Ask Abbie: Father unable to get over son’s tragic death

Published 10:36 am Saturday, December 1, 2012

Question: I lost my son two years ago in a very bad accident.

He was 34 and left behind a wife and child. The rest of the year is hard enough because I miss him so badly, but during the holidays everything is harder.

There are so many things I want to tell him.

A 56-year-old dad never expects to outlive his child. I’ve tried many attempts to lift my depression including the ways everyone suggests. Nothing’s helping.

What would you suggest?

Answer: I am so very sorry for your loss. There will never be enough words or expressions of sorrow to adequately address the hurt you must feel.

Congratulations, however, on accepting the job to rebuild your spirit in the face of aftermath. Stay strong and realize your progress has slowed only because you lack the correct tools for the job, not because the task is insurmountable.

Once complete, your final project will read “I’m proud of you dad. I love you.”

Have you ever needed to remove a Phillips head screw, but can only find your flathead screwdriver because somebody borrowed your Phillips head and didn’t return it?

Your frustrations mount, you even try a pocketknife. You start to strip the head of the screw, making a much bigger job for yourself than if you took the time to find the right tool.

It is time to put down your less than optimal depression-fighting tools before you get too frustrated and your job becomes too difficult.

Step back and take a deep breath. The correct tools you need to begin rebuilding have arrived.

Open your new toolbox and find the balancing scale. One side weighs depression and the other side healing. The day your son passed, the scale leaned 100 percent toward depression. As you begin anew and add healing to your deepest emotional wounds, the weight of depression begins to lift.

With consistent recovery efforts as well as steadfast faith, one day the scale will tip 100 percent in favor of healing. Weigh often to monitor progress.

Next, use your new eraser to eradicate the word “depression” from your vocabulary. Words have self-fulfilling prophetic ability. Speak not of where you are, “I am depressed,” but rather of where you want to be, “I am on my way to complete and total healing.”

Stating your struggles in a light of hope and with a conquering mentality forces them into a weakened position.

Your toolbox also contains a can of WD-40. Should any annoying squeak of guilt surface within the gears of your head, apply it quickly and liberally for there is no shortage of the lubricant.

You did the best you could for your son and he knows that. Guilt comes to keep us from experiencing victory. Don’t fall prey to its destructive tactics.

Let the set of blueprints in your box serve as your plan for a family get-together to honor your son. Set out his picture, serve some of his favorite foods and display his most cherished items.

This is a time for crying, laughing and for no longer holding anything inside. The more you can talk about your son and your own feelings, the more others will feel able to share.

To share is to heal. This is not a time or place for children. They will likely misunderstand and or misinterpret the array of emotions.

This is a time for the adults to heal so they can become the pillars of strength the children need. Your son will be smiling down upon you as he sees the family growing closer as they heal as a unit.

Don’t forget to use your safety gear. You must take care of yourself. Should you incur injury, or become sick, you will be unable to take care of your family. Your family needs you strong enough to stand in the gap left by your son to keep the family’s wall from crumbling.

Those events in our life beyond our control happen for a reason. We can believe the source of control is out to get us, or has a much larger than humanly discernible plan in the best interest for all mankind.

I choose to believe all things happen for the greater good. We can’t control storms that come to rob, steal and destroy, but we can control reaction to the storms.

With the well-suited tools of strength, hope and victory, let us commit this holiday season to building the kind of warm and protective shelters that will be left standing after any future storm and where all left stranded desire to find refuge.