Someone told me yesterday that I need to “find a way to cope.” I thought that’s what I was doing? I get up every morning. I shower. I care for my three babies on earth. I cook. I clean. I breathe. I thought that’s what I was supposed to be doing?
I am broken, there is no denying that. But I was broken a long time before I lost Owen. I’ve been broken since I started my battle with depression back in middle school. Hell, you could say I’ve been broken since Eve eat the apple. I have accepted my cracks, and missing pieces though. I am ok with who I am. I don’ t feel like I need to be ‘fixed.’ I wouldn’t be who I am without my flaws, shortcomings or pain. I’m like the ragged, torn baby blanket that’s been dragged through the dirt. Some might think you should patch the holes, wash the dirt out or even get a new blanket. But not me. The tares, rips and dirt make the blanket real. It shows that the blanket ‘lived’ and was loved.
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You
become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
— Margery Williams Bianco (The Velveteen Rabbit)
I’m not trying to preach. Don’t misunderstand – I don’t think that I am perfect. I am FAR FAR FAR from that. I have improving to do. I have changes to make in myself. But I accept myself for who I am. I don’t need to change to be accepted or to be loved. I change as self improvement. For strength, for the sake of learning.
I seek the understanding of why I am the way I am. To understand the “why.” Why do I respond this way? Why does this make me cry? Why am I crabby? Not that it’s wrong that I am crabby. The way you feel is never wrong, only the way you respond to those feelings can be wrong. I ask what is the cause of my crabbiness? Let’s attack that, let’s work on that. Then the crabbiness will cease to exist.
So when you tell me I need to find a way to cope, what do you mean? Are you saying that the pain part of me is wrong? I shouldn’t embrace it? It’s not ok to be emotional or need a little TLC? Are you telling me that I’m doing it wrong? Coping wrong? Is there a ‘right’ way to cope the loss of a child? Am I no longer acceptable to you?
So yes, treat me differently, but don’t treat me like I’m broken. Sure I have another crack in my shell, but I’m still me. I’m all of me. Share with me like you would before. Let me hear what you feel, but don’t expect the same response you would have gotten before. I’m not the same person you once knew. I am me. Ever changing, ever growing, ever hurting. I’m coping the best way I know how.
Yes, yes you are coping the best way you know how. And I’m very proud of you!
Good for you!!!! I agree with you on this. Sometimes people feel that if we do not do things their way then it is wrong…. I think you are doing a great job “coping” The fact that you can spill your heart out into words speaks for your level of coping ability. I sometimes wonder if people expect us to forget…. News for them Owen will NEVER be forgotten. He is forever a part of you…. of many people who have never met him. Wishing you the best of luck in dealing with other peoples criticism.
Thank you so much for this post! My son passed away April 1st and this is exactly how I feel. I have a friend who called me a month or so after my son passed away and when she asked how I was doing I told her that it was so hard to which she replied that she was hoping that I’d be “better” by now. Some people need a cuff upside the head. Needless to say she has no children of her own so she can’t even begin to imagine the pain. I love the last few lines that you wrote ” Let me hear what you feel, but don’t expect the same response you would have gotten before. I’m not the same person you once knew. I am me. Ever changing, ever growing, ever hurting. I’m coping the best way I know how.” It’s sad that on top of dealing with the pain and trauma that comes from losing a child, we have to deal with everything that comes with that, such as people that have absolutely NO clue how deep the pain is. Thinking of you.
I can’t agree more!!! I have had depression since I was a little girl- it has made me stronger and it is a part of me- counseling has helped and occasionally been a necessity but the idea of being “fixed” upsets me, I’m not sure I was ever broken. Love the passage from the Velveteen Rabbit- I tried reading that to my toddler and just sobbed through it. I don’t think you’re broken and need to be fixed- you’re grieving. Grief can be really uncomfortable for others, but at the end of the day that’s too bad- it’s human and required during these tough times- so just keep being you and everyone else will just have to deal. That’s how I think of it anyway.
Well said! I have also suffered with depression, and am now learning that my feelings are ok but what I do with them is what I need to work on. I can’t believe someone told you that you weren’t coping, I don’t know you personally but follow your blog and your heartfelt words portray just how you are “coping”, through your gift of eloquence with words, which is a true expression of your heart. I love your admission of being broken but not in need of repair! That is something I’ve come to accept about myself lately…I’m happily broken at the foot of the cross!
You and your family are in my prayers on a daily basis, your story has touched my heart just as your blog does everytime I read it!
