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Getting on with Grief

Updated on July 1, 2013

What do you do after losing your child?

People frequently ask me how I cope with the death of my son. Sometimes I want to scream at them. How do you think I cope? I don't know how they expect me to behave.

I have even been asked if I still think of him. Do they imagine I have forgotten? As if a few years could wipe out the memories of that terrible phone call, the 3,750 km dash to the far north of the continent, the dreadful hours in the hospital, or the final heart-breaking goodbye.

Oh yes, I still think of him. He still shows up in my dreams and, on waking, the relentless grief hits me again.

How do I cope? How does any mother cope? Because we do, because we have no choice, because there is no other option.

The Three Worst Things ever said to me

Please don't say this to anyone

Why do people say such things? These words have been said to me more than once. I know that they're meant to be comforting but they have the opposite effect.

- It's not so bad. You have other children

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but children are individuals.Just because you have a few doesn't mean you can manage without one of them.

- It's not too late for you to have more children

Even if I did have more children, one person cannot replace another. Can you replace your child? Children aren't commodities. If you lose one you don't send out for a replacement.

- He's waiting for you in Heaven

Even if I believed in Heaven, and I don't, I want him here with me now

Strange Memories

Always a child

When my son makes his weekly entrance into my dreams he is always a child.

He never comes to me as the young man he was.

In those dreams I'm always trying to catch him as he falls, to save him from wolves (I know, there are no wolves in Australia but that's dreams for you) or to find him because he's lost.

I've come to accept that these dreams will always recur, that they will be with me until I, too, die but it's certainly a strange mental quirk that I never see him grown.

A couple of times I have tried to picture him, like prodding a sore tooth, but my memory baulks at the young adult. It stays with the little boy.

He was a born athlete

My son was born leaping. Right from the start he was a squirmer, a jumper, and when he began to walk he was off at a sprint. By the time he was three years old, I had trouble catching him.

He was a fabulous runner, he could leap over his pedal cars when he was two, although he picked up a few bruises before he perfected the technique.

From the time he was six, he entered the room leaping. It was such a trial to have him around, this constantly leaping boy. He landed softly and often I turned round to find him suddenly right behind me, breathing loudly, just having landed within 6 inches of the casserole dish in my hands.

He was an incredible climber. A top class swimmer, an agile roller skater, an excellent left boot goal-kicker and an all round adrenalin-rush freak.

It was his search for adventure that proved to be too much for him

On a lonely bush track in the Northern Territory my son Marcus was seriously injured in a car accident. He died four days later.

He was a great little footballer

He was a great little footballer
He was a great little footballer

There are plenty of mothers who suffer through the death of a child. I have since met a dozen women who share the same grief.

This is how I remember my son

Do you ever get over it?

You don't get over it. It's totally unreasonable to expect to get over it. Everything has changed. You're changed. The world looks different because it is different. You are forever different.

You don't get over it. You get on with it.

A truly valuable resource

Does it ever get any better?

The pain never goes away but you can, over time, handle it better.

All comments are welcome.. You don't have to be a Squidoo member to leave yours.

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    • Paul Ward profile image


      6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      "You don't get over it. You get on with it." Blessed.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image


      6 years ago

      You've shared your leaping son with the world by writing this Squidoo article. He certainly was a beautiful boy and, I'm sure, a very loving son. There's no words to help you ease the pain of every day living without him but I am sorry for your loss.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you for sharing that beautiful photo of the two of you together, and the useful information to those who just don't know what to say. {{{hugs}}} and blessings.

    • rorymullen lm profile image

      rorymullen lm 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for hsaring the photos and the information. My YAYA died almost three years ago, and with that death, I had finally experienced a death in my family. Sheltered Yes, but I learned that even with death, people can leave a lasting message.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      There is never anything powerful enough to say to someone who has lost a part of themselves. The photo of you and your son, Marcus, made me cry. It is so beautiful and poignant.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I think I understand Susan.

      The memories are always there of those who are gone, but nothing can bring them back to us. We live with the reality that one day we also have to go, everything in this world is ephemeral, things are bound to change.So what we should do with our life? We should live life to the fullest as if we are going to die tomorrow.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for this Susanna. So true. I share the pain of loss such as this. My son Kit died in 2006 and even though I have 3 more sons with me...I ache for my Kit. Every day is different but yet the same. Different because he's gone and I can't hold him or protect him...the same because the feelings of loss are so strong and difficult to cope with.

      I've had someone say to me that they know how I feel because they lost their dog. Yes I know it hurts to lose anything you love but no it's not the same thing. To lose our child is the most horrendous, devastating grief.

      Like you I want my boy here...NOW.

      Thank you so much for your lovely words. I hope that they help others try to understand such loss.

