It’s almost Christmas and New Year again. It’s time to rethink what happened to us this year. We need to make sure that we need to learn from the errors we made and we need to especially remember the good things that happened to us.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
This topic is not about your bereavement because you lost someone who is very dear to you. It is not about processing your grief because of a separation. No, it’s not all about that, it’s about a different kind of loss. A loss that is invisible to others. A loss where your “emotional weather” can be very severe and which can affect you for years to come.
The topic is about a type or form of loss that has a major impact on you. And, when you try to discuss this loss or the effects it has on you, the other person doesn’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.
I do hope that I have started you wondering by now what this topic is about and also that you are still with me by continuing to read this.
Let me give you one example to make things clear.
When our children were born, first our daughter and later our son, they were both diagnosed by our pediatrician having Cystic Fibrosis. My wife though was deep down in her heart convinced that our son was not diagnosed correctly. My wife stopped with her job, which she loved, and treated our two children at home. When they grew older our daughter and son were treated together in the same room while my wife read stories to them and regularly they were also doing other fun activities. This happened twice a day and it took quite some time to treat them; they became very close.
You can imagine that our family was well known in the hospital since our children were on average once a month in the out-patient clinic for a check. Our pediatrician retired and the one who replaced him wanted to know our family better. During the interview my wife mentioned her doubt again about our son’s diagnosis. Our children were retested and the outcome was confirming my wife’s gut feeling. Our son was tested OK and you can imagine that we were euphoric on the one hand and that we were very sad because the diagnosis for our daughter was confirmed. We could stop our son’s treatment immediately, but I made the decision to slowly reduce his treatment which also was supported by our pediatrician.
My wife continued to treat our daughter during which our son was playing in the same room and was also listening to my wife’s stories.
About 15 years later, sometime after the death of our daughter, we were discussing the above with our son and we were shocked by his response. Our son was angry with me all that time because I made the decision not to treat him anymore. Although he was in the same room when my wife treated our daughter, he didn’t feel he got the same amount of attention.
During those 15 years our daughter was always in our thought. During those years we were always afraid that it could be the last year of her life. Our son was OK, he didn’t need that maybe overwhelming attention our daughter needed. It took all of us quite a while to fully understand the impact it had on our son. Imagine, over a period of about 15 years he was angry with me that I made the decision not to treat him anymore which resulted in less attention from us to him, while at the same were so happy that my wife knew from day one that our son was healthy, very healthy indeed. But also imagine the missed opportunities.
So here we are, a family of four persons. A daughter who needs to be treated every day and knows that she will have a short live span. That she is different compared to other children of her age and I assume you do understand what that meant to her. A son who is angry at me because in his opinion he got less attention since I made the decision to stop his treatment. The relationship with his mother was accelerated in a great way during his puberty. And to me, in a nut shell, I was just the bad guy. A mother who is on the one hand euphoric that her son was well and OK and on the other hand was in and in sad because she lived with the thought that each year could be her daughter’s last one. A father who was travelling all over the place for his job and was helping at home whenever he could. The bills for his daughter’s treatment were staggering high and his biggest fear was losing his job hence he tried to become the best in his trade.
So here we are, a family of four living close together and having bad days and having great days. They were caring for each other, they were communicating with each other but, the real questions were not asked and the real issues were not brought to the table.
So here we are, a family of three trying to cope with the loss of a daughter and a sister. Finally talking to each other and slowly trying to understand what really happened, what they could have done and should have done.
So we are, a family of two trying to cope with the loss of a mother, a sister, a daughter and a wife. Finally understanding the questions we should have asked each other and finally understanding what we should have done. So many lost opportunities.
Dear reader, I provided just one exemple and do know that my family is not the only family to have this kind off loss. There are many, many families dealing with the same kind of loss and knowingly or unknowingly are trying to survive somehow. My request to you is to look at each family member and ask yourself if you really know and understand all feelings, emotions and issues between the two of you. My next request to you is to put yourself in the position of the other person and ask yourself those same questions again.
Dear reader, don’t make the same mistake I made. So please ask yourself those questions and when done compare notes with each other and listen to each other. It’s an excellent way to know and try to understand each other’s points of view. It’s a great way to build a solid foundation for making the decisions in your family so you can reduce or prevent a loss where the “emotional weather” of a member of your family could be very severe and which could affect her or him for years to come. It’s worth the effort.