5 min read
Talking about grief is very painful and sometimes we have no one to talk to.
In March of 2020, my dear son Jacob unexpectedly passed away at age 24. I carry the grief constantly. I have the additional anguish of being unable to talk about my feelings with others.
For those of us who have lost a child, talking about our feelings of grief is very painful. It’s often harder for us because sometimes we have no one to talk to.
Some months after Jacob passed away, I spoke with a grief therapist once a week. It was helpful for around six weeks. We spoke about meditation, sleep issues, and imagery to help me cope. The summary of our sessions was that it’s going to take a very long time for me to deal with my loss. There’s no way around it. It seemed that our meetings hit a plateau and things just weren’t going anywhere.
I learned that grief therapy is not grief support. The purpose of the grief therapy sessions was to help me change my behavior and how I react to the reality of living without my child. The purpose of grief support is to help me cope with my loss for the long term, a loss that will never go away. That’s where I headed next.
I participate in a grief support group and it’s very helpful. Everyone in this group had a child who passed away as a young adult. Since we’re all in the same boat, we feel comfortable talking with one another. The moderator offers good insights and keeps the conversation going. We meet every two weeks.
Problem is, my grief doesn’t go on hold for two weeks. Even now, a year after Jacob’s passing, I still need to vent my feelings of sadness and frustration. Who do I talk to between group sessions?
Sometimes those closest to us may not be the best people to help us cope with our grief. If a person hasn’t experienced the pain of losing a child, it’s hard for them to relate to feelings of irretrievable loss.
I have dear friends who are simply uncomfortable talking about Jacob. They have known our family for many years and knew Jacob as a child. I think they are so concerned about causing me pain that they don’t want to bring up the subject of his dying for fear it will make me sad, or perhaps even offend me. I’d like to talk to them about Jacob, but I won’t. I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable.
People ask me how I’m doing. How do they think I’m doing? I don’t want to get people feeling down, so I smile, talk about how my day is going, and make small talk. But really, my mind is on Jacob. I think about him from the time I wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night. When I’m concentrating on a specific task, I don’t think about him. But once I'm done, my mind goes right back to Jacob.
And then there are the few family friends with whom I can talk about Jacob, but they focus on their own feelings, not mine. When I begin to speak about him they tell me how miserable they feel, how terrible it all is. I need to comfort them. They mean well. They care. They just don’t give me anything I can work with to feel better.
It seems the only one who really wants to talk with me about Jacob is God. He’s always there for me. He’s never too busy to listen to my complaints and crying. My child is His child, and He feels my loss. He talks to me too, and if I listen, I can hear him. It’s not like I hear voices or anything. It’s just that sometimes, some comforting thought pops into my head. I know He put that thought in there.
Sometimes I vent my frustrations and cry, as I pour out my heart to Him. I can talk to Him like I would talk to a friend or a parent. After all, He is our Heavenly Father.
We are all mourners. During this period of the Three Weeks leading up to Tisha B'Av, I grieve with other Jews over the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. After so many thousands of years of grief, what can I say to God? What can I add to the prayers of all those who came before me? I tell Him I care. I beg Him please bring our Temple back. I tell Him I’ll try to be a better person, a better Jew. Sometimes I wonder if God is saying, “Oh yeah, it’s her again. I’ve heard it before.”
Sometimes I just don’t know what to say. But God knows what’s in my head and heart. "God, I want to talk to you, I just don’t know what to say.” My reaching out to God, even without saying anything, shows that I haven’t forgotten about Him. And I know He hasn’t forgotten about me.
So we sit there in silence, like two intimate friends who don't feel the need to fill the space with noise.