Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grown-Up Motherless Child

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home
A long way from home...

Like someone who belongs to a twelve-step organization, with a few words I can say an awful lot about myself. For me, it's not

"Hi, I'm Sue, and I'm an alcoholic..."


"Hi, I'm Sue. My mother died when I was nine years old."

Motherless children understand right away that this is just the beginning of a story about loss, about a world turned upside down, and how we survive to become who we finally are.

Sometimes I like to put my loss in a historical context. I'm part of the generation known as Baby Boomers. Most of us in this demographic remember how old we were and what we were doing on November 22, 1963. Young president Kennedy, father of two, was waving at crowds in the early afternoon, and was dead by the end of the day. I was nine years old, in fourth grade at St. Jude's Catholic School in Elyria, Ohio. This was the first time someone I cared about had died. It was shocking and incomprehensible. I lost some of my innocence that day, along with the rest of America.

Almost four months later, on March 15, 1964, my mother collapsed in a church service, was taken to the hospital, and never came home. She died two days later. That was a lifetime ago. Memories of that time are dim, and yet that time affected who I became more than any other event.

Some people view life through rose-colored glasses. Loss has become a subtly colored lens through which I see the world. I don't even realize it most of the time. I've been tested and found strength while navigating a difficult road, and somehow, I've become useful.

I spend a lot of my workday talking with people about the grief process. I walk in a well-known part of my landscape, helping people who are in territory that is unfamiliar to them. I've written articles for a bereavement newsletter we publish at work, and sometimes have a column in a local paper. Posting my thoughts online seems like a natural progression.

I also journal, and from there learned to write music. When I post here, I will tell my own stories, talk about things I've learned from years of talking to bereaved people, and may add lyrics from some of my songs. This will not be just about loss, but about living. I am a survivor. I'm not the person I would have been, but I think I'm the person I was meant to be.

Here is where I plan to share my thoughts. Please feel free to add your comments.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sue-

    Just wanted to pass along a note of thanks for sharing the links to Dr. Wolfelt's page at my blog. They were very helpful and put a lot of my fears at ease.

    In Him and around the corner (and excited about starting WARM Place training tonight),