Melanie Delorme was a content English teacher, wife, mother, sister and
friend when without warning she gained the title of bereaved parent when her
eight-year-old son Garrett was accidentally killed in a hunting accident. Her
road to healing brought her to write her first book. Melanie is involved with
her local chapter of Compassionate Friends and is passionate about offering
hope to other bereaved parents. She is currently living on a ranch in Southern
Saskatchewan with her husband, Gerry, and their two children.Â
~ Website ~
I know what you might be thinking. What?! Accept this?! How dare you even suggest that Ijust accept the death of my child! Before you get angry, hear me out.
I know this is not how life is supposed to workâ€”children should never die before their parents. My grandmother is 95 years old, and she and I had this conversation when Garrett died at age 8 and again when her son, my uncle, died at 58.
When grief experts discuss the stages of grief, acceptance often comes last. I’d like to propose that it should be first, middle, and last. The acceptance of your child’s death allows you to move through the other stages. It allows you to take ownership of your feelings and move towards healing.
It seems fitting that acceptance begins this alphabetized glossary, for without acceptance there can be no healing, no remembering, and no moving forward.
Acceptance does not mean you are over it, nor does it mean that you know how you will live with it, and it certainly does not mean that you will forget your child.
Acceptance means that, as heartbreaking as it is, you know that you cannot bring your child back. However, you will continue to search for ways to keep your child alive through positive actions and celebrations.
Acceptance is the conscious choice of realizing that your relationship with your child has not ended; it has merely changed. It has changed from physically spending time together to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually spending the rest of your life on earth together.
You will likely accept your child’s death with your head far sooner than you accept it with your heart, and that’s okay. I know my head accepted Garrett’s death a long time ago, but a few months back while setting the table for supper, I absentmindedly took five plates out of the cupboard. My heart needed a gentle reminder of our loss because it obviously wasn’t so sure about this acceptance thing.
Your heart may need some gentle reminders too. Be kind and patient with yourself as you search for this place of acceptance.
No one sets a goal to become an addict. So often, addictions begin innocently but then slowly turn into habits that become uncontrollable.
I am not a medical professional, so perhaps I am not qualified to speak about addiction, though I am still going to offer my opinion. It has been my experience that many
addicts are trying to escape undesirable feelings. These feelings may be stress, anger, grief, or loneliness. It appears that it is not necessarily the substance or the behavior that is addictive, but more the ability to escape.
The idea that something could take away your unwanted emotionsâ€”albeit temporarilyâ€”is very tempting. Certain addictions allow us to detach from our emotions and feel carefreeâ€”briefly. Unfortunately, when the effects of the addiction wear off, our emotional pain returns, often worse than it was before.
Be mindful of your alcohol consumption, legal or illegal drug use, eating, exercising, gambling, and internet usage. If any of your behaviors start to make you feel out of control, you may want to consider seeking professional help.
Perhaps you think that anger should be higher on the list than acceptance. Perhaps you have seen the supposed stages of grief somewhere, and you already know that anger is one of them. Possibly that is the stage you are in at this minute.
I remember seeing other parents ignore their children because they were on their phones, and I was so angry that I wanted to scream at them, How dare you not appreciate the life ofyour child. But then I remembered that I had not been a perfect parent either.
There were other times that I wanted to scream at my friends, Hello?! Have youforgotten me? How dare you get back to your normal life like nothing has changedfor you? But the reality was, nothing did change for many of them. It didn’t mean that they weren’t still thinking about me, and it didn’t mean that they would not offer support if I asked.
*See also FRIENDS
Anger is such a dangerous emotion to embrace, and even though it does not rear its head without cause, too often we forget that we have the power to control it. Every time I wanted to scream at someone, it was warrantedâ€”in my mind. However, what would it have gained me? Would it have made me feel better? Maybe for a minute. But unless it brought my son back, it would not have made me truly happy, and to be the source of another person’s hurt was not going to make me feel better.
I know a mother whose child was Idned by a reckless driver who failed to stop at a stop sign. This mother spent three years living in a state of rage. She attended every court hearing the driver faced, insisting that he be jailed for life. She wrote letters to her government officials demanding that he never receive bail, and she spoke of nothing else. The courts deemed this particular accident to be just thatâ€”an accident, and the man spent no time in jail. We can all understand her outrage, but having that man spend the rest of his life in jail was not going to take away her agony; it was not going to bring her daughter back. Furthermore, that man was also going to spend the rest of his life hurting and coping with his guilt.
Anger becomes dangerous when we choose to take this emotion with us on our daily journey. The bottom line is this: the more time you spend angry, the less time you will spend grieving and the further away it will take you from your memories and the further away you will be from acceptance.
So why isn’t anger higher on the list than acceptance? Well obviously, because my book would no longer be alphabetical. But seriously, accept that you may be angry. Allow yourself to be angryâ€”temporarily. It will be the acceptance of your anger that will allow you to deal with it in a healthy or even practical manner. Consider taking some action to alleviate your anger. Throw something. Punch something. Scream in your car. Cry in your bedroom. Perhaps one of these will make you feel better, or perhaps you need a bigger outlet for your anger.
Have you ever heard of Candy Lightner? She was so outraged when her daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver in 1980 that she organized Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). I It doesn’t get much more practical than that! I’m not saying you need to become the founder of a new organization, but perhaps you can join an existing one or simply share your anger with others who have had similar experiences.
*See also SUPPORT GROUPS
I know it is difficult to hear and even more difficult to accomplish, but for your own wellbeing, you need to let go of anger as quickly as you can.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.