The other day I had a friend tell me that the problem I was having is that I have not accepted Kaitlyn’s death. I have my other child, my husband, my home and all that love me and I simply must accept what happened to Kaitlyn in order be there for them, live for them, and simply just to carry on, or something to that effect.
This comment to me was a comment of one of the many responses to something I wrote on my Facebook. I was desperate that night, I needed someone to tell me anything to make me feel better. I got many responses that made me feel better, but his made me pause. I know with all my heart that what he said was meant to help me. He’s a friend of mine. I realize what it was he was trying to tell me, but I could not get that word “acceptance” out of my mind and I have thought about it ever since.
So I looked up the word “acceptance” on an online dictionary. But I can’t find any of the definitions that look like there’s anything that has to do with what has happened and how I feel or where it is I should be in my life and Kaitlyn’s death. Here they are….well I will go with the word “accept.” In parenthesis after the definition I will give my thoughts.
Here’s the World Dictionary definition:
World English Dictionary
— vb (sometimes foll by of)
1. To take or receive something offered (my daughters suicide was not offered to me or given to me beforehand for my approval, so this does not apply).
2. To give an affirmative reply to: to accept an invitation (I accepted no invitation).
3. To take on the responsibilities, duties, etc., of: he accepted office (that surely does not apply)
4. To tolerate or accommodate oneself to (this is perhaps what I should be trying to obtain).
5. To consider as true or believe in (a philosophy, theory, etc.): I cannot accept your argument (no, that’s not it either)
6. (may take a clause as object) to be willing to grant or believe: you must accept that he lied (to believe? Yes I definitely believe my daughter is dead).
7. To receive with approval or admit, as into a community, group, etc. (no, surely didn’t approve my daughter’s suicide)
8.commerce to agree to pay (a bill, draft, shipping document, etc.), esp. by signing (no, not it)
9. To receive as adequate, satisfactory, or valid (certainly not)
10. To receive, take, or hold (something applied, inserted, etc.) (I’ve already had to receive and take hold of what happened)
11. archaic to take or receive an offer, invitation, etc. (no)
[C14: from Latin acceptāre, from ad- to + capere to take]
To me, I don’t think the word acceptance is quite the word for what it is I need to attain. I accepted Kaitlyn’s death as true the moment that the police officer said “Your daughter is deceased.” Though it was horrible, the most unfathomable thing possible, and my heart and mind railed against it being true, I accepted what he said as truth though I did not want to. I was never in denial. I had a problem with how she could have possibly done such a thing, but I knew it when he told me.
I’ve accepted her suicide with everything I’ve had to do since she left this earth; by selecting a casket for her burial, the clothes she was to be buried in, by cleaning out her apartment, going through her things, keeping or giving away her things, by painstakingly picking out a head stone for her grave that would do her justice, by every excruciating moment that I have somehow managed to live through since she has been gone (though I really didn’t think I would live long after it because surely I would die of heartache or some horrible event to by body because my mind could not tolerate it….but alas, here I still am).
I’ve accepted her death with every young woman I see, every baby, child, adolescent I see, by all the commercials by women MDs I see on TV, by every piece of art that she drew, to every piece of poetry and writing that has been left for my eyes to fall upon, I have accepted it. With every wedding I hear about knowing she will never be a bride, to every baby I see on TV or in person knowing she will never have her own, I accept it. I have accepted that when 2015 is here, it will have been the year she would have graduated medical school….but she won’t….they will walk without her.
I accept her death when I’m in the floor crying with her clothes wrapped in my arms pretending it is her even though I know she is dead. I have no illusions of that fact.
I’ve accepted her death in these ways and countless others too many to mention ever since the moment the words came out of that police officer’s mouth. So it’s not acceptance that I need to find.
I am sometimes reminded of people that have lost children but by gosh they had to grab themselves by the bootstraps and carry on for their family members. This implies that I need to get on with business and live for them. I love them. I love them as much as I do Kaitlyn and I want to live for them but when your heart is broken and your life is not life without that person (which it would not be without any of my family) it’s hard to make the fact that you need to do it, make your mind and body actually do it.
It’s been almost 16 months. With each passing day she moves farther and farther away from me and it hurts. And with time, I feel the push of some people that enough is enough of this, you need to act like you love your family and get on with it. I am now trying to be proactive. I’ve started walking every other day and being careful what I eat so I can lose the ton I’ve gained since Kaitlyn’s death. I have applied for numerous jobs and have failed to get them. Funny, when I applied for nursing jobs in years past I got them 99 percent of the time. Now I can find nothing. Seeing that I am struggling with complicated grief and the reel of Kaitlyn’s life and her good memories that are attached to so much pain playing continuously in my mind is driving me insane, I decided to seek another psychologist (the two I tried after Kaitlyn’s death did nothing to help me) to work with my brain to get those horrible painful things disassociated with Kaitlyn’s wonderful memory. Since I can’t find a job, I’m thinking of volunteering for a worthy cause nearby. There is no way I can tell you how I’ve had to force myself to do these things. Not because I’m lazy but because my mind and heart just can’t bear having to live without Kaitlyn. But I do it and hope that some day my heart will be in agreement to what I’m trying to force myself to do now.
So by gosh I’m trying. But still I have so many moments (well actually it’s continuously) of being in the sheer depths of this living hell that I hate. And I feel so horrible that my child had to suffer in silence for so many years from the deep depression she was in because she did not deserve it. These thoughts overwhelm me and bring me to my knees.
So I don’t really like being told that what my problem is, is that I’ve not learned to accept her death. I have no choice but to accept it. It’s real, so real. So real in fact that sometimes I wish I could live in a fantasy world where I don’t have to know my daughter is dead. But then I would not remember her either and I’d rather suffer than not have her memory at all.
But the thing it is, what I DO need to attain is a way to COPE. Yes, cope would be the proper word. So maybe someone can tell me “your problem is you have not learned to cope.” That would be more accurate and it would not even give me pause to think because I know it is true. I have not learned to cope with my daughter’s death….at all.
Here’s the definition of coping. I won’t even comment in parenthesis because I know it’s what I’m unable to do yet.
verb (used without object), coped, cop•ing.
1. to struggle or deal, especially on fairly even terms or with some degree of success (usually followed by with): I will try to cope with his rudeness.
2. To face and deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties, especially successfully or in a calm or adequate manner: After his breakdown he couldn’t cope any longer.