

How do you put a time on how much work you can miss after the loss of a child? When you give birth you are given at least six weeks maternity leave. They even give the same amount to Fathers now! But only to receive two weeks bereavement time to mourn the loss of 19 years worth of hopes and dreams? It takes two weeks just to come out of the shock and fog! There is no textbook example of grief time because no one person grieves the same as another. Some can handle day to day routines like before with a hard exterior. Some will crack in public over random thoughts. Some will never get on with life. Some will tackle life and grieve quietly in the inside. I guess I was lucky that I did not have to return to any sort of job after I lost my son. I never really sat back and thought about the pain and hardship that my son’s Father, his Bonus Mom or my Husband felt. So how do I try and help her explain this to her employers? There is no possible way for them to understand shy of them losing their own child. And there is no way I would ever wish this torturous pain on anyone…


Dear Jeff,

Dear Jeff,
We are on the eve of our 10th wedding anniversary. 10 years! I think it is safe to say we beat the odds people gave us in the beginning. 15 years total to all the ones that doubted.
When you think about it, it says a lot of our love for each other as to how we did make it this far. We have been through things that most couples never experience or could even fathom. We have been broke, jobless, medical issues, teenage years with the kids, issues of the heart, family drama, issues of self and worst of all the loss of a child. Looking at all the statistics we have beat all odds that said we should have divorced multiple times. But through it all we know at the end of the day that the morning means nothing without each other. We can face anything that is thrown our way. We may not handle it the best way, say things that make each other mad or cry, or truthfully make us want to smack some sense into the other. But in the end, we handle it our way and go from evil looks to smiles and laughter.
The past 19 months have been the real test of us. Even after the loss, we have been thrown things that just seem unfair for us to have to even entertain our already burdened souls with. Sometimes I think God gives us these trials to show others how to stand next to each other with your head high even when you want to get under the covers and not face the day. While walking our enormously large and clumsy puppy this morning, I was thinking about tomorrow. The plans we had made didn’t work out like we wanted. We made other plans instead and didn’t even get disappointed. Rolled with even more punches. And then, while Maggie Moose was doing her large pile of stinky business,  I saw it. Right there on the septic clean out pipe. A tall dandelion standing strongly beside it with a slightly shorter broken one next it. It made me think of us for two reasons. You the tall strong one and me the broken damaged one being held up by you. Many times you have had to hold me up and keep me from falling into despair and self-pity.  Many times I have leaned on you for guidance on how to get out of life’s mud pits.
The other reason is simply, out of all life’s crap, beauty will grow. It made me think of Robert`s words on joy and happiness. We may not always have happiness in our life but we should always find the joy. So in the spot where all the crap goes, a beautiful symbol of us grew. Today’s joy was from two flowers, one tall and strong, one slightly broken, found while letting the dog poo.
I cherish the years we have had. I look forward to the years to come. We can handle the joys and heartaches thrown at us as long as we look for the flower in the poop! I love you every day!
Your wife,