Doris, one of my best friends, lost her only son, Patrick, in a freak auto accident. He was riding home on Ashley River Road in Charleston, SC near the entrance of Middleton Plantation when a large tree suddenly fell across the road forming a bridge between the high banks on either side of the road. The car traveling directly in front of Patrick passed beneath the tree without incident but Patrick’s car, a higher riding Jeep, did not.
“If only” plagued my friend for months after the accident. Anger, with the Department of Transportation for not inspecting the trees lining the road for signs of weakening after the damaging winds of hurricane Hugo or the heavy rains that had recently fallen burned within her. Other emotions surfaced too. Envy of mothers with sons still living and sadness that bordered on bitterness as she watched them celebrate events in their sons’ lives that she and her family would never know.
Doris had been a stay-at-home mom who nurtured and protected her son. How could this have happened? She had done all the right things yet she received all the wrong answers. They had waited so long for him… 5 years of praying, crying and great expense. When he finally came they saw him as such a gift from God. She never expected to have to release this precious gift.
Friends made her angry with their short-lived sympathy. When it took her a year to overcome the initial shock and another to internalize the reality that her son was gone, their selfish time-tables and expectations for her to be “over it” and move on with her life left her isolated and lonely.
Doris eventually found another grieving mom with whom she could relate and, over time, accepted her invitation to attend a Compassionate Friends gathering. Through her connection with Compassionate Friends, Doris has found comfort, understanding, hope and healing. By aligning herself with people sharing similar, yet uniquely different experiences, she fostered new friendships and gained the support and understanding she longed for.
Doris shared with me how important it was for her to have a place where she could speak freely her son’s name, share her memories of him and be surrounded by others who understood how hard it was for her to let go the many dreams she had for the future of her family that included Patrick.
Today Doris is a Compassionate Friends facilitator and has given me permission to share her story with the hope that it will, in some way, impart to others the value and importance of being connected with like-experienced people. She has also asked me to share something she has learned through her journey to a new normal. “When you’re going through something unimaginably devastating, it takes 3-T’s: Tears, Time and Talking.”
Don’t miss the power of connecting with others! Reach out to give and receive love today.