This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy!
ACTUALLY BURYING MY SON
I had times were my thoughts were marred by the inconceivable idea of committing him to earth. I thought all sorts. I had all sorts of images about the decomposing and loneliness down there in the grave. As a mum, I felt subdued, helpless and on the receiving end. That was when I decided that I had to take back control of my thoughts. I could not let them control me.
I like to think that we experience our thoughts. If we begin to think there is a snake in the room, even though it is not a statement of fact, we soon begin to feel scared or unsettled. I did not want to lose control of my feelings. One of the reasons why death is scary is because unlike most experiences, there are stories about those experiences from those who have been through them that can either throw more light on them, reassure us or scare us. With their accounts, we begin to separate fact from fiction and ultimately gain more understanding about the issue.
Death is one experience that by virtue of its finality remains a mystery. No one has actually come back from being dead to tell us about what it is like. There are no real tangible facts. All the facts that exist are intangible explanations that require more than the five senses to make sense of. People tend to adopt a “faith” to help make sense of it. Sadly not everyone has a faith to help.The uncertainty surrounding the death experience fuels anxiety leading to various reactions to death. Shock, fear, grief, loss, anger, confusion and the list is endless.
We as humans are made to make sense of things by mirroring them with our past experiences. This helps us understand. So if I tell you that I broke my leg, you are most likely going to remember (draw on a past experience) where you either broke your leg (experienced yourself), nursed someone with a broken leg, or knew someone who broke their leg (experienced by proxy). Either way, you will tend to understand better because you have felt that sort of pain before.
Unfortunately, no death experience is felt by any of us directly, it always happens to someone else. This means that we can only make sense of death by thinking about it in the way we can understand. We may worry about how the deceased feels. In my case I worried about my boy being “lonely” in his grave, I worried about his skin “decomposing” and looking horrible. I worried about him being “trapped”, not moving etc… all these are characteristics that affect people who are alive and really nothing to do with the dead.
A dead person can feel nothing and therefore can sense nothing because all life is gone from the deceased. The things that lead up to death are a process that release the person into the state of being…. dead. For some the events that lead to their death are peaceful, for others they are tragic. Either way, without these processes, death will not occur. They will then stay alive, just like the rest of us who they have left behind. It is only if the deceased was alive that they would experience the feelings of pain, love, laughter, joy, sorrow, worry and so on.
It is important to try to consciously stop trying to make sense of the feelings of the body of a dead person. To stop worrying about how the dead “feel”. That word “feel” is a word that only makes sense when you are “not dead”. The deceased that we think about are in essence “dead” and therefore have no need or ability to feel things. They can neither feel anything on their physical bodies like wounds or decay nor can they feel any emotions like pain or loneliness for example. I prefer to experience a feeling beyond what my senses can call factual to help release me from being imprisoned in by grief.
You can think of the dead as free from pain, disease (in my son’s case), free of being limited by whatever circumstance held them down while they lived. It may help you experience happiness amidst the sorrow. It also does not make any factual sense … which is the whole idea of this line of thought. Being dead cannot make sense beyond the lifelessness of the deceased that is left behind for us to deal with. To enter into any understanding about death, we have to find that way to connect interiorly in our being either through faith or deep spiritual exercises. As this may be a feat possible for only monks and mystics, I am afraid, we may be better of leaving the dead well alone.
I also saw my son one last time before he was committed to earth and although `I had built myself up for a disastrous experience, it was one of the most emancipating experiences of my life. He had began to transition into a state of oneness with Mother Earth. There was no trace of resemblance with my beautiful boy. He was simply gone!
It helped me free him in my heart to be buried.
You know when he initially died, he still looked so beautiful and peaceful in the chapel of rest where he lay. Somewhere in my head, it kept feeling like he would wake up. I knew he could not because he was gone but it did not stop me wishing.This increased my anxiety about having him buried. I felt a lot of comfort knowing he was in the mortuary.
In my mind, I could only feel comforted that he was “asleep” in death … in that cool fridge.
Sadly my emphasis in that statement was on the “asleep” not on the “in death”. I kept trying to see him as dead but in my mind’s eye, he looked so peaceful, like he was asleep.
This all changed when I saw him that last time… because he was … very “dead” in that chapel of rest.
To be continued…
Thank you for reading.
Just so you know, there was Part 1 last week. Click here to catch up.
You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.