Hello EricsHouse Community:
Like everyone else in the world, my family and I are hunkering down, quarantined in our home. As hard as that is, we find fun things to do with people we love. On July 4th, I got one more year older. Ouch! It makes it easy for everyone to remember my birthday, and there is always a reason to celebrate. We usually choose between two different activities – the first is to rent a Casita at a local Hilton with a Lazy River Water Park, so we can stay cool by floating down a river in the middle of the desert. Our second option is to head north to the cool Arizona pines and celebrate with a home-cooked meal, a game of horseshoes, and a nap in the hammock. Either option makes me happy!
This year, however, we are quarantined. We cooked our usual birthday feast – slow-cooked ribs, home-made coleslaw, baked beans, summer corn, and instead of a cake, my husband Greg has baked my favorite pie – coconut cream. And while we couldn’t be with those we love, we were with them online for a game of bingo, we shared health updates, talked about summer plans, and celebrated the day our country declared its independence from Great Britain.
I am lucky to be married to my husband, Greg. Although we struggled after the loss of our son Eric, we made it through. To be honest, at times, I was not sure I could stay in our marriage. He was not grieving the way I was grieving. I know that he felt the same way. He could not fix me. So many marriages do not survive the suicide or a substance loss of a child. There is a wilderness to walk through, and many cannot walk through it together.
Greg did an interview for EricsHouse the other day. He told his truth about what grief was like for him after Eric died. What it was like for him to watch his wife’s world turn upside down, what it was like for him to see his wife fall into the depths of grief with seemingly no way to help her. What it was like for him to sort through a plethora of confusing emotions, what it was like for him to appear strong, to wish his pain, sorrow, and regrets away. After a long struggle, we finally figured out that it was OK – it was OK for him to grieve his way . . . and it was OK for me to grieve my way.
I personally hate the stereotypes when it comes to grief and loss. It doesn’t seem right to put all men into one group, and all women into another. Grief is such a sacred, unique experience, and each of us grieves and mourns in our unique way. However, as Thomas R. Golden says in his book “Swallowed by a Snake – The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing,” it is helpful to find the balance between your masculine and feminine energies as you follow your own path toward healing. I often ask our clients to respect and honor how they feel and release themselves of self-judgment about the “right” or “wrong” way to do grief. You are always exactly where you should be on your journey.
For me, in the midst of my anger, helplessness, guilt, sadness, and sorrows – the chaos, confusion, and tears – I learned to respect my journey. But I did not respect Greg’s. Looking back, once we accepted our own unique approaches to our sadness, we learned to respect each other’s journey. We let each other be where we are. That the only way toward hope, joy, and happiness is to walk through the wilderness – together and alone at times.
I hate the old cliché – “time heals all wounds". These wounds don’t heal. There will always be an emptiness in our hearts. You move forward with this sadness. It becomes a part of you. But as time goes by, you gain understanding, acceptance, strength – and those virtues bring hope. Be infinitely patient and just know that you will heal, and it will happen when you are ready. You will be with the people that you love and support you, even in the direst circumstances.
Founder, EricsHouse Inc.