Don't Make them a Saint
The emotional pain I experienced after Connor died was excruciating. Initially the pain was so severe that I felt like I was in a haze, in a fog that had no chance of lifting. I was in a place that I did not want to be nor was willing to accept. The ability to perform basic functions was challenged. The first hours, days and weeks that followed, I was in shock. As time went on, the shock lifted, and I was forced to face the reality that my son was gone.
I had to come to terms with the changes in my life, almost every aspect of my daily routine. I was sometimes confused and not sure what to do next. I did know that I wanted to remember my son. Nobody was going to get in the way of that!
I started thinking about the different ways I could remember him. I declared to the world that I was going to start some sort of foundation in his name. It was going to be called the Tie-Dyed Foundation in honor of Connor Bray Green. I had plans to have a sign made that said, “I love you to the stars and back”. It was something Connor always told me. I placed his picture on a table, which I had not done with any other family photos.
I spoke about him as if he were a saint, that he never did anything wrong. Everything was about Connor. I discovered though that I was going too far in talking about him in an elevated, positive manner. I turned him into a perfect person. He was not perfect. He was human and made mistakes.
I was putting Connor on a pedestal and totally forgot about those left living in the wake of his death. I know I made them feel less valued and loved than their brother. I can imagine their frustration on this new supporting role of a saint.
Reflecting on what was happening, I realized I was so focused on the land of the dead and moved away from the land of the living which was my two daughters, friends, and family. They were all available to support me but Connor’s “Saint-hood” aka his larger-than-life memory was stopping me from staying present for those who remained.
I decided it was important to remember the negative things as well, without being demeaning. The trick to this was to recall his flaws and quirks with humor. We laughed about his tardiness and how we had to tell him dinner was an hour earlier just so he would be on time. We laughed about him lifting his leg like a dog when he had gas. We shared stories about how many times he borrowed money from each of us and never paid it back. He was not perfect, yet we loved him for all his imperfections.
It is great to remember your loved one’s positive qualities. It is even better to remember them in their entirety, quirks, and all. Your loved one wants to be remembered as they were and not the perfect person it is so easy to turn them into.
I am so glad I revoked Connor's Sainthood. There is peace in the Kingdom.
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Peggy Green is a has experienced the grief of losing many loved ones including two of her children. Walking through grief caused her to seek out ways to heal her own grief and then share those steps with others. Her mission is to bring hope to mothers who are grieving the loss of a child and support to those who feel they can't find hope for the future.
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