Gratitude for our Friends *

14 Feb 2018

          Kaylan died on a Sunday, and my sister somehow found a parent's grief group for us to attend a couple of nights later. Everything I've read since has advised against saying "I know exactly how you feel" to a bereaved parent, but at that meeting a woman looked into my eyes and said exactly that. I will always love her for it, because she had lost her son and I knew she intimately understood the pain of my heart. It was a strange kind of respite to sit among those parents on that night. There was a mama who had lost her infant and a mama who had lost her senior-citizen aged child, yet we were all the same. We are mothers of dead children. Mothers who will never touch our babies again in this lifetime. None of us had them long enough. There is no such thing. Being with those moms made me know that I could survive. At that point I didn't necessarily want to survive, although their presence at that Compassionate Friends assured me that it was possible.          
          At the time I had no comprehension of how fortunate we were to have such amazing support from our friends. Not long afterward I discovered that families of children - or any relative - lost to suicide are often widely shunned. Sometimes their friends never speak to them again. Is it fear?  Blame? Abhorrence? Idiocy? Do they just have no clue how to behave or what to say? I still don't know, but over the past seven years I have heard the most heartbreaking stories of secondary loss from people who ended up alone in their bereavement. I had never lost one of my children before, so I had no experience by which to compare. Truthfully I'm not sure that I noticed much at all during that week. I wandered in numb shock while willing myself not to scream out loud.
          Our wonderful friends brought flowers and candles. They repeatedly picked up our family members at SeaTac and brought them to us - over an hour away. They housed and fed our family and friends, and they loaned us their cars. They sent enormous quantities of healthy food every day for longer than a week, and they baked us cookies. We have a large family. Someone brought a huge pile of paper plates, napkins, cups, and forks. One friend even sent someone to clean the house while we were at the funeral. Loving people arrived and loaded up all the flowers, took them to funeral to decorate the church, and then brought them all back again before we got home.

          My BFF and her daughter went to my daughter's place and packed up all of her things. That was so far above-and-beyond that I still can't think of it without crying. Our friends adopted one of Kaylan's kitties who grew into a giant and still lives with them on Orcas Island. Her friend adopted the other kitty who still lives with her in Seattle.
          I am still humbled and grateful when I think back on their outpouring of love and generosity. I learned so much from their caring and generosity. Pure love. Pure love. Pure love.

Helping Survivors after Suicide: What can you do?
The Compassionate Friends



Erica KitzmanComment