To The Grieving- You Are Not Alone
I sat on the stairs in disbelief. I was shocked at what I had just heard from the person on the other side of the phone. I was so disgusted that I had to pull the phone away from my ear, look at it for a reason I will never understand and then return it to answer the woman on the line with, ‘Yes it is important that I know that I can attend my mother’s funeral the day after tomorrow.’
In the beginning I thought fostering was the answer to prayers. An instant family that involved me supporting children and their families in times where they just needed helping hands. The reality however was shockingly different and the brutality I was facing from those that were designated to support was growing.
We had a young person who was severely triggered around death. My mother had been sick for some time and unfortunately, we lost her. I set aside my grief. Swallowed my emotions so that I could protect the child in our care. All I needed was the day of the funeral. That’s all I wanted. They presented the idea for an overnight and I was on board with that.
But the person who was at the centre of it and who had the responsibility for signing it off just seemed to have an attitude which resulted in me not receiving promised calls and being jilted when asking for confirmation. Time was running out. It was 48 hours before the service to celebrate my mother’s life and 24 hours before telling my foster child they were going somewhere different, would become difficult. Like me, she hated being blind sighted. She needed time to prepare if she was to go anywhere and contact with her family would need to be supported by another and arranged accordingly. We needed to have all our ducks in a row.
I finished the call in a daze. I was heartbroken. I had given so much over the years. We all had as a family.
All the sleepless nights.
The suicide watches.
The running to and fro.
The late nights when parents didn’t arrive back on time with the child we were caring for.
The police at the door.
The beatings I took.
The false accusations from families who were devastated and angry and we were the ones they would focus their rage on.
The death threats.
We had battle scars.
To be fair, I expected more from my social worker.
Her relative had passed a short time before my mother and she had taken three months leave. I knew she understood grief. I expected her humanity to play a part in supporting me at that time, but I felt that she failed me. I can maybe suggest that she didn’t like me? It’s possible. I could make it personal but really, I will never understand how someone in the caring profession could have been so cruel.
Long story short, I did go to the funeral. After a call with my foster child’s social worker, (who is designated to supporting the child more than me), I drowned the phone in tears. She intervened and pushed my paperwork through. My foster child went on to have an amazing time at a teen recreational centre. And I got a day and a half to process my grief before I had to put it back in a box for her return home.
I understand what is like when someone you expect to be there for you isn’t.
The disbelief that you could have been so wrong about someone.
And I also understand what it’s like to delay the grief process.
To be honest I held off so long that I had forgotten how to restart grieving. It fit so well in the box I had created for it. There it could remain for a time until I felt ready. My foster child went back to her family a year after my mother’s passing and I never unpacked the box. I didn’t know how and a part of me didn’t want to deal with my feelings. I was numb. I was coping.
It was when my phone crashed a month ago that I unravelled. I lost my mother’s last messages. The grief overflowed the box. It overwhelmed my body, everything; all after four long years since she died.
I suddenly realised she was truly gone when I had nothing of hers to hold. I have been processing it ever since. I think to myself, people lose the ones they love every day and that it’s normal to feel this way. I think to myself, ‘I can handle it,’ but really I feel like I have lost her twice. Once in a hospital bed and the other when my phone no longer worked and I realised that I hadn’t backed everything up.
But, in a twisted way, losing the voicemails and text messages has been good for me. It was the catalyst that brought my feelings to the surface again.
So although I look tired.
Although my personality feels prickly to others right now.
And the sadness pours from my every fibre.
I am right where I need to be.
I am in mourning for a good mum.
I want to leave as great a mark on the world for my child as she did for my siblings and me.
I don’t know if you believe in what I am about to share but it’s one of the reasons I like the story of Joseph from the bible.
The dreamer who was given dreams and interpretations.
I have had one dream in my life which has then happened before my eyes. And I choose to count another with as much faith as I can muster.
When I went to the bedside, when it was the end, my mother was vacant. She was breathing but she couldn’t communicate. So I never knew if she was ok, if she was completely ready or if she was scared. I didn’t know if she wanted prayer. I didn’t know if she wanted to accept Jesus. I couldn’t help save my mother on earth and I couldn’t help but feel I had missed my opportunity to help save her in the next life to.
Some months after her death I dreamt a dream. It was a family dinner at a restaurant that I didn’t recognise. She looked good. She looked happy. She looked healthy. After dessert I asked her if she wanted to come home. She smiled, held my hand and told me she had somewhere to go. I knew then she was with Jesus.
When my grief was reignited I have revisited that dream. It gives me so much hope and I choose to believe that was God’s way of telling me, she was ok. Thanks to God, I know this dream will be at the centre of my healing as I process my grief.
I want to tell you, and remind myself, that God has all the bases covered. He loves our loved ones just as equally as He loves us. I had to remind myself that after she passed, that it was in all in God’s hands and He was very capable of working a bad situation in to good. In fact, that was His specialty. His expertise.
So for those who are processing grief right now, let us pray together.
"God, sometimes words are hard.
Sometimes tears become the only language we know how to use.
But You understand.
In Your wisdom You know that we need a season to grieve.
We need time to heal.
To celebrate a life lived.
But not everyone is able to take that time straight away.
And so You hold us until it’s time.
And give us the space we need.
It’s never convenient.
But then death isn’t convenient.
Our feelings, our tears, our hurt is important to You.
Because it is an expression of love.
Thank You Lord that we have people in our lives that leave a mark.
That leave lasting memories.
And that continue to teach us long after they are gone, through recalling events from the past.
In an interesting way we thank you for grief.
But it’s also about honouring a bond between people that is founded on what You desire for us all.
And we are thankful that we have had people in our lives that loved us and that we could love.
Protect them Lord.
Look after them and we know You will.
And help us to miss them in a way that feeds our lives rather than drains them.
Help us to be the continuation of the legacy of love they were involved in.
If you have been affected by this story I encourage you to seek support through a trusted individual or organisation.
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