Three weeks ago, on the 22nd of November, 2010, my darling 24 year old son Ethan died. His death has left the whole family shocked and devastated at the news, and trying to make sense of life without his cheerful, funloving, noisy presence. We farewelled him with his many friends in Melbourne, and have now returned to New Zealand to start to make sense of his death and the fact that we only got to share 24 years with him.
We have been keeping in touch, talking, learning what it means to mourn, and coming to terms with his death. We have shared stories, laughed at his many antics, and become closer to family members as we have supported each other. We have certainly had dark moments when it hits us that he is gone from us, and will not come back.
Yesterday my thoughts turned to acceptance, or dealing with, or coming to terms with Ethan's death. I quickly decided that, for the present, acceptance is one million miles away, so I was left with dealing with or coming to terms with his death. I soon realized that I was not ready to do that, and maybe there was a step before that. I have named it “coming to terms with coming to terms with” his death. The moment you realise you have to deal with it. And it is not only with major events such as an unexpected death, where you are brutally confronted with the need to accept, adjust, change and make some very big decisions when the event is totally out of your control, but it is in your everyday lives where you have some control over the events.
It is that moment where you first truly see the writing on the wall, but before you have any idea how you are going to respond. Your marriage has been difficult, but you have not yet decided to acknowledge that something needs to be done. Your job has been stressing you out, but you have not thought about what that means as you know you might have to face something you don't want to face. It is at this moment that it starts to come into focus as something that you have to acknowledge and deal with.
And for me, it is coming to terms with the fact that I have to come to terms with Ethan's early death, and what that means for my life, and the lives of my family. It is maybe, just a little bit, the first tiny step toward acceptance.