There will never come a day, hour, minute or second I stop loving or thinking about my son. My son’s life was cut irreversibly short. It was a tragedy that should never have happened.
The agony of enduring the death of my child is a pain that I will suffer for a lifetime. I will grieve for a lifetime. Period. The end. There is no “moving on”, or “getting over it”. There is no bow, no fix, and no solution to my heartache. There is no end to the ways I will grieve and for how long I will grieve. There is no glue for my broken heart, no elixir for my pain, no going back in time. For as long as I breathe, I will grieve and ache and love my son with all my heart and soul. There will never come a time where I won’t think about who my son would be, what he would look like, where he would be in life, who he would marry, and how would his children look. It is a continuous loss that unfolds minute by minute over the course of a lifetime. Every missed birthday, holiday, milestone - weddings that will never be; grandchildren that should have been but will never be born– an entire generation of people are irrevocably altered forever.
My grief will last forever. The ripple effect lasts forever. The bleeding never stops.
The empty chair, empty room, empty space in every family picture, every family holiday, his empty car that sits in my garage. Empty, vacant, forever gone for this lifetime. Empty spaces that should be full, everywhere I go are empty of him. There is and will always be a missing space in my life, my family’s lives, and a forever-hole-in-our-hearts. Time does not make the space less empty. Neither do platitudes, clichés or well-wishes for us to “move on,” or “stop dwelling,” from well-intentioned friends or family. Nothing does. No matter how you look at it, empty is still empty. Missing is still missing. Gone is still gone. The problem is nothing can fill it. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after heartbreaking year the empty space remains.
No matter how long it’s been, holidays never become easier without my son every holiday season is like torture. It would be easier to lose an arm, a leg or two– anything— than to live without my flesh and blood, without the beat of my heart, the love of my life. Almost anything would be easier than living without my son. The rest of my life my holidays are now torture and will be forever hard.
Because I’ve clawed my way from the depth of unimaginable pain, suffering and sorrow, again and again– I know this has affected my health. What stress does to a body we all know is awful. I have Chronic Lyme Disease, which is an autoimmune disease. The triggers of relapse are caused by stress. The emotional onsets that come and bring me to tears causes not only emotional pain, but physical pain. When the crying stops the headaches begin. It is debilitating at times and all I can do is lay down and rest. It brings on such tension and anxiety that I get migraines and muscle aches. I have been diagnosed by my Grief Therapist as having PTSD. I have developed depression and on some days I have truly lost my desire to live. I feel that nothing would be better than dying so that I can be reunited with my son. In January of this year it was discovered that I had a tumor in my breast. I can honestly say that I was not upset with this news, with the possibility of having cancer. My enjoyment of living has been taken away from me, if I happened to be terminally ill at least it would take away my heartache and reunite me with my son. I have continued anxiety and have to take a medication some days so that I can just breathe, I have been told that these are panic attacks. I have little to no appetite and have lost over 60lbs. I have a hard time falling asleep at night and wake up feeling tired.
I have lost my desire to fully continue, yes I am here, but only on the surface. A part of my soul is gone forever.
The loss of my son has greatly affected my work and income. I had no desire to even leave my house/couch/bed for the first 6 months after he passed away. I did not care about anything but watching videos of him, looking at his pictures and reminiscing his memory. I did not return to work until 15 months after my son’s passing. My son worked in the same field as I do and even that in itself is hard on me now. I was supposed to start a big project in April of 2016 that would take 9-12 months to complete but there was no way that I could mentally or emotionally take on that kind of project at that time and my knew that. He told me to take off as much time as I needed and hired another project manager for the job. The other day my boss asked me to share on my Facebook page that Lifetime Fitness, my employer, was hiring project managers, superintendents and field engineers. He said with my history in construction that maybe I would know someone that we could hire. When he left my desk, I sat in reflection of who I could think of that would be perfect for one of those positions. The first person that came to my mind was Matthew, my boy. He had worked on the same projects as I had in the past. He was an employee of one of my friends who owned R&S Heating and Air. We worked together for many months in North Dakota. Matthew worked 12-16 hour days for weeks with no days off. I knew of nobody that had such a strong work ethic as my son. He was a “get it done” kind of guy. Of course my mind then reminded me that I can’t call Matthew, because he is no longer here! I then broke down and cried at work. My boss came back to find me sobbing at my desk. I explained to him my thought process and who had come to my mind. He also knew Matthew, as I have worked for this same man for over 20 years. He had hired Matthew over the years to do demolition jobs, small construction projects at his home, move office furniture, etc. Whatever was needed, because that is just the kind of guy that Matthew was.
