“Me Too”: The Power of Validation

In the wake of revelations that Harvey Weinstein built his media empire in part, by harrassing (and worse) women who worked for him, there is a Facebook wave of “me too” posts by women and men who have also been harrassed, molested or assaulted.

It is empowering.  

Because when hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands raise their social media “hands” to be counted, suddenly the lonely heart hiding in the corner realizes they are NOT alone.  

I am thrilled that the secrecy and shame of sexual misconduct by men against women is being dragged into the light.  That is where it belongs. 

I want to do the same for child loss.  I want to do the same for grief.  I want to start a bold campaign where mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents and others say, “Me too!”

My heart hurts too. 

My life is NOT the same and will NEVER be the same without my loved one’s companionship on earth.

I STILL look for him to come through the door on holiday weekends.  I still long to CALL her and share good news or talk over my day.  I CANNOT give up his old clothes or put away her toys or bundle up his belongings for charity.

I have to suck in my breath when a quick glance at a passing stranger tells my heart, “THERE HE IS!”

But my head says, “No, that can’t be him-he’s GONE.”

Songs-all kinds of songs-provoke memories, feelings, tears.  Dry it up.  Keep the fake face smiling.  Look forward, don’t let them see. 

There are thousands of us.  Thousands. of. us.

Who will stand and raise their hand and SHOUT, “Me too!”?

me too sharing the path

 

Vocabulary Lesson: Learning the Language of Grief and Loss

How do you speak of the unspeakable?

How do you constrain the earth-shattering reality of child loss to a few syllables?

How do you SAY what must be said?

I remember the first hour after the news.  I had to make phone calls.  Had to confirm my son’s identity and let family know what had happened.

I used the only words I had at the time, “I have to tell you something terrible. Dominic is dead.”

Over, and over, and over.

Until others could pick up the chant and spread it to the ends of the earth.

And then silence.

Such a deep wound requires silence.  Because there are no words for the ache inside a mother’s heart, the pain that burrows into her bones, the sorrow that sucks the breath from her body.

It was some months before I found a community of bereaved parents who began to give me a vocabulary for my experience.

And it was more than helpful, it was liberating!

break-the-chains

As I began to speak aloud what was hidden inside, it broke chains I didn’t realize held me hostage.

As long as my feelings are secret, they trap my heart and mind in an endless cycle of regret, fear, sorrow, pain and anxiety.  When I speak them aloud, I can recognize them and fight them and overpower them.  And when I share them,  I find that I am not alone.

Others come alongside and say, “Me too!”  Validation makes me stronger. Understanding makes me brave.

me too sharing the path

I hate the fact that my son is dead.

I hate the pain that his death has inflicted on me and on my family.

There are days I wish I could run away and hide, that I could pretend this never happened, that I could undo the broken that permeates my life.

But I can’t.

There’s no way through but through.  I have to face the awful truth, I have to consider the ways it is changing me and remaking who I am.

I need words to process the pain because that’s how I can disarm its power over me.

It’s tempting to try to ignore the hard parts of our stories thinking that we are getting away from them.

But we aren’t.

The harder the season, the more profound the wound or bitter the struggle the more time it takes to process.

The first step is learning the words and finding community in which to speak them.

healthy-heart

Here are links to three online communities for bereaved parents:

While We’re Waiting-Support for Bereaved Parents

Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child

TCF-Loss of a Child (The Compassionate Friends)

If you have lost a child and are looking for a place to learn the language of grief and loss, a safe space to share your pain with others who understand it, see if one of these groups might be the place for you.