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Coping With Grief as a Parent
You might have noticed my absence from the blog since Thanksgiving. I absently let my domain name expire and lost most of my old content so everything has a fresh new look now. I’ve been ‘here’ but primarily without the ability to put much into words or organized thoughts. Just surviving I think. That’s really all you are capable of when you are coping with grief as a parent.
It’s been 5 months now since my oldest son, Cole Ousley, passed away.
Devin Coleburn “Cole” Ousley 7/23/98 – 10/10/17
I think often about how I was basically raised in a funeral home. Close family friends owned a local mortuary and my grandparents whom raised me spent much time there, almost daily. The two of them were humorously known in their time to be the social butterflies of the obituary column. Needless to say, death is not new to me. I watched countless families bury their loved ones from the time I was school-aged.
I’ve also lost many loved ones in my own life, both close friends and my family. Perhaps that was part of the reason I always feared losing one of my children. Perhaps, though, it were the fact that Cole was a very sick child which gave me that fear. And then, I wonder sometimes if part of me somehow always knew that I would lose him too soon. The anxiety I always had about his well being was likely more than the typical helicopter parent.
There is still nothing that compares to pain of losing a child. I pray I never find anything else that compares. There are days during immense grief that you aren’t sure whether or not you are stuck in a nightmare. Those days far outweigh the days that seem real to me.
After losing Cole I was offered a position locally in the mental health field working with at risk young adults similar to him. I prayed about it for quite some time and finally felt led to take the job. I truly love my work although there are days that it still feels impossible to get out of bed. It certainly doesn’t hurt matters any that I work with a Therapist and Case Worker who is also earning her masters degree.
I suppose I’m coping well. Or perhaps I’m not coping at all? I seem to be able to discuss my experiences in the professional field quite easily now but I also admit that most days I try to pretend that my son has simply moved away to college or is away at his father’s house for a few days. After 3 or 4 days of that act, the usual amount of time he’d be away from home at a time, I come crashing down again and the realization that he isn’t ever coming home is fresh and brand new again. It overwhelms me and I can’t seem to find any air. It’s dark and consuming.
Complete text of the NIV, the world’s most popular modern-English Bible
• Daily devotions written for and by those who have experienced the loss of a loved one or who are helping a loved one through extended terminal illness
• A prayer appendix featuring 52 prayers based on the book of Psalms
• Short reflections and song lyrics for meditation
• Resources page containing information for those seeking additional help
I think those are just the typical waves of grief, though, if anything about losing a child can be typical. I can honestly say it’s just not natural for a child to pass on before their parents. There is a saying that goes, “Wives who lose their husbands are called widows. Husbands that lose their wives are called widowers. Children who lose their parents are called orphans. However, there is no word for parents who lose their children because nothing can describe that amount of pain.” It’s very accurate.
That led me to do some reading to find out if that saying is true and so far I’ve not found an appropriate word in any language just as many others have searched to no avail. There is a one word, however, that has been proposed: Vilomah.
It’s said to be Sanskrit in origin meaning ‘against the natural order’ which is precisely accurate. You can read about the proposed use in this article by Duke Professor Karla Holloway.
I am happy to be back to writing today. Getting thoughts out of my mind and into words has always been very therapeutic for me. I know that is supposedly a good sign as far the grieving process goes, too, although I’ve learned so far that grief as a parent isn’t something that can be conquered.
Continued prayers are always appreciated. God Bless.