“Happy Birthday, Linda. Happy Birthday to you! And many mooooore.” sang the group.
“I want to make a toast!” said Christie.
Linda, Christie, Amy, and Cari were all sitting around a well-loved wood table that had always been in the cabin. Each one grabbed their wine glass and raised it for the toast.
“I’m happy that my three best friends are here. We have busier lives than when we started coming here in college, so I appreciate that you were all able to make this happen. Here’s to each of you, my beautiful friends, and to many more annual girls weekends at the cabin.” said Christie.
“Cheers!” said the group as they raised their glasses and drank together in honor of themselves.
“I want to make a toast, too,” said Cari “This is to my beautiful son Kevin. I am still your mother. I refuse to let you go. I know you are no longer on this planet with me. I wasn’t ready for you to die. I will never let you go. I love you, Kevin. Cheers to you, my love.” Cari raised her glass in honor of Kevin.
There was a pregnant pause and the room turned awkwardly silent. Amy raised her eyebrows and looked at Linda. Both were surprised by what had just happened. Linda turned her head to stare out the window directly behind Cari. Christie sat frozen not knowing what to say.
“Cheers!” repeated Cari.
Linda said, “Yes. Cheers!.” and raised her glass. Amy and Christie followed Linda’s lead by raising their glasses and drinking to Kevin’s memory.
The room fell silent again.
Amy cleared her throat and said, “Um, Cari. I know the last three years have been hard for you. I know that you’ve read a litany of books about loss including Elizabeth Kubler Ross, Michael Kessler, and others, and can quote from them verbatim.” Amy grabbed Cari’s hand and said, “As a friend and someone who cares deeply about you as do Linda and Christine. My darling Cari, when are you going to allow yourself to process your loss?”
Christie sat quietly and thought to herself. Wow! Amy, thank you for calling out the elephant in the room. Oh my God! This is too intense for me. What to do? What to do? She looked around then reached out her hand and laid it on top of Amy’s and Cari’s. And then, Linda put her hand on top of theirs.
Cari’s eyes welled up with tears as she said, “I thought this was a safe space for me to be myself. I’ve been open and continue to share my grief journey with all of you.” Cari took a breath, “Every day I am reminded that Kevin is not here. I see memories of him popping up on my phone and social media, and I feel his loss repeatedly. Grief on top of my grief. I still can’t grasp what happened to him. I was his mother; I was supposed to protect him. What I do know for sure is that I am traumatized every time I think about how he died. My heart broke the day he died and has yet to be fixed. Frankly, maybe I don’t want it fixed. If it’s fixed, will I forget him?”
Linda sat up straight and moved back slightly while keeping her hand with the others. She softened her eyes and looked at Cari, “Care, loss is complicated and so incredibly personal. When I lost Ben, I wondered if I would ever feel like myself again. Will I ever be happy? It took a while for me to process my loss and find my so-called new normal. For me, I think about Ben every day. I always will. However, I let go of my suffering, so now I can hold his memory and talk about him without falling apart.”
“Linda, obviously you understand. You’re so much stronger than me. I don’t know how you do it.” said Cari.
“I see you researching and reading a lot of books about loss, so logically you understand the various aspects of it and the theories behind it. My observation is that you are up in their head, but you need to get into your heart so you can start to heal. To Amy’s point, there are many ways to process a loss. For me, I see you avoiding your feelings and looking for a logical way to feel better. From experience, that didn’t work for me. Grief is not logical. You can’t think it away. Perhaps, if you give yourself permission to truly, and deeply, feel your feelings, that can give you some relief and diminish your suffering.
Christie said, “Wow. OK. We’re really doing this now. Ok. Care, I love you. We love you. This is getting pretty intense for me. I can hardly breath and could use another drink. How about you Cari?” Christie nervously looked around the room and said, “Is anyone else with me? Bueller? Anyone?”
Cari said tersely, “I am sorry if I brought all of you down. I guess I’ll make sure to be all ‘love this and light that’ from now on.”
“Care, I acknowledge your discomfort and anger,” said Linda. “And you have my empathy. Grief is a touchy subject because it’s such a personal experience. It profoundly changes you and it never truly ends. You can’t escape it. Each one of us will have a different experience with it. Look, I honor your loss and experience. It’s been a few years since Kevin passed. We will never forget him, and we will never forget you are his mother, and all of us are concerned about your well-being now.”
Linda glanced at Christie. Christie said, “Good job.”
“Christie. Not. Now..” said Linda.
“Oh right. Got it. Sorry Linda.” said Christie.
Cari pulled her hand back from the group. She ran her hand through her hair. There it was. That was her trademark nervous tic.
“Cari, let me help you with some of this. What do you say?” said Linda.
Amy looked at Cari and said, “Care, we’re always here for you. We love you and are concerned. It’s hard to see your suffering. I wish I could do more for you.”
Cari replied, “Linda. Everyone. A part of me is angry with all of you,” a pause, “but I know who you are. You mean well. Linda, I can be open. Let’s see what you have in mind. OK?”
“Ok and thank you.” said Linda.
Christie looked around the room and said to the group, “Are we ok? This is so intense for me. She paused and said, “This is so stressful. I need another drink and a new toast. To our beloved friend, Cari. We love and support you. Mwah!”
Amy replied, “Cheers to Cari, and Kevin, of course!” The group said, “Cheers!” as they all raised their glasses and drank to them.
There are many ways to process the loss of a loved one like Cari losing her son, Kevin. If you or someone you know is processing loss, consider a gift box filled with positive rituals, care, and love. Sometimes, the simple act of giving one of our gift boxes helps someone find a way of processing loss.
Thank you for reading.
Founder at Robiins
Processing Loss. One gift box at a time. ™
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