Losing An Adult Child

Question: Dear Luise: Today would have been my son’s 57th birthday. He’s been gone for 5 years and I still have some tough times. He was my firstborn and I wanted to do everything perfectly. I was too young to know that wasn’t possible. And he grew up expecting that of me long after I knew what a myth it was. We had rocky times but we also had many wonderful ones. Today I realized how much we tripped over each other’s expectations without really knowing they were there. It’s so hard to lose a child, even when he lived to be a grandfather. Can you help me with this? Mae

Answer: Dear Mae: You may have read elsewhere on this site that I lost a son who was grown. I can certainly relate. I’m not sure I can help but I will share my experience with you.

Certain days are triggers, for me. Dwight’s birthday is a huge one as is the day he died. Holidays take their toll and the “last” everything holds special significance for me. I remember the last telephone call, which was the Saturday before he died, the last Mother’s Day gift…a Big Hug Mug full of fresh daisies with a teddy bear wrapped around the handle and the last outing which was a tour of his place of employment just months before he left us.

Every year, it seems to me, these anniversaries get softer. I find them easier to pull out and look at or to get surprised by, if I’m not paying attention. My memories are just as clear but the blinding pain of recent loss doesn’t stay at the same intensity. It gets old and familiar and bearable.

When these times come I share them with others if that’s possible. I talk about my memories with family and friends. If there is no one to do that with, I’m not above writing a letter to Dwight about how I feel. I’m so connected when I’m writing that it’s usually a rewarding experience for me.

Over the years I have wanted him to show up in a dream and talk to me. He seems to have other things to do and other places to go…as is only fitting. But when I stop for a moment in my “busyness” and just think about him, I get the feeling that he comes for a while and sits with me. No words of wisdom…just a quiet, companionable time that I find deeply comforting.

My ways are no yours. I share them to let you know that my relationship with Dwight is still evolving. It’s not over. I would only suggest that you be open and willing to get that you, too, can go on together in some truly comforting way. Blessings, Luise

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