Sharing my mourning journey as my family learns to live a new normal after the death of my 19 y.o. son in an auto accident on 10/12/08.

Out in the World

Relationships are eternal

Beautiful days hurt. The sky is so clear; the weather is warm but carries the vestiges of fall. So beautiful it’s almost perfect. The kind of day that makes you feel like you should be outside enjoying these last warm days, feeling the sun on your face. I try to get out everyday but I don’t always succeed. Sometimes, I don’t make it farther than my front porch but I know the sun on my face is a healing power. The warmth and light that will help keep depression at bay.

Everyday is not a bad day. There are days when I can leave the house feeling okay. I’ve put on clothes that make me feel good about myself, a little make-up and have a hopeful energy that propels me out the door.  On other days no matter how I feel I have to leave the house because of meetings with the kids’ teachers, going to the grocery store, doctor appointments, etc. Even on some of these days I’ll look put together. Nothing about my appearance suggests that inside there is sorrow bubbling under the surface. I met a friend for lunch on one of my put together days. She commented on my outfit and how nice I looked. My response to her was “smoke and mirrors”. I told her that I learned after battling for years with lupus that if you look okay people assume you are okay. Smoke and mirrors are my protective armor against the pitying looks accompanied by the singsong “How are you” you get in a small community when everyone knows your world has crumbled but some don’t want to get too close to the pain for fear it might be catching. Smoke and mirrors however only help for a little while. There comes a point when the sadness in my eyes and the way my mouth unbeknownst to me is downturned into a pout/grimace override any appearance tricks. I have the look of frailty and vulnerability.

I told a dear friend Tom , who has suffered tremendous loss -yet lives a life of hope that includes joy- about my dilemma. I told him I wish our society still allowed public mourning and was more comfortable with death. Joan Didion in her book,”The Year Of Magical Thinking quotes Geoffrey Gorer who in his 1965 book Death, Grief and Mourning describes our society’s rejection of public mourning and “gives social admiration to the bereaved who hide their grief so fully that no one would guess anything had happened.” This is the world we live in, wearing mourning clothes are no longer in vogue and yet there needs to be some way the world can know when they are dealing with a person fragile from the forces of losing a loved one. There are t-shirts and wristbands for everything else; mourning should get its own special dispensation. I need a way for the world to know on my truly frail days to please be gentle with me I’m grieving and my heart is so heavy. For me gentle means not staring if you know me and aren’t going to say hello, it means patiently allowing me the extra time it sometimes takes to find my wallet or give the correct amount of money because my hands are shaking, not taking offense if I don’t say hello, especially if I have a far off distant look. I’m learning that there is no timeline on grief and that what I ask of the world I have to respectfully ask of myself. Be gentle, don’t rush, someone precious has been lost. Jackie, be good to yourself.

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Comments on: "Out in the World" (4)

  1. Dear Jackie, I have always been amazed at your willingness to walk smack into the center of your overwhelming pain, sorrow and sadnes … and then find the words to describe it all. To illuminate the experience. Such courage. You are a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing at such a deep level. I, too, know “The Chime Ache.” My son is dead. My son is dead. My son is dead. It’s as if we need to be convinced that the impossible is indeed possible. How can it be? Yet it is. Your words validate my own expereince…and i don’t feel as alone in it all. Love to you, Mark and the kids! Tom Zuba

  2. Debra Gardner said:

    Thank you Jackie for sharing your heart. You were always an excellent writer. I feel like I’m experiencing this with you as you so vividly detail your pain, grief and journey. Truly no one can be in your shoes but you have a gift that makes your readers heart ache with you and tears stream like rivers of rippling water. Keep on pouring out your heart because as you do God will fill it with good things: love, joy, and peace. I love you! Debbie-Deb

  3. Jackie,
    You are a beautiful spirit that this world needs. I am so moved by the sharing of your heart’s ache. Your ability to express your feelings in words is a wonderful living tribute to the beauty of your son and his spirit. Please keep writing as your words have healing power that go far beyond the realm you can imagine… God is truly in this process. Trust and believe. The planet was blessed with the presence of Jordan for 19 short, yet well-lived years. It is always a tragedy for a parent to bury a child, yet thank God, he did live! As a parent I am forever grateful that God allowed me to be the vessel he chose to bring forth these amazing spirits and I try to cherish whatever length of time they are on loan to me. ***I also love your idea of some sort of sign to express grief in public. I think that is brilliant! I imagine a black band that can be worn (like the LIVE-STRONG yellow bands) and only the wearer can determine the duration of the statement. Somehow I really believe that you may end up on Oprah expressing that idea among others. Keep writing. Love you, Katani

  4. Beverly Lyles said:

    I read this again tonight. As much as it hurts to read your words, I am so moved by your expressions. I feel that I am part of an amazing process. The notion of a symbol of bereavement really struck me as well.
    “This is the world we live in, wearing mourning clothes are no longer in vogue and yet there needs to be some way the world can know when they are dealing with a person fragile from the forces of losing a loved one. There are t-shirts and wristbands for everything else; mourning should get its own special dispensation. I need a way for the world to know on my truly frail days to please be gentle with me I’m grieving and my heart is so heavy.”
    I felt so much of this when mu baby brother and best friend slipped away and into the world of schizophrenia. While he remained here in the physical, his anguish and suffering were, at times, unbearable to watch. I felt helpless and lost. The brother of great humor, athletic prowess, model good looks, and deep intellect was gone. Left in its place, was a young man , crying and afraid of what was happening to him , helpless, and sick from medication. I grieved for years but there was no eway to tell the world to back off, I just put probated my brother into a mental institution. Be gentle with me.

    I think about that pain Jackie, and I just have to cry because I know no matter how much that hurt then, and still hurts now, my brother is still here..and then I think of you and I think of Jordan, and it just takes my breath away sometimes. I just cant tell you enough how very sorry I am. Still, I know Jackie, that you are a miracle unfolding and that your life will have color again.
    Bev

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