The loss of my son has affected my friendships/relationships. I feel like nobody can relate to me or understand what pain I have gone through, I have little desire to go out with friends, nor do I trust people the way that I did before. The people who told me when Matthew passed, “Don’t worry Momma, we got you, we will step up for you and be there for you just like Matt did, we are your sons now” These people no longer even call to check on me, nor have they ever even tried to step in his shoes like they said they would, not for me or my daughters. I feel detached from others and feel like I really have only one friend now, where in my past I had many. It is hard for me to be amongst people who are celebrating their children’s lives, graduations, promotions, weddings, babies, things that will never happen with mine. I want to be happy for them and I am, but a part of me then asks “why”, Why Me, why did I lose my son. I feel like friends have distanced themselves from me because they don’t know what to say to me or cannot relate to the extent of my grief. I have no one in my circle of life that has ever lost a child, so there is truly nobody who understands.
The loss of my son has affected my family relationships and relationships with my daughters and grandchildren. I find myself suddenly much more overprotective, every time my youngest daughter travels, I feel this horrible feeling that it is the last time that I will see her. I also feel guilty, like I am a bad parent because it’s so difficult to focus on their needs when I am hurting so bad myself. I feel like I make them feel less valued, because my mind and heart is consumed by the loss of my son. I know everyone grieves differently, and in their own way, but it has been so hard to express myself even with my own daughters because I feel like they are just done talking about him or hearing about him. I feel like they just want their “old” mom back, and that person is forever gone.
My faith has been forever altered. My whole belief system as I knew it is shaken. I used to go to church every Sunday, and only listen to Christian music. Now, I no longer go, in fact I have not been to church since October of 2016 and do not even feel that I am a member anymore. I have doubted my faith and everything that I have been taught my entire life. Why would God, who I loved so much since my childhood, punish me this way and take the one thing from me that I loved more than anything? I prayed for him, we had so many prayer chains going for him, the 700 club aired the prayer request for his healing, I laid hands on my son’s lifeless body and prayed over every inch of him for restoration to his body. I prayed out loud, in front of Doctors, Nurses, family and friends and was certain that God would perform a miracle and save my son. When that didn’t happen, I felt like my father God did not care for me, or maybe didn’t even exist. Maybe everything I have ever been taught is just a lie. So tell me… where do I go from here? Where now do I find comfort?
It seems that my life has now become two different time periods. Life before, while Matthew was alive and life after Matthew has died. In those two periods, I also feel like I have changed. I have not since my college days been much of a drinker. In fact in my life before I rarely drank, maybe twice a year that I even had a drink of alcohol. Now, I find myself numbing myself with a few drinks and the frequency is increasing. I have traded my Christian music for rap music and got tattoos where before I had none.
I feel like there’s a videotape that constantly plays in an endless loop in my mind, running through what happened. I have to relive the moments of that horrific phone call saying “Sandra, Matthew isn’t breathing” to the unimaginable trip to Miami, to the shock of seeing my son in the condition he was in, on life support barely hanging on. I have to relive the entire 36 hours that he remained on life support and I relive the tragic ending when he went into final cardiac arrest where there were 15+ hospital staff trying to revive him while my daughters, his girlfriend and friends were screaming and crying. It felt like I was in a real life horror movie. I have to relive these moments every time that someone asks me about my son. I have to relive these moments and be my son’s advocate and voice in times like now that I am preparing interrogatories.
Every day I yearn to have five minutes, an hour, a day back with my son so I can tell him how much I love and miss him. Every day I feel great sadness and depression as I wrestle with the idea that everything important to me has been taken from me. My future has been robbed, and nothing can make that right.
I lost my grocery carrier, my plumber, my electrician, my grass cutter, my snow shoveler, my movie buddy, my best friend, my rock, my unconditional love, my momma’s boy, my inspiration, my daily affirmation teller, my sentimental, soft hearted son, my car washer, my dog walker, my caretaker, my carpenter, my greatest fan, the absolute love of my life.
I do not ever see myself recovering from this. I continue to live but much of the color and light has faded from my life and there is no doubt it will have an impact on the span of my life.
Sandra Roman started Good Grief Relief after losing her son, Matthew Kyle in 2016. After enduring the worst imaginable pain ever, she turned to writing. Sandra’s writing has served as an effective method of self-expression and a powerful tool in her grief healing journey. She is currently in the process of writing a book, and she is a member of Cruise Victims International where she has decided to be a strong voice for awareness and change. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her family.