When our first child is born, a loud voice says,"Runners, take your marks!" We hear the starting gun and the race begins. It's a race we must win at all cost. We have to win. The competitionis called "I'll race you to the grave." I'm currently racing three sons. I really want to win. Not everyone wins. I'm soon going on stage to speak before acrowd of parents and loved ones impacted by the death of a child. My address is titled, "The Myth of Getting Over it." It's my attempt to answer the driving questions of grieving parents:When will I get over this? How do I get over this?You don't get over it. Getting over it is an inappropriate goal. An unreasonable hope.The loss of a child changes you. It changes your marriage. It changes the way birds sing. It changes the way the sun rises and sets. You are forever different.You don't want to get over it. Don't act surprised. As awful a burden as grief is,you know intuitively that it matters, that it is profoundly important to be grieving.Your grief plays a crucial part in staying connected to your child's life. To give up your grief would mean losing your child yet again. If I had the power to take your grief away, you'd fight me to keep it. Your grief is awful, but it is also holy. And somewhere inside you, you know that.The goal is not to get over it. The goal is to get on with it.Profound grief is like being in a stage play where in suddenly the stagehands push a huge grand piano into the middle of the set. The piano paralyzes the play. It dominates the stage. No matter where you move, it impedes your sight lines, yourblocking, your ability to interact with the other players. You keep banging into it,surprised each time that it's still there. It takes all your concentration to work around it, this at a time when you have little ability or desire to concentrate on anything.The piano changes everything. The entireplay must be rewritten around it. But over time the piano is pushed to stage left.Then to upper stage left. You are the playwright, And slowly, surely, you begin to find the impetus and wherewithal to stop reacting to the intrusive piano. Instead, you engage it. Instead of writing every scene around the piano, you begin to write the piano into each scene, into the story.You learn to play that piano. You're surprised to find that you want to play, that it's meaningful,even peaceful to play it.
By Steven Kalas