Picking Up The Pieces Of My Life.

By | March 13, 2017

How to pick up the pieces of your life, becomes more or  less unchartered territory, especially after a sudden unexpected death, like that of a child.

Those in acute grief are not running to their local bookstore grabbing volumes off the shelves as guidebooks.   I am just trying to get through the day doing whatever I can do, which right now isn’t too much.

Obviously, I was able to write this post, which I find therapeutic for me.

We all grieve in our own individual ways.  There should not be  any timetables, nor any explicit guidelines on how to go through it and start living again.

Each of us has to do it our own way.  This post is about how I am going through my own grief, and is not meant to  be a how to  for others, for it is my own story.

As a therapist, I always was sickened to see proposed seminars  advertised for hefty sums promising those who attended to be able to “work” through grief in a weekend.

Grieving can easily take a lifetime and then, and it is impossible to shove it into a bundle  of sadness to be dispensed of like leftover emotional  baggage.

After the loss of your child, you can’t expect to recover your former self, because you have loss a part of your heart, where only scar tissue will remain.

Grieving isn’t just emotional pain either,  as acute grief has physical manifestations as well.  Besides the physical heart pain in my chest, there is the overwhelming weakness I feel in my body.

I initially attributed this to being jet lagged and sleep deprived.  We left the states on a Thursday and arrived early the next day Friday at 6;45am Paris time, when the city was still enshrouded with darkness.

For me jet lag is worse when I fly back from the states than going, because you are flying west to east and lose time.

First Saturday night back, we forced ourselves out to attend a concert of Francis Poulenc’s Stabat Mater or suffering mother.  Held in a church, the somber melodic strains wielded with my own pain and  resonated in my soul.

This French composer and I share a special devotion to Notre Dame de Rocamadour.  In 1936 when he was visiting Rocamadour, he experienced a mystical experience at her shrine and found himself composing music to Our Lady that won him much acclaim and fame.

It was my own journey to Rocamadour, in the early 90’s that likewise was as mystical in nature that gave me a final push towards becoming Catholic.

As we started out for Sunday mass, the clouds let go piercing streams of rains, like flooding tears that I wish I could shed but seem momentarily frozen within by my numbed psyche.

After mass, Aimee and I once again shoved ourselves to the Salon d’Agriculture only because we had bought tickets months before. I love seeing all the animals and the animations, but this time it was like seeing it through a silk screen.

All in all It was good to get out nevertheless, rather than stay home probably tucked in bed.  This agricultural fair is the largest one in France and is divided into multiple buildings stretched out on both sides of the Parc de Versailles exhibition place, so a lot of walking is guaranteed if you want to see it all.

At one building where they highlighted different regions of France, promoting the foods etc, Aimee tried her luck at winning a weekend in Brittany.  When called to tell us we had won, we rushed back to discover that instead of a vacation, she had  won instead 5 liters of apple juice, albeit very good, but awfully heavy to carry around towards the end.

The encompassing weakness persisted, so I felt accomplished in preparing the nice monkfish we bought with a beurre rosé.  My favorite lady vintner’s Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire went beautiful with it

The last time I felt this weak was after a bout of pneumonia, that took months to recover feeling normal. I have a fleeting headache, that does not correlate with any increase in my blood pressure.

In addition to the pervasive weakness, I feel light-headed and not real steady on my feet.  There is also a vacuous or emptiness in my head and torso.  I feel I am going through the motions of walking like a robot in a total state of emotional numbness.

It is an effort to drag myself out of the bed or chair and even more so outside.  I was never a ball of energy before, but whatever minute droplets of  energy I have aren’t enough to propel me to follow through with the little goals I am trying to set out each day.

My thinking has slowed down to a flow like thick molasses and I feel blurred in making any decisions.

Hunger forces me out to shop for groceries.  Saturday morning, as much as I love going to our outdoor marche, I just didn’t feel like facing our friendly  green growers who like to tease and joke with us as we pick out their fruits and vegetables.

Certainly they would have noticed my sad face and I just didn’t have the force to explain why.

One of the many good things about living in a big city like Paris, is that if you want to eat home prepared meals, you have to get out and walk for it.

I have never had the ability to menu plan  far ahead, preferring to allow my whims and the seasonal produce to seduce my taste buds, sometimes on a daily basis.

