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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Mourning the Living

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Lisa Zarcone
Lisa Zarconehttps://www.lisazarcone.net
Regional Director for New England AREA/ NAASCA Ambassador (MA) - 2021 Heroine Award Recipient (MA)-Child & Mental Health Advocate -Public Speaker-Author-Blogger-Podcast Enthusiast- Radio Personality

This Subject is not Talked About Enough

Mourning—When we hear that word we think of the passing of a soul.

Did you ever think about mourning the living? What does that feel like?

MOURNING Definition: In the simplest sense, grief over someone’s death. The word is also used to describe a cultural complex of behaviors in which the bereaved participates are expected to participate.

This process of mourning is universal all over the world. Each culture grieves the same but different. We all have our own way of handling death, personally and as a community. When someone passes away, as difficult as it is to lose them, we know it is final in the sense that person has physically left this earth.

We know that we can never have another face-to-face conversation or receive that long-awaited hug. Our minds process the physicality of someone passing away. Of course, that doesn’t take away the emotional anguish, but in some sense, we can rationalize it.

WHAT ABOUT MOURNING THE LIVING?

Have you ever thought about that?

As we make our way through life, people do come and go. Friends, work associates, neighbors, and family. How do we handle it when someone is gone from our sight but is still physically roaming the earth? 

Our brain is wired in such a way that when someone has affected our lives, we cannot just turn it off. Those images stay present long after the person has moved on. There will be a certain moment when you are triggered by a memory, and instantly you are transported back to a time of the past. 

What do you do with all of those left-over feelings and connections?

You must process them the same way that you would the death of a beloved person in your life. As you move forward, take the time to revisit the good, the bad, and possibly the ugly. You must learn how to make peace with the fact that you will not see that person anymore and why.

These feelings and emotions may be difficult to face but are necessary to be able to release all the baggage that have been left behind. The reality is that people do come and go in our lives for various reasons. Sometimes it is for a lesson, or other times it is better that they moved on, but the hardest part is when someone close to you leaves and brands your heart with a hole that is quite painful. 

How do you fix it?

It may not always be fully fixable, but again putting understanding and meaning to the reasons why will help you move forward.

I always like to share my life experiences, because I want people to feel connected to what I am writing about. The life lessons along the way are the most important ones we will ever learn. I feel very strongly about sharing for purpose. 

Here is a true example of how I have personally “mourned the living.”

As a mother, I take great pride in all of my children. I have raised three of them, two boys and a girl, and I lost one due to an unhealthy embryo. I am now a grandmother of three. My husband and I are also raising two of them. I have learned so much along the way as a parent/grandparent.

The Good – The Bad – The Ugly.

My oldest child (my son) was born premature, and we almost lost him. Through endless love and support, my husband and I willed him to live and survive. With an incredible team of doctors and our unconditional love, he did survive. The doctors told us because we spent so much time with him in the hospital, and gave him so much physical touch, that actually stimulated his will to live.

His life growing up was difficult, with many ups and downs as he struggled with ADHD/ODD/Anxiety/Depression. As a family we all supported him through his trials and troubles, which included being bullied profusely, beaten up, isolation, depression, and risky behaviors. It was a very dark time in his life, and ours as well. As a teenager growing up into a young man, he made many, many poor choices. One could say he would choose every wrong choice first! He got himself into quite a bit of trouble, and he had a few run ins with the law. 

As his dutiful family, we stood by his side every painstaking step of the way, continually reaching out to him every single day. We did everything humanly possible to try to connect with him and keep him close to us. His response was always to ignore our pleas to let us help him. Instead, he always pushed us away, leaving us feeling defeated every single time, but we never gave up on him, ever! His years of poor choices and awful behaviors affected our family as a whole. It broke us!

It was me, my husband, and the two kids. Then there was our other son, lost refusing our support, guidance, and love. There was a great divide completely created by him. We never understood why!

It was a constant battle of the wills with a mother’s undying love for her son holding onto those heart strings for dear life. That statement “A mother’s love is like no other” is one of the truest statements I know, because I live it every day.

Fast forward to the present time, my baby boy is now a thirty-five-year-old man, that I mourn every single day. He continues to shun us every step of the way, not allowing us ever to be close to him. This hurts my heart more than any other pain I have felt throughout my life; and my life has been quite a difficult journey. I grew up in a dysfunctional household with a severely mentally ill mother. I went through horrendous abuse of all types (mental, physical, emotional, sexual) by more than one abuser. I also lost my brother to Leukemia at the age of nine (I was six), and by the grace of God and a strong will, I survived. 

I always knew when I had my own family one day, it would be very different from the household I grew up in. I put my heart and soul into my husband and children. We built a home together, giving our kids an environment that they could grow up freely with safety, security, happiness, lots of laughter, and unconditional love. 

Who would have ever thought this is how our story would play out? My son and I have a “texting” relationship. I do not see him very often, maybe once or twice a year for a few moments! We are raising two of his children (that he has zero contact with), and he has a daughter (our other grandchild) that we have not seen, but only a handful of times. To use the word “heartbreaking” is an understatement.

Without going into further details of our complex story, there have been a lot of events that brought us here. As parents we did absolutely everything we could to help him, and we fought with every ounce of our being. We jumped through hoops and climbed mountains. Our love for him was so immensely strong, and we did not ever want to give up on him.

I always said, “We were trying to save him from himself.”

I know firsthand what “mourning the living” feels like, and it is far worse than mourning the dead, in my opinion. This is because that person is still physically here on this earth. WE can connect with them if it is actually meant to be. Knowing my son is only fifteen minutes away from me, hurts so much because we are still a world apart. It is truly a devastating feeling.

So, what do we do with all of that?

We continue to live. We process what has happened and put it into its proper place. It is hard, very hard. YES, IT IS PAINSTAKING, but it is a necessary task, because if we do not face it, then we are not truly living.

As I move forward with my life, I pray for him every day. I pray for his safety and good health. I pray one day for answers that may never come. I also remain hopeful that he will return to us wanting to engage beyond the world of texting.

My husband and I will always keep that door open for him, if he chooses to step back in.

I am reminded of him through his two children and our countless family stories of the past. 

Mourning the living is beyond all of us and something I do not believe many people talk about or share. This is another silent topic that need to come to the for front. For many people, they travel this earth with that pain buried deep inside their hearts holding it privately, not allowing anyone to see the “unspoken truth.”

I chose to share my story here, because I always hope that my experience will help someone else in mourning find a way to cope with the loss.

We must face what hurts us the most in order to learn, overcome, and hopefully heal.

Time . . . Is it on our side?

Embrace the Journey.

#MENTALHEALTHMATTERS

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