How can I go back there? I don't know if it will help? Will it even be worth my while? I don't want to hear about someone else's pain!
Rachel was an organ donor and a year after her death my family and I were invited to attend a gathering celebrating the gift of life. Photos of those who had died would be shown, a brief story of their lives, and how so many people are blessed because of this selfless gift.
At first my husband was not sure if he wanted to go, I did, but with some apprehension. We decided to attend, sent in our response card, photos and any other information they required. We drove to the location and upon arrival were amazed at the number of people in attendance. There were donor families and well as recipients and their families. We met many who like us, had decided to donate their loved one's organs and tissue (a decision Rachel had made when she renewed her license). We also met those whose lives were improved as a result of our saying yes.
We cried, we laughed, we felt a bond that could not be explained. So many like us had lost a loved one, had had to say good bye to someone, we shared grief. For those who had received the gift of life, they could not say enough to thank us. When all was said and done we were very glad we had decided to attend.
More recently, I was asked to speak to medical professionals at the hospital where Rachel had been taken to, cared for and later died from her injuries. I was excited about sharing her story, but I had not been back to that hospital since her death. I said yes, but as the day approached I wondered if I had done the right thing. I drove to the hospital, it is quite some distance from our home town, so it gave me time to think, wonder how I'd feel, would I be okay, and go over what I would be saying. As I neared the hospital and drove past the site were the accident had taken place, a fear gripped me, leaving me suddenly tense. I arrived, took a deep breath and walked in, met the contact person, and did my thing. When I finished my presentation, answered any questions, I was asked if I would like to go up to the unit that Rachel had been in. I had made it this far, sure I'd love to. I was amazed that 3 1/2 years later, some of the staff still remembered my daughter and me, and the last thing I expected was to have people anxious to meet me, waiting to meet me.
At the end of the day, I had made it, reached another milestone in this journey called grief, and felt relief. I was glad I had said yes, I had a chance once again to share Rachel's story and to realize that she had made a mark on total strangers.
Today I was speaking to someone who less than a year ago lost her husband, she said she has her moments and sometimes feels as if she is waiting for something. She also told me that she had been invited to attend a function at the hospital where her husband had been a patient. She was not sure is she wanted to attend. I shared this same story with her and explained how it had truly helped me in the healing, but like anything else, only she knew how she felt.
All too often we are afraid to return to the accident scene, to the hospital that our loved one spent days, weeks, maybe even months in treatments and such, or to any place that held a special significance to our loved one. We are afraid that those memories will be too much, too painful, and we are scared. What if we can't handle it, what if we break down, so many questions. But only when you give it try, will you know how you will cope. Give yourself time, do what is best for you, only you can know when you feel alright with anything.
But keep in mind, if you get the chance, let yourself go back to the places that hold those strong memories, and allow yourself to find release, to free yourself of those ghosts. Allow yourself to live.
Celebrate their lives, celebrate their gifts to you and others, celebrate everything they meant and still mean to you. Love overcomes all, love is the foundation that keeps us grounded when the storms come. Love is their gift to you.
Blessings! and until we meet again.