      Thank you


    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      @indigoj: Seems I still have some angel powers. Angel Blessed.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      That is such a beautiful photo of the two of you. I just don't think there are words, at least not those from strangers and passing acquaintances, that can offer anything to a mum who has lost a child (unless from those who have experienced something similar). So I will only say that I am glad the donkeys will have some care and love thanks to your SSA win. Definitely sounds like Marcus would have approved!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Your son was truly beautiful Susanna. I don't know what to say because even though we've all lost someone we love, nothing is as bad as losing a child, and I'm so very sorry.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for your observations. We lost our 34 year old son, at Christmas, near his birthday, and you covered it faith was tested (angels don't mean much to me now), and like you, even if I try to believe in Heaven, I want him here now, where I can enjoy him. No comfort there. So many similarities; bittersweet memories, a beautiful person gone. I am changed forever. More somber, tears away from melancholy, I fight daily to go on.....after all, a child is an investment of love and time that once gone, leaves one with a hole nothing can fill. Not another child. Unfortunately, it's not like in the book Old Yeller. I question every day as a mother, could I have done something better, spent more time, held him more? I could go on, but you nailed it for me. May you at least have a bit of comfort in knowing you have helped other mothers cope through you lovely revelations. Thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I truly feel for you Susanna. Its good that you have shared this with the everyone to read. No one can fully understand our grief for an individual, as individuals. I lost a baby boy that I will never see grow up. - Its interesting that Marcus only comes to you as a child in your dreams, and you are trying to save him. My hope is that angels will bless your dreams with Marcus and they will be full of peace. Bless your heart!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      So heart wrenchingly honest, Susanna! It isn't easy to dig deep within our souls to write about this kind of pain, but thank you for doing so. You will help more people than you know who have suffered the same loss and you are never goes away, it is always a loss but we do find ways to get on. A very well deserved Sunshine Award!

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      My closer aunt lost her two sons and changed for ever; I think she, herself, doesn't know why and how she's still alive. Another aunt lost one child out of four (she got 2 twin pairs) and never was the same since her horrible loss in the year 1978.

      To be honest, I don't know nor want to ask you how you do to survive, it wouldn't be decent from me to ask such question; I just don't know how do people survive to the loss of a child. Perhaps you MUST live for the others. I think I'd kill myself whenever I'd have to lose mine. Don't know what to say, so I'm going to keep silent.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      So sorry for your loss. Thanks for bravely sharing your story with us.

      Congratulations on your Sunshine Award! Thanks to your work, you and Longhopes have earned $99!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      8 years ago

      For once in my life I'm lost for words. All the best, allways.

    • squid-janices7 profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this touching lens. Congrats to you and to the Longhopes Donkey Shelter on winning the Sunshine Award. Well-deserved!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I lost a daughter many years ago. This lens is "right on" as far as my experience is concerned. Thanks for sharing your experience is such a beautiful way. I second the "Well deserved award winner" comment.

    • burgessvillian profile image


      8 years ago

      I can't imagine any parent getting over the death of their child. This is a beautiful tribute and it deserves the sunshine award.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Susanna, I am so touched by this lens. So pleased to see you get this Sunshine Award but so sad at the same time.

    • MichelleLacroix profile image

      Michelle Lacroix Toro 

      8 years ago from United States

      Poignant and touching. This is a well deserved award winner.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Congratulations on your Sunshine Award! Well deserved.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      My dearest Susanna, this portrait of your loss is heartwrenching and beautiful at the same time. I think that it is amazing what people can survive. Well deserved Sunshine Award win.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Susanna, I am so very sorry for your loss. I'm glad you have your son in your dreams and hope that the dreams bring a smile to your face, even if they bring a tear to your eye. This is a beautiful tribute lens. Congratulations on the Summer Sunshine award!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Dear Susanna, my condolences. You're so right. You never get over it; you just get on. Your mother and son photograph is a perfect portrait of love.

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image


      8 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      You've experienced and expressed the fear that all parents feel...I can't put into words how this lens has made me feel but I'll be hugging my two sons very tightly when they come home...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh Susanna! I cannot honestly imagine your grief. I do think you are right - all you do is get on with it - no one ever "gets over" the loss of a child. Your photographs are wonderful treasures. Thank you for sharing them.

      Congratulations on your win and thank you for telling your story.

    • LoKackl profile image


      8 years ago

      Sometime after my 16-year-old daughter died instantly from a 1983 car wreck, I heard or read, "Now I take my place in step among the immense parade of the grief-stricken." It felt oddly comforting. I'm not sure why. I LOVE the photo of you and your son. Two gorgeous people! Congratulations, indeed on the Summer Sunshine Award!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      8 years ago from California

      Maybe the people that need to hear this message will. You said it so well...there is no "getting over it" just getting on with it. Best to you....

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This must have been so hard to write but it is a beautiful tribute to your son. I can't even begin to imagine the pain you must be going through. Thank you for sharing these precious memories of your son. This lens is nominated for the Sunshine Award and featured on Squidoo's Summer Sunshine Award Nominees. Good Luck.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh Susanna. I did not know this. You are right, there are no words to make you feel better or get over it. I'm going to vote for the Sunshine Award in his memory. Sending you a big hug.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 

      8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      A very heart felt lens Susanna. A fearless leaping son. <3

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 

      8 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      I'm not very good at saying the right thing at times like this so I'll just say thank you. For sharing this very personal story about a very real fear that one day I too may have to endure such a dreadful event as this.

    • giacombs-ramirez profile image

      gia combs-ramirez 

      8 years ago from Montana

      Ahhh, Susanna, you broke my heart today. As a mother of a young boy-man, I often fear this very tragedy. The portrait of you and your son is so beautiful. And now I'm going to say something that might become the next "don't ever say this...." I read that only 2% of parents who lose a child are actually with them when they die. As horrible as the tragedy is/was, I'm glad you were with him.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      wow, what does one say, what a tribute to both of you and to all who grieve the loss of a child, well done telling the stroy in ways we can all connect

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I really do know how you feel. The very worst for me is when I dream of my daughter and I think (in my dream) "It's OK, she's back, it was a nightmare" and feeling so happy. Even waking up happy and smiling and then the awful truth hits me, that was the dream. The nightmare was reality.

      Blessed by an Angel.


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