“The best way I can describe grieving over a child as the years go by is to say it’s similar to carrying a rock in your pocket.
When you walk, the stone brushes against your skin. You feel it. You always feel it. But depending on the way you stand or the way your body moves, the smooth edges might barely graze your body.
Sometimes you lean the wrong way or you turn too quickly and a sharp edge pokes you. Your eyes water and you rub your wound but you have to keep going because not everyone knows about your stone or if they do, they don’t realize it can still bring this much pain.
There are days where you are simply happy now, smiling comes easy and you laugh without thinking. You slap your leg during that laughter and you feel your stone and aren’t sure whether you should be laughing still. The stone still hurts.
Once in a while, you can’t take your hand off that stone. You run it over your fingers and roll it in your palm and are so preoccupied by its weight, you forget things like your car keys and home address. You try to leave it alone but you just can’t. You want to take a nap but it’s been so many years since you’ve called in “sad” you’re not sure anyone would understand anymore or if they ever did.
But most days you can take your hand in and out of your pocket, feel your stone and even smile at its unwavering presence. You’ve accepted this stone as your own, crossing your hands over it, saying “mine” as children do.
You rest more peacefully than you once did, you’ve learned to move forward the best way you can. Some days you want to show the world what a beautiful memory you’re holding. But most days you twirl it through your fingers, smile and look to the sky. You squeeze your hands together and hope you are living in a way that honors the missing piece you carry, until your arms are full again”.
Author: Jessica Watson
I’m going to add that the only thing missing is that sometimes that single stone morphs into an avalanche of large, crushing, sharp, and painful stones that make breathing nearly impossible. You feel like there’s no way you’ll live through it but you do and the stone returns to the ability to fit in your pocket. As time goes on, the stone’s sharpest edges and points erode and smooth out a little at a time. They don’t stab you as much, avalanches become less often, and carrying your stone becomes your new normal. You learn to appreciate its weight and constant presence. Feeling it can make you smile, bring you peace, or make you cry. You don’t always notice it anymore because it’s just part of who you are now but it will always be there.
Carol Lee, Indiana Wesleyan University Intern & Ryan’s Place Facilitator