SEP 22 2021    
Blue Traveller
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Blue Traveller

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No, I did not forget the 's' or misspell traveller (homage to my Canadian education), although I do love the band! This is about a much more solemn subject: Grief.

I have capitalized Grief because it is such a HUGE part of my life. We have all experienced grief, whether it's in the wake of the death of a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, spouse, sibling, friend, pet, etc., but there is one Grief that is devastatingly heart-wrenching: the death of a child.

When my 22-year-old daughter died in a car accident, it was especially difficult as we were living far from family and longtime friends. After the ceremonial traditions were completed, our visiting family members had returned to their respective homes, and friends went back to their daily routines, society seemed to expect life to return to "normal." I eventually found a support group led by other bereaved parents that was undoubtedly helpful during this isolating time; it was reassuring to learn I wasn't the only one hoping for a fatal medical prognosis, foreordaining that I would live only a few short months.

Similarly, our RV journey has been, at times, isolating and challenging. How should we celebrate holidays and recognize birthdays and angelversaries on the road without the company of those who knew my beautiful and spirited daughter?

Before launching as fulltimers, I was hopeful this adventure would help me rediscover the joy in living. We had so many places to see and family and friends to visit! We were particularly elated that we would be mobile and could travel more readily to see the kids and grandchildren. However, my supportive enthusiasm is frequently dampened by my own unrealistic expectations. (I should mention here that when my husband and I married over 25 years ago, he had three children, I had my daughter, and we subsequently had a son of our own.)

During a recent visit, my husband’s young grandchildren asked their mother who I was. (They are now old enough to formulate sentences.) She told them "Dottie": not “Grandma;” not even “Grandma Dottie.” Occasionally, they would forget my name and ask, "Pop-Pop, where’s the girl?" (“Pop-Pop and The Girl” would actually be a great name for a band!)

All joking aside, I could feel the ache swell in my chest. A mere honest response to a young child’s question (my name IS Dottie, right?) was a painful reminder that I would never have the chance to love and enjoy my own daughter's children. (Perhaps, one day, my son will have children and I will be a real "Grandma," but I hope that's in the very distant future as he’s still attending university.)

Life goes on with its highs and lows whether you’re living in a sticks-and-bricks or actively seeking adventure. So, how can we bereaved parents find support while on the road between visits with family and friends who know our history?

I have contemplated starting a Birds-of-a-Feather group with Escapees or a special interest group with RVillage, but it feels so contrived. Journalling is frequently recommended as an outlet for the overwhelming feelings of Grief; I have not yet embraced this prescription. Although many friends and family have encouraged me to write my memoir due to the adventurous life I have led, I have talked myself out of that undertaking, convinced that one only writes a memoir to share one’s story of enlightenment. I’m still on that journey.

Finally, I ask, knowing that Grief is such a HUGE part of our lives, how should we bereaved parents introduce ourselves to find others who may be able to relate and offer mutual support? Isn’t our Grief written all over our faces?

"Hi, I'm Dottie and this is my husband Will. We have been fulltimers for nearly two years. Oh, and by the way, I'm a Bereaved Mom."

There, I said it. I... am... a... bereaved... mom. *sigh*


Kris.CastroEdited JUN. 29, 2023 AT 11:33 AM

Dottie - :)

Kris.CastroEdited JUN. 29, 2023 AT 11:33 AM

Dottie - Thank you for sharing your story. Your writing is a form of keep at it!  You did a great job pulling me into your story and keeping me reading until the end. I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter. My "adopted" Mom (I was a Youth For Christ Director long ago. I adopted her daughter as my "kid" and they adopted me as a "daughter." It's been a beautiful relationship for decades, long after I left YFC) is going through a similar grief process as well. Her daughter (my "sister") died in April 2021 from the long journey of cancer. She lost her second husband shortly after that, so it's double grief. However, she's an amazing lady and finding her way through it all. May the Lord be with you and Will as you continue with your adventures and celebrate your daughter's life along the way. Blessings to both of you! :) ~Kris Castro

RootSleuthsEdited JUN. 29, 2023 AT 11:34 AM

Thank you for your warm comments.

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