This is Us

It has taken me almost a week to write about the Superbowl episode of This is Us.

It shook me, more than Grey’s Anatomy’s depiction of Derek Shepherd’s death (sorry if you’re not caught up on that – but it’s been a few years…) It shook me not because of the way he died, because Derek’s death was more like my husband’s but because of the aftermath.

The having to tell the children. The having to parent the children. The 20 years in the future and how the memories still affect Rebecca and how the children cope and how life was so drastically altered as a PARENT.

Not just the wife. The mother.

I can’t find a video of it, the moment where she goes to Miguel’s house to talk to the kids.  Where she stands in the doorway and tells him that she needs to be strong for her kids and if he can’t, he’ll need to take a walk until he can.

But in watching that…. all I could see was myself. How my kids went home in one car and I went home in another and I was lost. I was not a pillar of strength for my kids. I was not strong, I was not able, I was not the rock they needed to lean on.

All I could see in that moment was how I failed my children when their father died.

How one of my kids would tell me that she thinks of the good memories and is happy.  And I thought that was such an amazing thing. But really – she didn’t want me to be sadder.  Now, when her life is changing so much, she needs her dad and he’s not here and she’s ANGRY because she hasn’t grieved.

How one of my kids asked me after a fight with my chapter 2 if things were ok, because he didn’t want me to be sad again.

How my daughter says flat out that when I’m old, one of my other kids will be responsible for me because she took care of me when he died. She did her part.

How I failed them.

I don’t know how to fix that.

I was in so much pain. I hurt so badly. I couldn’t move past it. And I failed them.

This is Us showed another side of being a widow. It showed what happens on the other side – not just from the widow perspective, but from the children’s perspective.  Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t. The kids are a plot line, a side story that come out every once in a while to make a point.

And because of it, This is Us, the episode where Jack died, the episode after where they went to the funeral (and the odd needing to have him with her at all times) that affected me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting to be reminded of how I abandoned my kids when they needed me the most – not on purpose – just because I didn’t know how to cope with it myself.

How do I fix that? They are my heart.

IMGP5737

Children & Grief

At times I forget, in the enormousness of my own grief, that I’m not the only one who lost someone.

There are differences in grief – the difference of what type of loss it is – but that doesn’t change the fact that other people have lost someone important in their life, as well.

I was at my sister-in-law’s house on the weekend, spent some time with her, and when the boys wandered away, she asked me how they were doing.

“Fine” was my response.   They seem to be adapting well.  They seem to be accepting.

I forgot that children grieve differently.

I read somewhere that children will wait until they are sure the surviving parent is capable of handling their grief.

This morning, I found my youngest son sitting on his bed, holding his dad’s ashes, tears running down his face.

Grief hit him.  He misses his Dad.  He’s a mini-Mark.  He’s got a lot of Mark’s qualities… good and bad.   And grief hit him.

What can I do for my child other than hold him and let him cry?

It was 7.45am, I was in my bathrobe, and not ready to go.   (Yes, I get it.  I need to be ready for work before I play on the computer… *sigh*)

I know that at one point in my life, I would have been so very focused on my own life that I would have ignored my son’s distress and showered so I could get to work on time.

Instead, I sat down on his bed… and snuggled him while he cried.

I can’t take away his pain – I would if I could – but I can let him ride the wave of grief in the safety of my arms.

Knowing that my kids are getting to the point of being able to share their grief with me… I know that I am moving to a better place, a healing place, a stronger place.

I am capable of handling their grief and sadness.

January 2010 039