Four weeks ago today, my son died of cancer. Six weeks ago, my son was diagnosed with cancer. Seven weeks ago, cancer was something that impacted other families. Not our family. We are healthy!
Before all this, the only time anyone in my family had spent time in a hospital was when our 2 babies were born. My youngest, Julian, had never even had a need for antibiotics in his life. Until… cancer. Julian was diagnosed with leukemia on 2/16/11, and died 15 days later. That was four weeks ago.
Four weeks. One full cycle of the moon. An eternity, and a blink of an eye. How much grieving can happen in a month? How many tears can be shed? A lot. A whole lot. And how much can I read and learn about grief? Again, a whole lot.
I’ve devoured books, websites, and blogs. I’ve talked and talked… to my husband, my parents, my friends, and professionals. I’ve been seeking something, anything, to help me make sense of this and learn how to move forward.
In these four weeks of grieving and seeking, I’ve learned a few things that surprised me:
- The “5 stages of grief” aren’t applicable to me.
- Many books have been written about losing a child, but most are focused on the loss itself.
- I’m not so sure our culture wants us to move forward after such a loss.
Four weeks. I can’t believe it’s already been four weeks. And also, I can’t believe it’s only been four weeks. These were the first four weeks of the rest of my life. The first four weeks of the “after.”
So what comes next? What comes after the “after”?
April 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm
A couleague of yours passed on your blog to me. I lost my second son on 3-7-11 right after his birth on 2-27-11. Please email me if you ever want to talk. Sarah
April 2, 2011 at 7:43 pm
Sarah, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for the note.
April 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm
Emily, We’re keeping you in our thoughts. If you haven’t read Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking, I recommend it. She did a lot of research about grieving that she uses in the book.
April 2, 2011 at 7:42 pm
Hi Barb, I haven’t read that one yet. Thanks for the recommendation — it’s now on my reading list.
April 4, 2011 at 2:15 am
Emily, I just want to send you love and thoughts. You must also still be in deep shock from the speed and suddenness of Julian’s illness.
My nephew died suddenly (although he was 17) and my dear sister took a long time to find her way back from the loss of her only child. Eventually, though, she found her way back to the world but, although it’s a terrible cliche, it took time. She told me that the wound never closed and, each time she visited it, the pain was almost the same, but — over time — she visited it less. The good memories eventually completely crowded out the bad.
Love to you, Julie
Leanne (Trebilcock) Avila
April 5, 2011 at 10:46 am
This post resonated with me as someone once told me, “there is no closure… there is just what’s next.”
I wish there were easy answers.
June 22, 2011 at 11:25 am
Today is four weeks that my daughter passed to the same illness. She was eight months into treatment of ALL. I find your website to be very comforting and similar to our experience. I would like to reach you by email to tell you Our complete story.
June 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm
Kelly, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, but I’m glad you have found some comfort here on my blog. You can email me at creatingnewnormal(at)gmail.com
June 14, 2012 at 1:56 am
i dont know what to say, only that its gonna be 4 weeks on friday that i lost my baby boy. he was 20months old , he had a bad heart. i just feel sooo stuck. i ache for him all day everyday and dont know how to move on. i dont leave my home because everything is just a remindee of him. anyway my point being how can i do this. i know i cant stay stuck but how can i move on?
June 14, 2012 at 12:17 pm
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear your story. 20 months… you barely got to know him.
For me, the “ache” never goes away, but it does change from day to day. The “stuck” feeling, though, is what I started focusing on after the first 4 weeks.
As I write this, I’m now 15 months into my life without my youngest son, and I still have stuck moments/days now and then. Maybe I always will. But the thing that helped me the most was the conscious decision to *allow* myself to move forward. I realized I initially had a lot of guilt around the idea of getting un-stuck — as if a “good mom” shouldn’t WANT to get un-stuck!
But then I hit a point when I realized that no amount of suffering would ever bring him back… and if I focused my energy on getting un-stuck, I would be much more effective at honoring my son’s life in other, happier ways.
Another thing I’ve learned is that every bereaved parent’s journey is different, so what worked for me might not work for you. But I want you to know that you are not alone, and life will get easier over time.
I wish you the best on your own journey. Thank you for commenting on my blog.
June 10, 2013 at 10:20 pm
I can’t explain why, but tonight I came upon a Facebook post from Melissa Rach about her daughter being given the award named for your son. I was curious enough to find my way to your blog. What a wonderful way to honor your little boy and what a gift for any parent to come across these thoughts.
May 20, 2015 at 1:36 am
On 13th april 2015, my 24 year old son Kennedy died. . Five weeks have now passed been. Moving foward seems to be impossible. I hope sharing on this blog will help.