“Let’s get over it and move on” is a comment left on an article in memoriam to those who lost their lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in today’s newspaper. If only it was that simple, if only there could be a magic wand that would miraculously take away the pain and traumatic grief for those spending Mother’s Day without their children today. Yet, I understand the need for those not directly impacted to move on and enjoy the celebration of their mothers, wives, and daughters. This dichotomy is yet another layer of what makes grieving complicated loss so complex. In such a violent traumatic loss, many are stuck on December 14 and have not yet begun the grieving process. While others have taken a proactive, public stance in terms of gun control, rebuilding the school or many other issues much more private and unknown to the public. From the outside looking in, it is impossible to know what the experience of the Sandy Hook mothers is and yet, judgments are made creating another layer of loss, isolation and suffering. I wonder how we as humans can foster compassion for these mothers, indeed all mothers who are grieving today.
The death of a child is perhaps the most painful, difficult loss anyone could experience. It is outside the natural order of life and robs parents of the future once imagined. The pain is particularly keen during holidays, birthdays and on Mother’s day. It was shortly after Mother’s Day in 1998, when my niece was diagnosed with a cancer she did not survive. Her absence is as a much a part of my family’s everyday life as breathing. While we have moved forward – not on, moving on would somehow diminish her life. We have learned to live with her loss, to honor her life and yet 15 years later, the depth of the pain of her absence washes over me with an intensity that takes my breath away today. I share my loss in the hopes to foster compassionate awareness of the Sandy Hook moms and my sister as the pain of the loss of a child is one that mothers carry in an enduring way.
Mother’s day is a time of joy with the exception of the grieving mother – regardless of the reason for their loss. We must find a way to foster tolerance, offer compassion and encourage the healing process to these women.
This Saturday, the Connecticut Mental Health Counselor Association is walking in the National Alliance for Mental Illness Annual Walk. We must be the change we want to see in the world, particularly following the Sandy Hook tragedy – walk with us in support of everyone experiencing an emotional challenge.
Deb Del Vecchio-Scully is a counselor and writer who focuses on healing the mind, body and spirit. She specializes in PTSD, Chronic pain and mood disorders. For more information: www.anschealthandwellness.com.