Coping With Multiple Losses: A Mother's Story
by Cheryline Lawson
Losing a loved one is like having the rug swept from under you. I should know because I lost four family members in a seven-year period. The tragedy never goes away. You just learn how to cope with it and keep moving on.
The first to go was my only child who was two years old at the time. I left him with his babysitter and came back home to find out that he had drowned in a lake nearby. I wrote the entire story about it at www.coping-with-grief.com along with a sample chapter. You really never get over the loss of a loved one. You just try very hard to get on with your life.
The second family loss was my stepfather who, believe it or not, drowned in the same lake eleven months after the death of my son. His body was never found and my mother has never had any closure because there was no body to bury. In fact, she watched the entire incident unfold before her and was helpless to save him. I am sure she has a lot of guilt today.
Two years later, my maternal grandmother suddenly got ill and was rushed to the hospital where she died two days later. The cause of her death was cancer, which was a family secret that I was not privy to until her death. It was heartbreaking for me because I hadn't seen her in five years and wasn't able to say goodbye. It was also difficult for my mother who was still grieving for her husband.
Four years later the tragedy of losing my only sister and my mother's baby daughter by a car accident took a toll on all of us. We were all in shock. It seemed unreasonable for a family to have to endure so much. My mother had to be put on tranquilizers because she was having a hard time coping. It was just too much for her to bear. I had to take over all the funeral arrangements and caring for my sister's three remaining children.
There is no way I could have done all I did without being in the denial stage of grief. I went through the motions, but I did not believe any of it. I kept my feelings in check because I didn't want to upset my mother any more. I also went through the guilt state of wishing that I were the one who died instead of my sister. I felt guilty for being the one who was still alive. I wasn't able to deal with my feelings right away because I was thinking more about how to comfort my mother. I had the experience of losing a child so I knew how empty she felt, but the pain of losing my sister ignited the pain I felt for my son and I could not find the right words to say to encourage her.
How do you tell your mother you are sorry that she lost her child who is your sister, but you wished it had been you instead? It seemed so selfish for me to be thinking that way, but when you are grieving, self-pity is one of the emotions that surface and the shock will create irrational thoughts especially when you have gone through so much like I had.
As I am relating my story to you about what happened to me in a seven-year period, it appears unbelievable and I really would not have imagined that I would still be sane today, but I am. This means that you too can get through your grief and your loss. Time is a good healer, but family is the greatest support that you can ever have.
My family and I stayed close throughout the whole ordeal. We realized that our experience would allow us to reach out to others and make a difference in the life of others who may still be grieving or have just lost a loved one. Don't ever give up hope. Keep on living and you will be healed of your grief, but remember to stay close to your family in the process.
Cheryline Lawson is the mother who has been on an emotional journey of losing her only child and has written a book titled, Coping with Grief, and is giving proceeds of the book back to a support group that is helping grieving families. Find out more about how you can help by visiting her website at http://www.coping-with-grief.com.
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