First let me take this opportunity to thank you all for taking an interest in learning about grief, a topic I believe more people need to understand as it is a fact that all of us will experience grief sometime in our lives.

I would like to tell you how I came to learn about grief first hand, with the death of my 20 year old son Robbie Boc.

On February 27, 1995 my husband had to pick up the phone and report to the Police that our Son was missing. there had been no word from our Son in three days. Even though Robbie had his own apartment he used to call me several times a day.

The search by Police, Private Investigator, Family and Friends continued on for seven weeks. Robbie's body was pulled from the Welland River on Saturday April 8, 1995. Family and Friends started to arrive at our home hours before we had any word from the Police. In actuality most of my family were present at the river while Robbie's body was being brought to shore. Bob and I were unaware of this, we had had no word of anything. I was told that my Mother pleaded with the Police to identify Robbie so she could come to me and tell me it was my Son. She was refused. An officer behind the detective nodded his head "YES". God bless him for that.

When the detectives arrived at our home late in the evening they were visibly surprised to see the house full of people. I was asked if we could go somewhere private, so we went up into the bedroom. The detective proceeded to explain to us what had happened in the earlier hours. We asked if they were sure it was Robbie. We were told they were 99% sure but we had to wait for that 1% confirmation from the Ontario Coroners office. I asked to go to see my Son and I was told his body had already been sent to Hamilton for an autopsy and identification. I later found out that Robbie's body had remained in the Welland Hospital until 1:00 p.m. the following afternoon. I can say to you all here that I fell and still feel five years later that it should always be the families choice whether or not they want to see the body of their loved one. The affect this had on me later was awful. If you feel the body is in to bad shape say so be honest don't lie. I know a lot of the time this decision is made out of concern, but by not giving the family the choice you have robbed them. In my situation if I would of been told the truth and not protected there were man I could of asked to view Robbie. People who knew Robbie, and family who worked in the hospital, actually a cousin who is a Registered Nurse was working the night Robbie's body was brought in. She asked to see Robbie but was refused due to investigative purposes. The investigation would not have been hampered by allowing her to see my son, what it would of done was help me through the denial stage which lasted for years for me for we never ever saw our Son since the day he went missing, neither did anyone who knew him.

Robbie's body was found on the Saturday and it was not until Wednesday that his body was taken to the funeral home. We arrived for visitation at 1:00 p.m. I, Robbie's mother, was walking people up to the closed casket, comforting everyone, I was there but yet so very far away. I remember every detail, every person who came to the funeral home and everyone who didn't. Some people remember all, some don't . When it comes to grief it is as individual as the person themselves.

With the funeral over the support was also over. From a house full of people for seven weeks, we went to total silence. People don't realize this is when you need them the most. Grief sets in and grabs a hold of you with relentless pain. You feel like your having a heart attack, grief is truly a physical pain your body reacts to the grief you are going through with the loss of a loved one "IT HURTS"

I also felt like dying, taking my own life, I wanted the pain to end. you may be shocked but this is a normal feeling after the loss of a close loved one. You have to be very careful because if you find out the griever has made specific plans it is a warning sign, seek professional help immediately. Don't wait for them to get help for themselves, get it for them, you may be the one to save their life. Remember they are in so much pain and can't see the pain will ease for that is a long journey.

One thing I have learned through my own loss and from operating "Meeting of Hearts" an online grief support site is you can not walk around grief, you have to go through it. Feel all the pain, cry all the tears and go through all the stages. These stages don't necessarily go in any order or in any time frame. I will explain to you how I felt through the stages as best I can.


I believe I was in shock when I walked people up to my Sons casket. I was numb. I couldn't feel. I didn't believe any of this was real even though it was starring me right in the face. People were crying all around me but I was numb. I could not eat, I could not sleep. I would read books even through all that was happening. I don't even know how I could lay in bed and read when my sons body was laying in a strange place not even a quarter of a mile from our home. This is "SHOCK", the body and minds way of protecting you from going insane. I am thankful for "SHOCK", but the shock does wear off.


Life becomes so hard, you can't make decisions. Families grow apart as they are expecting support from one another which can't be done in a lot of cases as they are hurting also. Each in a different way with different ways of handling the pain. You are trying to hold on to whatever is left of a shattered family. You are expected to return to work, to start living normally. How can you when you are trying to survive within yourself. Society says you have to go on, but Society has to realize our lives are now in such upheaval, we can't think, never mind work right away. There are some who do want to return right away and that is an individuals choice. I found with myself that I didn't even have the wits about me to pay my bills, to think clearly, to even live, life was to hard. I just couldn't handle anything, life was a mess. I just wanted my Son back, nothing else mattered.