Paris provides an excellent visual  and olfactory landscape to tempt you with many food smells and beautiful shiny vegetables  as you walk along her streets.

Fortunately, cooking is not so laborious for me, probably because it is one of my few polished skills I have mastered.  Perhaps now I do it more on auto pilot, lacking right now the ability to innovate or be creative as I was in the past.

I am doing more prep work though, as during the Lenten season, vegetarian meals require more chopping  and thought for someone who does not rely on pasta and beans.

A well prepared meal with some good wine remains pleasurable.  Lighting my candles every night is likewise little effort and I find the yellowish glow of the  candle flame flickering about soothing.

The fresh cold air and wind feels good when I go outside and makes me feel slightly more alive and alert.  The brightly coloured Primaveras that I planted a few weeks ago adorn my balcony and are a welcome sight when I open my eyes in the morning, giving me a jolt of colour against my grey mood.

I have always told my patients to just stick to the basics of self care and nothing else after death of a loved one.  Even that can be a challenge, when you do not feel like even getting out of bed, and going through the motions of everyday living.

I found that I needed to make very amendable simple goals each day.  Some I was able to carry through, and some I just could not  muster up enough energy to even start.

Thank  goodness there is always tomorrow. I have never been a conformist to rigid compulsive “shoulds” and ‘”ought to’s”, so  not following through never was catastrophic, and now so even less.

When you lose a child, everything else is no longer important.  Your whole perspective changes, in that what you may have deemed significant to have or to do in your life, no longer has any meaning and certainly not any priority in your life.

Your life plug is pulled and you find your life energy draining out, and I can’t find the plug, nor can I refill my strength  just now.

Any restoring of my psychic well comes from my faith, as I feel that Holy Spirit makes it a point to pour whatever I need inside to carry me through to another day.

My tattered heart is riddled with jagged cuts as  made with a dull scalpel driven randomly left to right, that intermittently cries out with chest pain.

I will have to go back to being the little tugboat again, pushing my heavy load of grief upstream against a strong current.  Images of the cute escargots, or snails carrying their housetops slowly over rocks and terrains come to mind.

It is not important when I arrive, as I will when I can.  I know not to isolate and intend to call out to my friends any time of need, for they will be there.

Seeking little grains of pleasure and joy are on my agenda, as before, but with greater emphasis than before.  I often said that we must fill our glass full in order to pour ourselves out again to others in need.

Perhaps now I will be more open to others nourishing me too, filling my cup, when my own efforts may falter.  I think healers in general have a hard time allowing others to take care of us.

Helping others has never been a chore, but a joy and spiritual mission that I will continue, God willing.   I always described myself as a wounded healer anyway, allowing my own wounds to continue to spring forth my deep empathy and compassion as balm for other’s hearts in pain.

Although I am very emotional, and  tremendously moved by others pain, when it comes to dealing with my own pain, I am  more stoic.   Optimistic by nature,  I will plod forth with faith, stumbling and faltering on my way.

Like my little grape vine, I am hoping that new buds of life will appear in the spring and there will be  sweet fruit to harvest anew.

Yesterday, as I was slowly walking around Le parc de la Vallée aux Loups, a few miles south of Paris, there were only a few trees that had flowered, but many had plump buds ready to open. Like me, they need more time and more healing sunshine to bloom again.

Life is for living and with time on my side, I have faith that my little baby steps, along with the help of my loving daughter, friends, Holy Mary Theotokos and my unending faith, I will be able to reassemble my broken heart, not hiding my scars, but living with them as best that I can.



27 thoughts on “Picking Up The Pieces Of My Life.

  1. carline charles

    Continue to take the time you need Cherry and Aimee to grieve. I will continue pray
    for peace and healing of your hearts during this time of grief. Love you both.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Carline for your sweet message and prayers for me and Aimée. Love and hugs

  2. kk norman

    My heart breaks for you and Aimee. Please know that you are constantly in my prayers. I so wish we could make it all go away. The suffering must be unbearable. I am giving you a big hug right now and remembering what good friends we were when growing up. Wish we lived closer. I miss you.
    Love you lots, KK

    1. Cherry Post author

      KK, your prayers, love and hugs are much needed and appreciated. Love and Hugs

  3. Andy Feehan

    Cherry, I am glad you found Poulenc’s music. Music helps everything. Blessings to you and Aimee.

