Get Through a Tough Day

Peggy Green - Thee Grief Specialist

By Peggy Green of Thee Grief Specialist

In just a few days I am attending a memorial service for Sam (his name has been changed for privacy). Sam was a young man in his early twenties.

His cause of death has yet to be determined.

It is likely though that it was either suicide or drug overdose. Sam was one of my son’s friends from a 12-step drug rehabilitation program they went through together. Knowing that Connor died by suicide, Sam’s mother reached out to me. She asked if she would ever survive this time.  I was able to comfort her by telling her she would. It would not be easy though. Through her effort and support of friends and family she would be able to step into her new life without her son, move through grief and find hope.

It has been a little over two months since Sam died. This is the first memorial I will attend since Connor’s in 2018. To be
honest and completely vulnerable, the thought of attending Sam’s memorial has my stomach in knots, my heart racing, and doubting my ability to attend without having my own grief surface. I want to support Sam’s mother because I know all
too well what it is like to lose a son.
 I don’t want to make this about me. I want my presence to be an act of service, showing compassion and understanding of the loss of Sam.

As the day approaches, I am taking my own advice and doing exactly what I coach my clients to do. Usually the day(s)
leading up to an event is the hardest. It helps to prepare for it in advance. We all have those days- birthdays, heavenly birthdays, etc.

It is important to practice self-care. For me getting outdoors and hiking is grounding, producing healthy hormones and reducing
stress. I’m making sure to drink a ton of water to keep my brain clear and my digestion working. (Physical symptoms of grief we sometimes forget about). I have been journaling more, especially about my fear of what memories and pain that could surface.

It has been 2 1/2 years since my son died and the grief continues to come up. However, it is less frequent, less intense, and
usually the result of a trigger like attending Sam’s funeral. The day of the memorial I have a plan, actually two plans:
 plan A and Plan B.  Plan A is that I’m okay. My own loss and grief don’t consume me.  I’m able to comfort Sam’s mom and support friends and family who are grieving.  I too will be one of those grieving.

Plan B is if grief for my own son bubbles up from inside and is outwardly expressed so that others feel the need to comfort
me instead of Sam’s mom.
 Or the heaviness hangs over me like a dark cloud adding to the weight of the day. By giving myself permission before hand to politely pay my respects and leave the memorial gives me the courage and strength to attend the service. Ever since Connor died, I promised myself I would honor my grief and emotions.  Plan B does just that

I want to share with you that in my day-to-day life I am doing well.  I think of my son and my daughter (my first child loss 30 years ago) and smile. The memories rarely cause pain. Instead, my heart sings with gratitude for having them in my life.  Sam’s memorial is a big event.  I’m honored to be included in his celebration of life. I know that Connor welcomed Sam into heaven with open arms , declaring, “always room for one more” and with that, I am feeling better about attending Sam’s service.