Depression is so apparent after a loss. I know I fell into deep depression. I didn't want to do anything. I didn't even get dressed. I just laid around and tried to sleep my life away so I wouldn't hurt anymore. I wanted the pain to end. I cried and cried, I think I have cried an ocean over the years. I felt there was nothing left for me. Judy didn't exist, half of her left with Robbie, the other half was for her husband and surviving Son. I didn't exist. I was no more and the depression sunk me deeper into my despair. You have so many people say "just snap out of it" but fighting depression is not easy, it takes medical attention and a lot of support and understanding.


In my case since the time my Son had gone missing I had lost 40 lbs. very quickly. I couldn't eat and I was running on nerves. My body shuddered, my hands shook. At time it was hard to breath. I felt like my chest would burst wide open, my heart couldn't take anymore pain. Grief is a physical pain, it is real and it hurts terribly. I believe that a broken heart is physical and the hardest part of the body to mend.


Your mind racing, thoughts not stopping, in my case all I kept hearing was Robbie, Robbie, Robbie. I would try to relieve this by doing physical things. I became a whirlwind, tearing rooms apart, re-painting, totally exhausting myself thinking it would ease the anxiety I was feeling. What I was actually doing was causing more anxiety. I would look around at the mess and become more anxious, I was trying to fight anxiety by causing more. I would hyperventilate, I was out of control. Instead of doing what I should of done, try to relax myself, maybe take a hot bath. I added more stress. Anxiety hit me in stores mostly. I couldn't stand people smiling, hearing them laugh. I would panic, and anxiety would set in having me leave the store and head home. Anxiety is pretty scary when it takes a hold of your life.


I became very angry at the world. This is not fair! Why me! Why my Son! I became very angry at family and friends for not acting the way I thought they should be acting. How dare they celebrate Christmas. How dare they go on living don't they know Robbie died, everything needs to stop. There isn't a life anymore. I screamed at God. I screamed in my home. I felt no one cared and I was angry and felt justified in these feelings. But in doing this I was actually pushing people away. I also became very angry yelling at Robbie's picture on the living room wall "Why did you do this, why didn't you walk across the bridge" I wanted answers and was angry because I knew I would never get the answers. Please remember when dealing with the bereaved that their anger is not directed at you, it is a stage of grief, and all who are grieving go through it. sometimes the anger must be released physically, this a good time to beat up a pillow or join a gym so you can release the built up anger ! within for if you don't release it, it will eat you alive.


I found the guilt so hard to deal with. I looked back through 20 years of Robbie's life looking for answers. To me I should of known. I was his mother. I was supposed to protect my child. I was supposed to have instincts which were supposed to warn me of impending harm. I was supposed to be there for my child, he should not have died alone, he needed his "MOM" I felt terrible guilt being alive! I should be dead not my Son. I felt guilty for working. I felt guilty for not spending enough time with him. But most of all I felt guilty for not doing what I was supposed to do "Protect My Child". Guilt is a normal stage of grief, no matter the loss we have all had arguments, things we would like to change and after death it is to late, and most of the time we look for the guilt ourselves.


Once you have suffered the loss of a loved one, you have a terrifying fear of losing again. We all know that no one lives forever, but once we have suffered a loss we know the pain and fear sets in. My biggest fear after going through the unimaginable was to ever lose my surviving Son. When he would go out with his friends I would panic. He was 18 years old and I was so scared. I know I couldn't keep him from living his life, if I did I would be pushing him away from me. I had to deal with my fear in silence, letting him live his life while hoping and praying he would be okay.


For the first couple of years when I thought of my Son the tears would fall like an open faucet. Now five years later his memory brings a smile to my face. I remember he lived, he didn't just die "HE LIVED".


To heal I found I could only live one day at a time. To look ahead was to hard. I never thought I could get through one day but I am still here five years later. I cried a lot and that is healing, we have to cry. So many would say "don't cry" they didn't know that to heal I needed to cry. I always felt better after a cry, it released a lot of emotion. We also know we are haling when we can put our own feelings aside to help someone else. Healing is a long process. Sometimes I would feel I had come a long way only to fall back once again. At first the pain control you but then you learn to control the pain.


This is the day when your heart and mind knows that your loved one is gone. They are not going to walk back in the door. it is also the day you move forward in your life. Looking ahead with a smile. You will never forget them but you learn to live again carrying them in their new home YOUR HEART.

Written for a presentation given on Grief on February 8, 2000 by myself Judy Boc

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