A friend once told me about a bereaved mother who was so distraught, she jumped, wailing with sorrow, into an open grave onto the coffin of her child. The friend’s eyes opened wide as if she couldn’t quite believe someone could do such a thing. Perhaps she was glad I hadn’t done the same thing myself.
When we buried our son Thomas, I didn’t wail or do anything out of the ordinary. I just stood quietly crying, keeping my thoughts and my feelings to myself.
I felt I was on display at Thomas’ funeral. I wondered if all our friends and family were watching me, wondering how I was coping. What were they thinking? Did I act like a normal bereaved mother? Or should I have shown more emotion… like the mother who jumped into the grave…?
I have already written about Thomas’ funeral a number of times. But I have never told anyone what I was thinking on that sorrowful day. And I have never spoken about the next day, the day after the funeral, when I returned alone to visit my son. I hesitated to share because I thought people might be shocked by the crazy thoughts I once had, when I was deep in grief for my son. Would people start to talk about me? Would they pass around the story: “I know a strange bereaved mother. You should hear what she was thinking of doing…” Everyone might have labelled me crazy, like the mother who jumped onto the coffin.
But now I have written my story. It is about a grief crazy mother, a mother who can look normal, even smile, when people are around, but later when all alone… the grief pours out unrestrained and strange thoughts come and go, thoughts that others might consider mad.
Do all bereaved parents have such moments and such thoughts? I don’t know. Maybe we all hide such things inside of us, not wanting to admit we feel we are going out of control.