Standing by a friend

When there are no words

 Tomorrow a dear friend will bury her only child, a son.  Jon was 28 when he died in an accident last week. 

 When I got the news of  Jon’s death, my hands immediately went to my face.  I then got a severe headache.

My friend, Mary, just recently underwent her second operation in the past 18 months.  She quit her job.  She had never been sick before.  I’ve been quite concerned about her.  Mary is a very private person, so I don’t know the nature of her illness.  I just know that I wished I could do something to offer her comfort.  Even through her illness, she is a ray of sunshine.  But you can see in her eyes that she is not well.

When I learned that Jon had been killed, it was like a knife went through my heart.  I was numb.  Later, I cried for my friend.

When you lose anyone close, you must, of course move on.  When you lose a child, however, you never totally get over it.  I know.  My own son, my oldest, died in an auto accident 11 years ago.  I never got to say good-bye. 

Hopefully, Mary will allow herself to grieve.  Hopefully, there will be some things I can do to support her in the days after the funeral, when everyone goes back to their routines.  Perhaps Mary will want me to just sit with her in silence.  Or maybe she’ll want to recall her warmest memories of Jon.

I didn’t grieve for my son for five years.  I was busy trying to be strong for everyone else.  I even insisted on identifying the body because even though I come from a family of mostly males, I knew the men couldn’t handle it.   So I did it myself.

I went back to work the next day after the funeral.  I couldn’t stand the quietness of the house.  I had sent my other children to school so that they could be around their friends.

You tread into perilous territory if you delay the grieving process as I did.  Five years after my own son’s death, one night as I was driving home from work, I just burst into tears.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  After the crying continued for several days, I went to see my doctor. 

She said, “I have been waiting for this.  It’s taken you all this time to finally start grieving for Raymond.”  ( Raymond was my son’s name.)

I didn’t know it at the time, but the lights went out for me when my son died.  I went through the motions of getting on with my life.  I buried any feelings I had of grief.  I really had myself fooled.

Tomorrow I will attend Jon’s funeral.  Afterwards, I will compile a notebook of prayers and scriptures to give to my friend Mary.  She may read them right away.  She may not.  But one day those prayers and scriptures will sustain her.

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August 21, 2006. Friends/Family, Life, Personal.

4 Comments

  1. Alina Popescu replied:

    So sorry to hear about both Jon and your son, Raymond. I have not experienced this on my own, neither did my mom, but intuitively I am sure it is the hardest thing a mother can go through. Hope you can help your friend in any way possible, even if it is only pieces of advice and comforting her in silence.

  2. Naomi replied:

    Thanks, Alina. My friend, who was also my co-worker at my last job, is one of the strongest people I know. She has never complained once about tough times.

    She has been a source of inspiration for me over the past year. She was crushed when I lost my job.

    One of the brightest points of the last few months was that I ran into my friend at a shopping mall while she was recovering form her recent surgery. Her husband had taken her there to go to a movie and to get her out of the house.

    I thought I was seeing a vision when I saw Mary. I had my daughter and the baby with me. We all hugged.

    Mary probably bought at least one-third of all the baby clothes we received before my daughter had the baby. Mary will never own up to it. Her gifts were included in a shower given by mutual friends. These friends say Mary really bought a lot of things for the baby. But her name isn’t on one gift.

    That’s the way she is.

    My legs and feet have swollen since I wrote this post. The long shifts at the casino – and being on my feet the entire time – has been a culture shock to my body. I hope the swelling goes down in time for me to attend the funeral. As it is right now, I can’t get into my shoes.

    Thanks so much for your kind words. They mean a lot.

  3. shirazi replied:

    That is one of the hardest parts in life. But we all have to live, notwithstanding sorrows and loss of near and dear ones. Please accept my condolences.

  4. Naomi replied:

    Of course, you are right, Shirazi. Thank you for your condolences. You are very kind.

    By the way, there was a big turnout for the funeral, adults and children. Considering that the service was held on a weekday – when adults are normally at work and children at school – that says a lot. What a testimony to Jon and his wonderful parents.

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