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Living With Hope and Grief

After my son died, I

simply did not know what to do, what to say, where to go, or how to do it. We often say, “It left me speechless, I just don’t know what to say,” yet we then go on and on describing the sensation. In this case, I truly did not have the words, I didn’t know what to do, I was absolutely lost. Gone was my voice, my inner voice, in a swirl of panic that swept me up in the eye of its turbulence.

The world as I knew it, stopped. Of course, I knew people died, even children, and bad things happen to good people. When it happened to me, I found out about my unconscious belief the world makes sense. Death doesn’t touch my family, that is, not until I say so, not until I’m lying in hospice at an old age and it just makes sense. Now my world no longer made sense.

There was only one thing I knew—I needed to be with my son. So, friends put us on a plane and we flew to Denver to be with our son. He wasn’t there. His body was there, completely intact after dying in a motorcycle accident. But his smile, his manner, his personality, his…his, he wasn’t there. His hesitancy to hug, his smell, and his eyes, the one’s filled with life, were not there. My world, the world didn’t make sense.

So often our world doesn’t make sense but we keep on talking, explaining, rationalizing, and confirming what we do know despite what we don’t know looms large over our heads. Way over our heads. Arm chair theologians think they know the mind of God and arm chair psychologists think they know the mind of man. They fill the gaps with made up words. Our words fill the gaps, we make up our own sense.

We muddle on in our desperate grasp on a self-made reality show.

I was no longer the star in my reality show. It was cancelled the day he died. Oh, I still play the reruns, yea, it’s doing well in syndication, but it’s just not the same. The myths, thank God, are gone. Left is a memory of “remember when…the world revolved around me…remember when my life escaped tragedy because of me…remember when I was rewarded for all my goodness…remember when I lied to myself.”

Still like a recovering alcoholic I sheepishly admit the lie helped and reality sucks. I’m oft petty and judgmental. But when I am truly sober, not just a “dry drunk,” I know I am seeing the world more clearly. I live more authentically, and I see people more mercifully. I know the difference.

And while I’d trade a return to my own selfishness for my son to be alive… Wait a second, think about that. I’d trade a return to a deeper sin filled life so that my son could return to a sin-filled world? Does that make sense in anyone’s world? Sometimes those parental instincts are so deep, they defy logic.

I want to be around all of my children so much at times it hurts. It hurts me even more when being around my children hurts them. My advice goes unheeded, my sage wisdom is scoffed, and my deeds destroy. It can happen at any age but I really see it in adult children. At an early age we call it, “helicopter parent syndrome.” Later it’s known as “empty nest syndrome.”

When they die, we call it grief.

Grief is looking for someone in all the wrong places. It’s looking for them in their room where they used to sleep. Or holding their baseball glove and looking for them at the park. Grief is hearing their voice call, “Hey Dad, Dad,” when we are at the store. Grief is everywhere, neither good nor bad, grief just is.

But hope takes work. Hope is seeing a yellow Monarch, or a turtle return after winter. Hope is finding a dime. Hope is hugging your grandson or holding a baby. Hope is planting a flower knowing that in the fall it will die but it doesn’t matter. Hope is knowing your son, your daughter, your husband, wife, father, or mother are alive. Hope is what I lost when Aaron was swept from me. Now hope is what keeps me alive.

I live with both—grief and hope.

Please read more about how my hope was restored in When Sunday Smiled at:

Living With Hope and Grief

Andy Davidson

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APA Reference
Davidson, A. (2019). Living With Hope and Grief. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Jun 2019
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