Sunday, December 30, 2012

Help for the Wounded Heart

When we lost Joey, I found myself in a very lonely place. I had been blogging Joey's life to dispel some of my grief, and began to search the blog world for others who would understand. Blogging was still relatively new at that time, and so it was not such an easy thing to find others. About a year into my journey,  I was blessed, through a chain of discovery, to find three other women with whom I instantly identified. These women, whose beliefs overlapped my own, seemed to feel my same pain,  and I could count on them to regularly express their grief in ways that were healing to me. They were able to help me sort out the internal chaos that accompanied the loss of my son. It was a priceless gift of solidarity in anonymity, for none of us knew one another in real life. I also had one more dear bereaved friend, a stranger who was introduced to me by a third party, with whom I lamented on email, every other day or so. This was my therapy. My support group. I attribute much of my healing, however much I have,  to these four women. (Three of them are listed on my side bar to link: Metanoia, Katie's Family and True North).

What drew me to them? Two of them had lost grown children like me, very suddenly. They lived in the same world of almost speechless shock and unreality that I lived in. Two of them had each lost a daughter through cancer, and though our children's death experiences were dissimilar, their grief itself resonated with my own heart.  All of them had lost children within a year of our loss. A significant factor, I realize now.  I am pretty sure that the only ones who can help are the ones who have been there, or better yet, are there where you are right this moment.

In my search for kindred spirits,  it quickly became apparent that I could not identify with everyone. There were some grief bloggers that even repelled me, as harsh as that sounds. I was hyper-sensitized then and sometimes triggered by their words. I remember revolting strongly against something I read, exclaiming angrily at my computer, "I will never feel like that!!" Grief morphs with time. I know that now. And perhaps as time has gone on, I have felt those same things. But the true point of this is:  they were not what I needed then. And you must find what helps you right when you need it,  right where you are at that moment.

Finding people who truly walk in your shoes is the challenge. Recently another bereaved mother started a blog that solves the problem of finding people who understand. She has actually created a website that gathers the blogs of other mourners into one place, and this mother "curates" it in honor of her beloved son Graham. She is making it simpler for the bereaved to connect with others on the road of grief. The deceased children represent a variety of ages and causes of death. The writers represent a variety of world views and backgrounds. I think it's a beautiful hope-giving place--one that will most certainly alleviate the loneliness of many.

Here is the link: Grief and Loss.  Pass it on.


Anonymous said...

Oh Karen, perhaps this is a place where we read and learn and cry and see that what happens to us after loss is for real. I am so sorry that we have to belong to this dear group of people. Love You much Sharon

GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

Thank you for sharing my site. I hope it helps bereaved parents and siblings find a connection to others who understand. Nothing can restore our lives, but perhaps we can each feel a little less isolated and learn from those who are farther along in this unwanted journey.

karen gerstenberger said...

Much love to you, Karen. My path would have less light than it has if you were not alongside me. How I wish we lived closer to one another!

Robin said...

What would we have ever done without one another? You are so right in everything you say about timing.

Jeri said...

Finding someone who will stand by you and walk with you through any of the ups and downs of this life is challenging. People who you can feel safe to share your heart with, people who will love you no matter what. People who just show up in a phone call and an email and say "hey I'm thinking about you and praying for you". Those people are very rare and many times reaching out without someone reaching back is painful too.

It's a blessing and a gift that God has put you all in each others paths. Friendships and bonds to be cherished for sure.