My friend Michelle has paved the way for many grieving mothers. It has been 21 years since she lost her daughter. She has been a light and guide for many people. Read her insight about the shared code of DNA.
Over the past twenty-one years since my infant daughter’s passing, I have come to recognize that when it comes to grief, expect the unexpected. Not just in terms of the emotions felt, but also in the processing and understanding of these emotions. I recently experienced something that illustrates this well, at least within my own heart. I will do my best to explain.
Early within my grief process, I was able to quickly identify situations that unearthed painful sensations. At first I avoided funerals mostly out of fear. After all, Samantha’s had been the hardest ever. When I did start back, the first few were quite tough. Initially, I confess, I found it impossible not to reflect extensively on my own loss. Over the past ten years I have been able to focus on the person and family. As such, attendance has yielded more healing than pain so I no longer hesitate to be present.
When I had heard the news last October of the passing of young man I knew, I instantly planned to attend his services. I met him when he was about fifteen years old. I volunteered with a wonderful organization that organizes an annual camp for kids. Over the three years I was a counselor, I was blessed to know him. He was 19 when he passed.
The service was very well attended. The funeral reflected his culture, faith, and community. Although different than my own, I found his life celebration to be a beautiful tribute to both him and his loved ones. Near the conclusion of the services, his mother approached her son for a final viewing. She expressed her grief openly: raw, pure, and without form. I was unprepared for what followed. Her wails pierced my very soul. Instead of identifying with just my own loss, as I had done years before, I shared her loss. This is not to say my grief for her son equaled hers. I knew without words the loss she endured. I felt an understanding and connection beyond my rational mind and beyond my emotions. It was as if her wails had activated a shared code of DNA. We were the same. She had lost her child. It doesn’t matter whether that child was in her womb, in her arms, holding her hand, or pushing her wheelchair. Age is irrelevant. She had lost her child.