The Sisterhood

April 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm 13 comments


Photo appears with permission of Virginia Mak

We may not even recognize each other if we were to pass on a street but we know each other so well. Our outsides are unique to us, we come in all ages, sizes, colours and creeds but our innerselves are carbon copies of each other.

We walk the same path no matter where in the world we are. We have become secretive, good at hiding our true selves from others, even those that love us the most.

We “deal” differently, some use their faith, some their talents, some throw themselves into good works, others just throw themselves into work, some get counselling, others counsel, some have other family members who need their nurture, some eat – others don’t, some drink to fill the void that each of the Sisterhood of Sorrow feel deep within us.

We are met with well-intentioned formulae for “dealing”

“Time to move on” .. It is early days but you will feel better “…. “Time heals”….
“You had the best years of him/her”…. or “it isn’t like you had him/her for any length of time so it must be easier”….. “At least you understand why (because of the illness), there was a reason” ….or ” well at least the accident was quick it wasn’t like you had to watch him/her suffer”

and so it goes on…

Well meaning advice and observations from , the non members of the Sisterhood of Sorrow but only those that have gone through the terrible initiation of membership truly understand that you become a mother the first time your body tells you -YOU are.

And even though your child’s heart stops sometimes before they see the light of day , or days, or weeks or months or years after they come into the world of “others” YOU are changed. YOU the vessel of life has experienced something unique to mothers. As your being filled with life it set in motion a trigger – a fierce , unselfish need to protect and cherish. “Self “ is no longer part of you.

The Sisterhood knows only too well the child you carried and nurtured inside your own body left an imprint on your heart and very being that becomes another facet that is you . It doesn’t matter that you have given birth , the little being expelled from your body in pain and joy, there is an intangible something that remains, imprinted forever on your essence. Maybe one day they will discover a medical term for it but any mother knows it is there and it never goes away .

So The Sisterhood, who have bonded through the loss of their child try to move on. Our constant grief starts to embarrass some, make others uncomfortable, makes others sigh, others ignore, we make others reach for ways to help, some are scared for us and others worry . We are an emotional enigma.

Only the “sister in sorrow” knows the reality of the agony her fellow traveler feels. I am told by another sister who walked my road before me and continues her weary journey :

The pain doesn’t go away or lessen , you just get better at hiding it from the outside world – you are expected to carry on as normal eventually by those that care about you “.

We grieve, each in our different ways, we who have outlived our child, not understanding why , looking for answers that are more than platitudes of

“A greater plan” “Better place” “you are only given what you can bear”

We absorb the emotional pummeling those words bring not wanting to show the pain they cause to those who are trying to help. We know they are trying to deal with us to bring us back to being US again.

Just as becoming a mother changed us so losing a child changes us , we will never be the person you knew before our loss just as we will never be the person we were before becoming a mother.

We do not walk our path by choice the journey has been cruelly thrust upon us. We do not ever want to have fellow travelers join us the way is too long and painful and the journey never-ending.

Entry filed under: Chris Ritchey, death, journey, Love. Tags: , .

LPA- School for Thought or Container Port that is the Question! Thinking Upside Down and Backwards a“Pissenlit” Supporter!!

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dave cotton  |  April 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Beautifully said.
    I will do my best to let you grieve in your own way and in your own time.
    If I happen to offend, please know that it was not intentional.
    I do care about you and your family!
    D

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  April 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I know that Dave and I have said things myself all through my life I thought were rational and thoughtful and helpful or even funny that NOW I wish I hadn’t but WE can’t know until we have walked in a person shoes……. and that doesn’t just go for grief or losing a child…….. there are so many things that effect us .but I remember that 98 percent of the people are really trying to help …….

  • 3. Jane Owen  |  April 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Loraine,

    I totally get ya ,sister.

  • 4. jen  |  April 8, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    very beautiful – thank you.

  • 5. Marilyn  |  April 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I found your site by accident, but I can so relate. In 2005 my daughter Rachel died from the “good”cancer. “Sisterhood of Sorrow” is a perfect name for the the group of mothers whose lives are forever changed by the loss of their children. The bond between us is different from any other. We meet another mother who has lost a child and we instantly know her- her unfathomable pain, the roller coaster of emotions she rides, the questions that haunt her. Thank you for allowing others to look into the heart of mother who has faced the greatest loss there can ever be.

  • 6. aylin  |  April 13, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Powerful is an understatement. I dont know you, but have been reading your blog for a few months. I have two very young boys of my own (3 and 1) and have already started praying for “good wives” for them. I am so sorry that you lost your dear Chris. I am so sorry for the way your daughter in law isolated you. Cruel. I am a mother and can not imagine your pain. I will keep you in my prayers and (almost) daily rosaries. Please know there is merit in suffering although (they say) we can not understand it. Loss is the great leveler of all – loss of a child, they say, is a wound that never completely heals. For a mother, as you so eloquently stated above, it begins that second that you realize you are pregnant. In the same way, the Blessed Mother is the mother of all children and I will ask her to wrap her mantle around you for healing. May God bless you today and always.

  • 7. thatwoman  |  April 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Thank you , it is true, I have lived a few years now and experienced a great deal of life but never anythig that has caused so much pain and anguish, my eyes are never dry and when I gear myself to go out as I did yesterday and you hold back ( or try to ) the tears etc there is literally a gutteral scream at the back of your throat fighting to be released…. it is very very very hard to keep from drowning….Loraine

  • 8. Kathy  |  April 14, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Loraine, this is such a powerful post – you have said everything that we all feel / experience.

    “Just as becoming a mother changed us so losing a child changes us , we will never be the person you knew before our loss just as we will never be the person we were before becoming a mother.”

    Just too true –

    Kathy
    Eric’s Mom

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    […] that this work that he dismissed so lightly was speaking volumes. I had two prints made up for two very special people who have spoken and felt the language of the hands as I had and had known their language of delight […]

  • 11. Gorillas in the Midst- « That Woman’s Weblog  |  September 8, 2010 at 10:35 am

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