Friday, September 24, 2010


Integration is a word I hear a lot in my grief sessions and from my therapy friends. In this context it means that grieving parents must learn to integrate their grief into their new lives without their children. With many other kinds of grief, the grief is short term and the person moves on. Not so with grieving parents. Their grief is for life.

This is not to say that the parent is stuck at the same level of grief or at the same point of their life. Instead, grief moves with you, becomes a part of you, is integrated into your life. Here, grief is a moving, fluid thing that becomes part of you.

The hard part of all of this for me, and probably for all parents, is to integrate something I do not want, something I never asked for. It's like being tied to a big, black, heavy ball and chain and having to lug it around . . . forever. The pain of carrying this big, heavy ball is so big, so deep, that at times it feels as if a series of Exacto knives are being twisted around my insides. Sometimes the pain is more bearable and then at the oddest moments I am doubled over in agony. That level of grief can last for days.

So many grieving parents have told me that it will get better over time and I do believe them. And, while my heavy ball will always be with me, over time I will also have integrated it well enough into my life that it seems lighter. It will become more manageable because I am more used to it. At least, that is what I hope for.

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