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Without You, I’m not Me July 9, 2009

Posted by johnbohlinger in Dealing with Grief after Losing your child..
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August's Love Graffiti he painted on a Nashville Wall

August's Love Graffiti he painted on a Nashville Wall (notice the three dots on the end...)

Without you,  I’m just  not me

When Mark Twain lost his daughter, he went from being the life of the party to a bitter curmudgeon of  a man.  His wonderful sense of humor became cutting sarcasm and harsh judgement.   Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin,  both born the same day, same year (5th of feb,1812.  I think)  both lost a child.  Abe, once known to laugh and joke grew morose for the rest of his days.   I don’t know about Charles, though from all accounts he spent the rest of his life shutting out the outside world and focussing on his scientific work.

I am not the happy guy I was and I hate it.  When I am happy, there is a part of me that feels that it’s wrong, like I should be perpetually grieving.  When I am depressed I feel like a burden to the world: sad to be happy, happy to be sad.

I liked the old me;  I miss being that person and the people in my life miss the old me as well.  I never liked being around negative people and never imagined I could become one.  When I have to be around people I psych myself up saying, “OK,  don’t be a downer, you are going to be fun, funny, charming.  You will laugh and joke and avoid the dark side, dammit.”   This is exhausting;  I tend  to pace myself, avoiding unnecessary get-togethers.  Usually,  I am in and out like Batman;  I show up at work or an event,  pretend to be the person I was then race home to solitude and sometimes depression.

Do you ever feel like yourself again after losing your child?

Comments»

1. maria estrella - July 9, 2009

A child, a mother…they are part of you. When they are gone, a little of you goes with them. You will never be the same but some people are able to make of the experience something positive: live for them, enjoy the things that they would and talk to them.

The closer that I was to my mother after she died – I was eight- was when I starting asking her for help whenever I was afraid or in trouble. I felt her presence, she was proud of me and I felt strong because she would never leave me, and she hasn’t even today. But How I miss her!

2. Robin - July 9, 2009

I sometimes feel I have already lost my child (20) because communication is gone between she and me. And I cry as if she were actually dead, feeling impotent, guilty. Responsible for have not done better to her. How much, do you think, John, is there of feeling guilty in your grief? I do sympathize with you.

3. johnbohlinger - July 9, 2009

Crushing guilt… over what I did and what I failed to do. I don’t know if I could have done anything to save August, but I regret every moment of anger, sadness and disappointment that we shared over his life of almost 20 years. We had so many sweet, wonderful times… had we know that it all was going to end so soon, neither August nor his mother nor I would have worried about all the little things that seemed so important at the time.

4. maria estrella - July 9, 2009

Good point, Robin. To have grown up children and feel that something went wrong when you can’t communicate with them, and you do not know what!

I believe most parents do the best that they can according with circumstances.

5. elvira - July 9, 2009

We often forget human condition is related to freedom. Forget all philosophical problems around it, yet freedom includes decisions that can hurt us. And they do. We cannot escape from it. Being compassive makes you more vulnerable, too. Life becomes harder when you are a compassive person. And yet… a better life as well.

6. elvira - July 19, 2009

John, aren’t you adding more posts to your blog? You might be bored of comments, perhaps? I hope not. Please, write a thing.

7. elvira - July 19, 2009

I listen to Sonny Simmons while I write this. Music is magic and medicine, John. You, of course, know that.

8. rushchick - September 29, 2009

I don’t think you or I will ever feel like “ourselves” again…..at least not what I was before she died, I was a totally different person. I feel that some people don’t want to be around me anymore, I mean I can’t blame them……..Like you I try to psych myself up and try to avoid social functions as much as possible, I am tired of pretending to be happy and acting like nothing happened…..

johnbohlinger - September 29, 2009

Yes..there are times I find myself acting ” like nothing happened” and I feel like I’m insulting my son and my love for him. However, the alternative is killing myself with grief. I have not found the balance, (yet).

A friend of mine from high school, with whom I’ve had absolutely no contact since a beer fueled graduation party found me on face book and sent me this advise which felt good. I hope it gives you some hope. He lost two children. Here’s his anonymous note:

7 years down the road, I can offer that scar tissue forms and at some point you largely move on, but it hurt like hell and still occasssionally does.  I recognize the nature of our losses are very different.  We ended up adopting a son from Korea and then successfully had a biological son — I guess we put our heads down and kept faking it until we actually believed life had a purpose again.  It will happen for you.  If I dare risk offering a bromide (and I do so hessitantly as I know how annoying they can be) its that if you keep believing in it, you’ll have that morning where you wake up and acutally feel good for no particular reason other than that you are not overcome with grief.  Embrace it.  That’s when you know you’ll be OK.

Alright, this is probably a strange post from someone you haven’t heard boo from in 25 years.  Sorry if its inappropriate or throws salt on open wounds.

9. rushchick - September 30, 2009

Oh gosh, no John…..That actually kinda comforted me, offered some hope for the future maybe? Wow he lost 2 children……..I wonder how I am even still breathing, HOW is he still here?? My heart hurts for him and I don’t even know him. I really enjoyed reading his advise, I esp. liked reading the part : “If I dare risk offering a bromide (and I do so hesitantly as I know how annoying they can be) its that if you keep believing in it, you’ll have that morning where you wake up and actually feel good for no particular reason other than that you are not overcome with grief. Embrace it. That’s when you know you’ll be OK.

That was just awesome. Something I shall have to print out and post on my fridge in the mornings so that it will be the something that gives me hope….

10. johnbohlinger - September 30, 2009

Yes… it’s inspiring that people build a new life on top of the ashes. But sometimes it’s like the devil is on my shoulder saying “You should let it all burn.”

rushchick - September 30, 2009

yes I have that darn devil too,I think he would like to see me self-destruct………I am in no way religious by the way……you know what I am saying, I hope, lol


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