  4. Ella

    Sending you both constant prayers and love! Always here if you need anything at all! ❤️

  5. becky

    what a heart felt writing..i could only imagine the pain…i still pray for you and aimee.i have had at least 9 friends and family that have lost their children. each time i can feel their pain. it makes me cry to see a mother hurt so bad and so much. again i wish i could find a way to wrap you up in loving arms and tell you it will be ok..but i know, you are right about it being a slow process.know that i am here for what ever you can find for me to do anything to help.it is always you that help heal our hearts and mind.im so grateful you have aimee there with you.what a wonderful daughter. loving you, becky

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Becky for all of your continued sweet words of love and support. I worry about you too and please know that I had wanted to write you back just before I learned of Andre’s death. Praying for you too. Love and Hugs

  6. Diane Horowitz

    Dear Cherry and Aimee,
    Your words touch in my heart that space where the ragged edges continually search for the right fit.
    The noise at times is deafening yet it is the music of our human condition
    You said it is impossible to shove grieving into a bundle of sadness and send it off like leftover emotional baggage
    But you told me once Cherry
    The soul-wrenching roar of pain can and will eventually become a soft sweet melody of a lullabye in Spring.
    I love you both

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Diane for your loving and comforting message. Thank you also for your sweet card you sent too. I do hope that my pain will someday soften. I know that life goes on and although I will never be the same, I will have to follow through with living whatever life I can create. My faith sustains me. Love and hugs to you

  7. Ann peters

    Dearest Cherry,
    I cannot begin to know the pain, but your words are gentle and soughing to my heart. Your gifts will help close the wound and each passing day will help strengthen you. Stay strong in faith. Love you and Aimee! I still have pictures of her when she was a baby, when we lived close in Gretna! Hugs to you both! Ann

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you very much Ann for such a sweet message of hope and encouragement. Would love to see those photos some day. Hugs to you too

  8. Carol Kight

    Continued prayers of strength and comfort for you, Cherry and also Amiee.

  9. Debora

    I wish I could help you as you helped me…..know that I’m sending my love! Each day is one step in the journey. It’s not a race, go at your own pace.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Debora for your love and prayers much needed. Love and Hugs

  10. Isham Smith

    Cherry,your Primaveras are adefinite sign of spring.the yellow ones are usually more fragrant then the others for some reason
    I have read all of your and Aimee post with a heavy heart knowing that there are no earthly words but only Prayer 🙏 for you and Aimee.
    Also Music as always help me .one song comes to mind called “Futher Along” will understand it better in the by and by.live in the sunshine ☀️
    Hugs to you

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Isham for your prayers, which I have felt supported by yours and others so graciously given for me and Aimee. Will check out the fragrance of the yellow ones you mentioned. All of the colours are so pretty to my eyes. Hugs

  11. Pam viviano

    May I quote my friend who once had a little house on Gladstone, with pretty red walls and a sweet little drawing room with a velvet (I think) couch facing her chair, next to a restored, professional grade gourmet kitchen. She said to me words that have rung in my ears ever since, since I have them on paper which she gave to me and I have kept all these years:

    All yourself time to heal- quit trying to force feed healing. Quit struggling to be perfect- dare to be average. Learn to allow (Pam) _________ do nothing time to piddle without guilt. Stop giving in to your littany of ought to’s, got to’s and have to’s. When we are not feeling good, we need to nourish ourselves with comfort, kindness, softness.

    Cherry, I have kept this all these years in your handwriting. I don’t have to tell you how to grieve. I am a better person and very lucky to have you as a friend. Love to you and to your whole family as you continue this journey. May the Holy Mother continue to shine her warmth down on you. I appreciated your story here.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you dear friend for forwarding back to me my own words given from my heart to you. I am definitely being soft and kind as I limp along, not accomplishing much these days as my energy stores are all low as well as my motivation. I do force myself out for the basics and for anything of beauty in art and music that I have a modicum of interest left. Even below average sounds good enough these days. Holy Mother does indeed give me strength each day. Love and Hugs

  12. Sharron

    Dear, sweet friend,

    You are in my daily thoughts and prayers, as you traverse this most difficult journey through grief.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Sharron for your continued thoughts and prayers, which I know are healing me heal. Hugs

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