When   my   wife   and   I   were      told      that      our      sixteen      year   old   son Jonathan   had   terminal   cancer,   it   felt   like   I   was   flayed.   From   that moment   till   he   died   and   for   months   thereafter   everything   felt   like salt   on   my   burning   flesh.   Of   the   many   friends   I   had   made   two   or three   called;   most   preferred   to   ‘leave   us   alone’.   I   was   told:   ‘he   is   in a   better   place’;   ‘time   heals   everything’;   ‘you   have   to   move   on’;   ‘get over   it’;   ‘the   lord   gives   and   the   lord   takes’;   ‘you   have   to   be   back   at work    in    ten    days    that’s    the    law,    I    don’t    care’;    ‘remove    all photographs   of   your   son’;   it   is   long   enough,   stop   this   whining’; ‘you   must   get   over   this’;   ‘don’t   look   at   pictures   of   your   son;’   ‘forget about   him’;   ‘he   was   sick   for   so   long   it   is   better   this   way’   etc.   A friend   who   claims   he   ‘hears   God’s   voice’   while   praying   and   ‘lives according   to   the   Bible’   turned   vicious   and   accused   me   of   stealing, conniving and corruption.  Having   experienced   my   child   die,   I   know   how   extremely   painful, heart      breaking,   lonely   and   desperately   frightening   this   journey   is. No words can take away the pain; it cannot be overcome; and telling me my child is in a better place is no consolation at all.  Grief   journey :   This   journey   I   am   on   is   not   of   my   choosing.   I   did not   plan   or   prepare   for   it.   Being   now   on   this   journey,   I   am learning   and   have   begun   to   compare   it   to   a   forest   of   which   I know   not   the   terrain.   I   know   not   how   thick   the   forest   is,   if   there are   wild   animals,   quick-sand   or   wolves   pretending   to   be   sheep or   even   how   long   it   will   take   me   to   get   out   of   it.   I   get   information on    what    to    expect    from    many,    but    most    are    like    traffic announcers   who   are   not   in   the   storm   or   in   this   forest   I   am   in. Can   they   map   out   my   path,   tell   me   its   nature,   where   it   leads   or   if I   will   encounter   wild   animals,   quick-sand   and   wolves?   One   that has travelled this forest or lives in it can tell me what it is like. This   is   my   journey,   I   have   to   travel   my   journey .   Contrary   to what   some   tell   me   that   I   must   forget   my   son,   get   over   him, resolve,    surpass    and    forget    the    grief    or    that    my    faith    is weak/non-existent     and     that     this     is     God’s     consequential punishment,   my   experience   is   that   grief   is   not   an   obstacle   to   get   over,   a   mountain   to   climb   or   the   wrath   of   God.   Rather   it   is   the consequence   of   having   been   ripped   apart   from   one   that   I   loved   deeply. The   grief   and   pain   is   directly   proportional   to   the   depth   of   love between   me   and   my   son.   Like   love,   this   grief   and   pain   are   parts   of   me,   integrated   with   my   Spirit,   and   an   experience   that   Spirit   travels with.   I   am   learning   to   live   with   grief,   as   I   learned   to   live   with   my   fractured   left   leg   that   after   40   years   still   brings   memories   of   my childhood bicycle accident. If   I   fear   the   sun   and   run   way   from   it,   a   shadow   will   loom   ahead   of   me   and   the   further   I   run   the   bigger   it   will   get.    When   I   face the   sun,   the   shadow   is   behind   me.   Similarly   I   must   face   my   grief   and   not   run   away.   That   is   the   only   way.   Grief   is   not   a   problem   to   be solved,   a   mountain   to   be   climbed   or   a   obstacle   to   be   overcome.   I   broke   my   leg   40   years   ago   and   still   limp   as   a   result,   but   I   walk, play,   dance   and   do   other   things.   I   have   experienced   the   death   of my   son   and   the   resultant   pain   and   grief   is   something   I   walk   my life   journey   with.   Grief   is   neither   made   up   nor   an   act   as   some   say it   is.   It   is   very   real,   it   is   felt   by   the   senses   and   more   so   by   Spirit. One   cannot   turn   away   from   it   or   hide   it   under   the   bed.   One   has   to face   it.   This   is   why   I   am   studying   pain   and   grief   through   my personal    experience    and    by    associating    with    others    having similar experiences. If   you   are   in   a   similar   situation,   I   offer   you   my   friendship.   I   am neither   a   counsellor   nor   a   coach,   I   am   just   someone   who   is finding   my   way   through   this   forest,   I   do   not   know   what   to   expect, when   and   where.   But   I   hope   that   we   can   maneuver   this   journey together,   borrow   each   other’s   strength   and   when   wild   animals   or wolves   attack   we   will   find   a   way   to   endure   and   continue   on   our journey. Sometimes we will cry, and sometimes our pain will be as wondrous as our joy! - Vince Leitao  
Vince Leitao - Author and Experiential Grief Student
Don’t run away from grief, o’Soul…look for the remedy inside the pain - Jalalad-Din Rumi
© Copyright 2018 Vince Leitao. All rights reserved
Bereavement is described as: To be deprived of a loved one as a result of a profound experience or death