My Son Matthew

by Marilyn
(PA)

Matthew was our second child. He was a typical second child, giving and sharing, and quiet. He was a good kid and was excellent in school. He graduated from Pitt Law School and was accepted into the Maryland bar. Matt was on his way to make a difference in the world, especially with environmental law. He would of helped a lot of people.

Matthew died of a bursted aneurysm in his brain. No indication was given that he was in trouble. We are fortunate that he was with all his friends and he was not alone when it struck. We had to travel 2 hours to get to him and say our goodbyes.

We never heard his voice again after he left us for the weekend with friends. We do remember that he was packing his car and he stopped to help me unload the groceries from the car.

Now that he is gone and we are going through his things we have found several empty bottles of pain relievers. So he was having symptoms but being young and invincible he probably did not think to mention that he was in pain.

The anger in me, I know will pass. Why did he not say he was having headaches that won't go away? Why did he not tell me something is not right? Those questions are the ones that go through my mind more. Of course, if I would of told him to go to the doctor, he probably would of put it off.

I loved my son, and I am now having a hard time showing my husband the grief. He is not attentive to my needs, but I think he is trying to take care of his. So I grieve alone at this time. I can only hope we reconnect.

We do have two other children and two grandchildren and I can hope that they understand what we are feeling. We told them both we are not forgetting about them but we need to take care of us and the sadness. We love them dearly. We do ask them how they are doing and feeling, but neither one will really express it to us. I hope we are doing right by them.

Thanks for the outlet to say this. I cannot express this to anyone else.

Comments for My Son Matthew

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Dec 24, 2009
A father and a brother
by: Anonymous

My heart goes out to all of you mothers, especially Marilyn. I could echo much of what you all have said, but won't only because you've already said it and I see no need to repeat it.

As a father, however, I feel compelled to offer something from my experience, which is different from what you experience as mothers, but also different from what you expressed about fathers.

A couple of things are true, and I'll acknowledge them now. We fathers / husbands do tend to feel as though we are supposed to fix things. That's not universally true, but it is a valid generalization. Also, fathers do grieve differently from mothers, but then any one mother is likely to grieve differently from another. People are different and we each respond to loss in our own way.

What I want to emphasize, though, is that your husbands are grieving, too. Even the stepfather may be grieving just as much, but in a different way. Men (again, a generalization) do tend to have greater difficulty in communicating their feelings than women, and it sounds like this fits each of your families, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't there. When you feel the need to share with your husbands, do so, but remember that they're grieving too and that their failure to respond or their inadequate response may be due to their own grief more than to a failure to appreciate your grief.

And to the other children (it sounds like they're adults)--expect that they won't understand the extent of your grief. I was a grieving brother (for a younger sister) several years before I was a grieving father. Although I recognized the pain my parents were going through, I had no clue about how deep or long lasting it was, until I became the grieving parent myself.

Jul 21, 2009
Thanks for your time
by: Jennie

Dear Anonymous Mother:

Thanks so much for your kindness and generosity in sharing your thoughts with this newly grieving mother.

There were 3 main points that you brought up very eloquently and accurately:

1. Try to understand that men think that they have to "fix everything". (They don't. All we women want is for them to listen to our woes and validate our right to these feelings).

2. Mothers ALWAYS feel guilty. We are supposed to protect our kids from harm. That is our job! (Please try to accept that you could not control your adult child or dictate his destiny for him).

3. You must take care of yourself, as you will need YOU later, when your grieving is done and you come back to life. (And when you do come back, make a concerted effort to love and support your other children. Do not abandon them or sacrifice their lives to your lost child. That would creat yet another tragedy.)

Your story, Anonymous, will surely help Marilyn a lot. I have rarely seen the whole thing put into words so effectively.

Thanks again from all of us.
Jennie

Jul 21, 2009
From Another Mother
by: Anonymous

Dear Marilyn,

I am so sorry for the loss of your son. I have discovered that grief is a very lonely place to be. I, too, lost my young adult son this year.

I have discovered that everyone grieves in their own way and often times we cannot even see the grief in others. I have one older son who I try to be there for, however, my heart isn't in it as before. I'm not going to beat myself up for that. This is where I am at and I just need to "be" as I am right now.

Personally, I tend to grieve and cry in private. It is very difficult for me to cry in front of my husband even. He gets this panicked look on his face and doesn't know what to do, even though I've told him he doesn't have to try to "fix it." I also know he grieves for my pain. He is not the father of my son and although he loved him and grieves too, even he knows it's not the same.

I have not found myself angry at my son, though that may come. I've only found myself heartbroken that he would not or could not tell us how bad he was feeling. I've been more angry at myself at times for not seeing what I think I should have seen. As a mother, it's difficult to accept that I could not save my son, that I didn't take care of him as a mother should, and that somehow I failed him.

My logical brain, however, knows that this is nonsense, but it doesn't always stop the guilt. My son committed suicide. He had a hidden illness just as your son did.

Keep writing, keep sharing your feelings even if it is only through this venue or try a support group for grieving the loss of a child, and keep taking care of yourself. For myself, I know that if I do not take care of myself now and allow myself to grieve for however long it takes, that I will not have anything for anyone else in the future.

Today, we just have excruciating heartache and sorrow and that's just the way it is. I've had to give myself permission to just be whatever it is I am on any given day, any given hour or any given minute.

Again, I am so sorry for the loss of your son and for your pain. No parent should have to go through this, yet we do. Be kind to yourself.

Another Mother


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