As always, I cried when I read this. No, I have not lost a child, but still, I can relate to this in so many facets of my own life. We all cope in different ways. You are doing the best you can and screw everyone else who needs to critique you and say you are wrong. People mean well, but often their thoughts and comments are hurtful and not helpful. Find those that make the helpful, supportive comments and keep them close. You will heal, it will take lots of time (I imagine), but that is ok. You are loved by many and you will be ok…
Oh my goodness Mel –
you have such a beautiful way of writing, a true gift from God. I was looking up some information about some of the speakers/performers at the upcoming women of faith conference and came upon this video. One of the speakers is the wife of a members of the band. I listened to this song and swear I have heard the same words in your past blogs.
Wow. I’m sitting int car reading this before work and am brought to tears. I absolutely love that book and forgot about that particular message. I can relate Melissa. You are not broken. Your life has been enriched by your experiences albeit tough. I adore your entertaining musings. You are a woman of much wisdom!
That is what is so hard with loss, that no two people handle it the same. Then people who dont handle it the same way they do think that we are “wrong.” Frustrating. I lost my Mom 5 yrs ago and my Dad is doing well but people are always asking if he is dating yet….He doesnt want to. My Mom was his everything. And although he doesnt spend his days wallowing in his pity he doesnt want to let her go either. Even my own brother criticizes the fact that he hasnt “moved on.” Just because so and so started dating months after their wife passed doesnt mean that works for all. I know this is not the same as what you are experiencing but I hope you get the jist of what I am trying to say. You are you and I am me. We could be the best of friends, and still not feel the same when tragedy strikes. Never forget that you are allowed to feel whatever it is your feeling today and not have to explain or defend that to ANYONE.
Mel-you are far from being “broken”. You are coping with everything the best you can and in your own way and that’s all you can do. It makes me mad to hear what that person said…I don’t know you personally, but I read your blog daily and it made me mad just the same. Who are they to tell you how you should be coping? I’d tell them to stuff it and mind their own business…course, I don’t know who they are in relation to you, but I’d still want to tell them that anyway 🙂 I love the book Velveteen Rabbit…it was my favorite when I was little and now my 3 yr old loves it too! Sending you virtual ((((hugs))), thoughts & prayers!
Just like in the Velveteen Rabit… “… except to people who don’t understand.” Whoever told you this doesn’t understand. Not many of us do understand the pain of losing a child, but some are more… what’s the word I’m looking for… sympathetic. I’m sorry that someone made you feel that you were coping “wrong” because there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do that. Please hang in there and keep doing what you are doing… it’s getting you through. We are proud of you and most of all, so is your Owen!
There is no “right” way to feel stuff. We all feel joy, sadness, grief, excitement in different ways and we all show it in different ways. You are “coping” just fine. I hate that word anyway. What does that even mean. We went through a difficult two years of having three miscarriages and losing our 21 week son. Coping meant getting out of bed and being a mom to the child I had when all I wanted to do was never wake up again. Coping meant allowing myself to laugh without feeling guilty every time. And now that we are years from that time, there is still pain. You “cope” any way you want to and if people don’t like it, they can just kiss off. Love and prayers from Lake Jackson, TX
Great perspective. Perfect is boring. There is no manual that instructs you how to “cope” You do what your gut says and go with it. You impress me every time I read your posts.
Until someone has lost a child they don’t know. It’s a hurt that no one can image. It’s been almost 15 months for me and I still haven’t got over it. It’s not fair for someone to tell you that unless they have been there.
Shame on that person. You are coping. You are living your life and navigating your loss and pain the best way you know how. Just because they don’t agree with your strategies or feelings does not make their own ways the one true way to deal.
You are far from broken. Your heart is broken, you may feel broken, but you are still living and surviving, which means you are not fully broken. You are doing a fine job with your grief, and keep trying to heal. Thank you for sharing your heart-rendering journey with us…your readers are here to support you and lift you in prayer.
I just have one word – AMEN! I feel, just like many of the previous comments, that you are coping just the way that YOU are supposed to. There is no timetable for grief or instruction book for life. We all try to do the best we can with what we have and I have to say that from where I sit, you have done remarkably well. Well done Mel, you really are an inspiration for all.
As I read your blog tonight I can’t help but think…she needs to write a book! Owen and his story has touched so many people and you are the reason! Through this blog you have allowed each of us, your readers, to know Owen and his warrior spirit! But it has also been a story of your faith…reading about your faith in God through all of this has touched my heart and forced me to think about my own faith and how it could and should be stronger. Your story is one of tragedy and loss but more than anything it is a story of love, strength, faith, hope, and so much more!! A book is already here in this blog….it just needs published! Thank you for sharing!!
Of course you are you…and you are an amazing you.
Sheesh…I feel like I know you somehow. Like I have known you forever. Are we twins separated from birth? I mean, really! 🙂
Hey…I have another song for you…It is entitled Broken, as a matter of fact. My mom told me about it yesterday. Here is the You tube link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAjkRkF2yEs). The music isn’t my favorite but I LOVE the message.
