Grief recovery, loss of child, healing after death & loss 

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Michelle Shelton 480-577-8272
Home Articles by Michelle Grieving with Grace

Grieving with Grace

Grieving with Grace.

Two years ago today at 10:41 AM, my life changed forever. My son, Phillip, braked for a slow moving vehicle and lost control of his car and slammed into a tree and then the car burned up. The good news? He and his passenger died in seconds, most likely before the fire. That was as good as the news got for me.

The Struggle of Unfinished Business

I have struggled to not lose myself in the last two years. There was a lawsuit since Paul rented the car for Phil they had to find that he was negligent in doing so and then they could sue us. So they proved that the father, who had also lost his son, was negligent so they could extract money from our insurance. After all, it was just our insurance company paying, it's not like we are the ones paying. Except for the phone calls with attorneys being cross-examed. As if he didn't feel guilty already.

Blaming Others for my Loss

Then the mother of the girl decided she wanted to see if Toyota was responsible and pursued them. I didn't think there was anything wrong with the car but I jumped on the band wagon and said, let's pursue it. If there was something wrong with the car, they can pay us, if not, no harm no foul.

He was just a Kid

All the time, I thought Phil was simply a 22 year old man who was driving too fast on his way to San Diego. Turns out, that is exactly what happened. I don't blame him. Lord knows it could have been me many times in my 20's. I don't think our brains begin working correctly with consequences until we are at least 25. I will speak for myself though, I know MY brain didn't.

Another Piece of the Puzzle gets Resolved

We got a call three weeks ago and were told the black box from the car had finally been analyzed and it showed that the accelerator did not stick. He was driving fast and came up on a slow moving vehicle and instead of hitting them, he swerved and lost control. My brain went to, why didn't you just hit them? If they were moving at 60, you could have hit them and no one would have died. But that is not what happened.

Creating a New Normal

I remember the day the police came to the door. It was like taking a pendulum and swinging it so far the other way. Our normal, happy life, had just been hit but Huricane Katrina. Everything we had built and worked for seemed unimportant. It seemed as if any glimpse of happy was gone forever.

Fast forward two years. The pendulum has swung back and is settling into a new normal. I don't think it will ever level out. I am not sure if normal is the correct word for me…it is the words all the books use.

The kids are each handeling it in their own way. Some of them have told all of their friends and some of them have not even told their closest friends. The friends that have been around for years, of course they know and we simply don't talk about it. Or I should say, THEY don't talk about it. I talk about it (meaning Phil) all the time.

Handeling Grief with Grace

One day while talking to a friend, I heard myself saying I wanted to learn to handle grief with grace. When I think of grace I think of being polite, classy, poised. I looked it up in the dictonary and this is what I found. Grace: a way of moving that is smooth and attractive and that is not stiff or awkward. When I read this, I realized that it would take me years to not be awkward with Phils death. A sobbing mother is anything but attractive and smooth.

I asked myself, so I want to look good? Was this really about looking good? No. I want to FEEL graceful. I want to feel smooth and move through it in an attractive way.

Reality Check about Grief

The feelings are anything but graceful. They are awkward, rough, volitile, ugly. As I realized what grace truly was about, I stopped and said, I don't need to look good doing this. All I need to do is be true to myself and regain my strength. I can show others that things don't have to look good to be effective. I have come to realize that grief is natural, normal. It is the biggest part of life we all must one day face. Each of us knows comming in that there might not be a tomorrow.

So I will awkwardly walk this walk and accept your hand. I know when I meet strangers and friends alike and I tell them what has happened, they have a knowing inside. The tears well up, they have either lost someone close to them or they have a realziation that in this life, if you live long enough, you will lose someone you cannot imagine life without. It doesn't have to be graceful. There is not right or wrong when it comes to grieving. It can look how it looks. As Phillip used to say, "It's all good mom."

So if you are grieving. It is awkward. You will drop the ball, checkout and get angry. You will most likely ask why and may even blame yourself from time to time. This is all part of the new normal. Part of the muddling through. Part of the awkwardness.

What Grace Really is

For me…the grace isn't about looking good for others. It has become about being plesant with myself. Not eating myself to death, not compounding problems by drinking excessive amounts of wine. I love my life and this is why it was so difficult to lose Phil as I loved his life too. For me…the grace is about being plesant with myself, being okay with myself and not being awkward with myself.

So now, I strive to have grace with myself. In otherwords, when grief comes up and I blame myself, get angry or chip away at me, I stop and say, is this a plesant way of behaving with MYSELF? Is this making things smooth for me? Will this make me feel attractive? To me, this is grieving with grace.

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