Beyond Tears by Ellen Mitchell

Post image for Beyond Tears by Ellen Mitchell

by Joe Mudd on August 5, 2011

There are certain truisms in life. One of them is that it goes against the natural order of things to bury one’s child. However, as bereaved mothers we can no longer believe in natural order. Our comfortable, secure lives, our innocence, all were shattered with the deaths of our children. Now our reality is upside down, inside out and far removed from what we thought it would be.
Beyond TearsĀ 

Nine Bereaved Moms Share Their Stories

Beyond Tears contains the stories of nine bereaved mothers. They have similar backgrounds, each losing a child that was a teen or young adult. They met at Compassionate Friends and became close. They have moved along their grief journey to a point of healing they share in this book.

They call people that have never experienced the loss of a child “civilians.” I thought that was sort of funny.

Like probably all of us that have found new friends because we’ve joined the Grieving Parents Club, they express this sentiment:

We are the closest of fiends. We share the deepest intimacies of our lives. We wish we had never met.

At the very least we wish we had met under different circumstances.

The ladies share their thoughts and experiences of losing their children. Chapters deal with the first year, finding help, redefining our existence, coping and dealing with all those special days – birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.

They also touch on a subject you don’t see much about in a chapter titled, “Intimacy.”

The anquish of losing a child pollutes every close relationship. It seeks to destroy our ties to our spouses, to our remaining children, to our parents, to cherished friends, to everyone close to us. Each tie is torn to shreds and brutally examined under a high-powered microscope before it can be pieced back together.

In some cases the pieces will never again mesh and the bond will break. Those relationships that survive will be forever changed because we are changed. We are never the same people we were before the death. The person we become has to learn anew to love and live with those we loved and lived with before, or perhaps to go a seperate way.

The death becomes a giant black hole in our midst.

The death of our children is so totally all consuming. “Civilians” as the ladies call them, don’t understand this, even though they try. They become impatient with us and we with them.

This book, like all the others on grieving I’ve read, illustrate how different we all are. What works for one grieving parent doesn’t for another. What happens quickly for one may take years for someone else.

This difference in grieving styles is a major stress factor between husband and wife.

The Ladies Share the Podium

This book is about the experiences of nine moms, and eight of the ten chapters are about their experiences.

But they let the dads have one chapter.

And yes, men are different than women. We’re not as public with feelings. But we have them. We can share them, but I know for me, it doesn’t come naturally.

I found a blog post by a fellow grieving dad once, where I and several other dads shared our thoughts with one another. We supported each other. But that only lasted for a short time, then we all just sort of faded away.

All that sharing takes a lot out of you. It requires energy. It’s also a constant reminder of the deep down sadness we feel. There are enough reminders of that.

Anyway, in chapter nine the dad’s get their say.

The last chapter is one I’m really glad to see. In chapter ten the “Siblings Speak.” The adult children left behind share their experience.

This is something I worry about. Our daughter Sarah lost her baby brother when we lost our son. In a way she also lost her parents, because our grief was so consuming.

She’s an amazing young woman and very detail oriented. We leaned on her a lot to get Richard’s funeral planned. I’m sure that wasn’t fair to her, but she didn’t complain.

I wonder how this has all been for her. We don’t talk about it. I’m not sure how to even bring it up, and I don’t think she would be real comfortable talking to me about it. But I worry about her.

I think Beyond Tears is worth reading. I found a lot of stories I can relate to. Through these stories I also learned there is hope. It will always be a struggle, but if we keep moving forward, just one step at a time, we will eventually find a life worth living – different yes, but a life still.

Beyond Tears: Living After Losing a Child, Revised Edition


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Roberta Korntved February 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Thank you for this post. I was looking at books on grieving and had not seen this one. I will search it out. I’m particularly interested in the chapter from the sibling as well. My daughter, Emily, who is 18, went away for her first year of college just one month after Austin, her 15 year old brother, died of a brain aneurysm. Like Sarah, she lost her baby brother. I didn’t lean on Emily for funeral planning, I’m sure as I grieve for Austin, it pulls me away from her a little bit. One person asked me if it was hard to leave Emily at college that first week. My response was, “Not really. After going through Austin’s ordeal, at least I KNOW I’ll see Emily in a few weeks.” I guess, I should know better than anyone that is really not up to me – – but I’m not even going to think about that. I’ll continue to live in the bubble, for right now, that Emily is OK at college and I’ll see her nearly every weekend. But that last chapter in this book will give me a glimpse into what is going on in Emily’s head.
Thank you again!


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