I haven’t written but have been following since my friend Eliza posted this on her facebook. Anyone that says your not coping is nuts. The pain will lessen over time but a yearning will always be there. I nearly lost my dFIRSt daughter BUT I put my faith in God. That is what got me through it. You are so strong but at times it will hit and that is ok. Thank you fkor letting us be a part of your journey and letting us support you and you showing us what real strength can get you through.
I love this part of your post, “Let me hear what you feel, but don’t expect the same response you would have gotten before. I’m not the same person you once knew. I am me. Ever changing, ever growing, ever hurting. I’m coping the best way I know how.” I think its honest and right now that is what you need to be. But with that said, people need to be be honest with you to….I hope who ever said this to you said it with love and honesty in their heart. Who knows how long it takes to grieve, for some people it’s a month, a year…my grandmother has been gone 25 years and I still miss her..the ache is so deep, I’ve cried myself to sleep, very recently.
But that that being said…in your grief, I hope you realize that there is life to live and you have 3 beautiful boys and a husband, who are right beside you who need their mom, wife, best friend. They need to know that you rejoice in their lives and want to share each of their days. You want to laugh with them…run in the field with them, kiss and hold them and you are happy they are here. Please don’t let those boys ever think….”Owen was so good, so perfect, why am I here and he is gone. I should have been the one”. I’ve seen it happen…please, please, please cope the best way you can, you have EVERY right to take as long as you need, the pain, loss and sorrow will NEVER go away….
You are strong woman, you have faced so much in your life, please keep writing as I’m sure this is so helpful to you..and thank you for sharing, your words have helped so MANY people.
God bless you, keeping you in my prayers.
I have been following your blog since the beginning–when you were at CHW. My husband met your mother-in-law in the lobby that Sunday morning (May 22) by the placement of God’s hands. You (and your family) have been on our hearts & minds constantly. I have so much to say to you & hope to meet you one of these days (partially to give you a big squeeze), since we live in the area… but for now I’ll just respond to this post in particular.
There is one quote I have kept close to me for a few years now, that actually came out of the movie “The Last Kiss” – completely different context for what you are going through, but the words can be placed in any situation. I once had a person close to me who would tell me to “snap out of it” if I felt a certain way. That was impossible for me to do; I learned it is important to recognize your feelings & be able to work yourself out of them eventually. Kind of the like the random strangers that may tell you to smile, but don’t know what kind of day you’ve had. The quote: “What you feel only matters to you. It’s what you do to the people you love that counts!”
What you feel *is* important & nobody else knows exactly how you feel at times, so don’t try to bury feelings for anybody else. Nobody wants to see you in pain, but nobody should expect you to be pain-free either. People might not say the right things to you, but their actions show their true expressions. Keep those near & dear to you that *show* you they love you.
Love & blessings,
WOW that was really insenstive for someone to say that to you. Or for anyone to say to another person. I don’t have any kids, so I haven’t had to ‘cope’ with what you are coping with. But I have had my shares of things happen myself, as everyone in this world. I have been molested, raped, beaten, so of course I have problems. But we ALL cope the way we can, and what fits for us. You are so right on that blanket analogy. I am the way I am because of what I have been through. It either breaks me or makes me stronger. No one will ever know unless they have been through what you have been through. You are still there for your children, you are there for you husband, and we all have a different way of ‘coping’ with stuff. Like Jaclyn has said above if it isn’t their way, it’s the wrong way. You do what you need to do for you and your family. Because in reality you can’t make everyone happy. Just you and your family (husband and kids) Again writing your feelings out is your coping mechanism. So congrats to you and your strengths and don’t let anyone bring you down. You keep doing and going the way you have. Take care.
i think everyone grieves differently and in thier own time. this blog i hope is helping you as much as it is helping others who are listening to you, and finding what you say to be uplifting. Finding strength in your courage. Finding strength in God’s healing heart as you have found. Our oldest son knows your mom-in-law, and that is how we have come to know your story, i have not met her, but have chatted with her through emails and such. What a strong and loving family you have. Strong in compassion. EVERY time i see orange i think of your Owen. I was in the store yesterday and saw a woman with an orange shirt on and stopped myself from asking her if it was for Warrior Owen. I agree, you should write a book. your words flow so lovinging and strong for your Owen,your family and your belief in God’s grace. Your strength can spread….i wonder how much strength you have spread to others so far?
Naked honesty. It’s beautiful.
Melissa, you should look at Tanis’ blog, theredneckmommy.com. Her posting on 7/27/11 entitled “Love Harder” speaks volumes to what you are going though. Thinking of you and your family,