Reflections

Sam Brown

It was December 20, 1994 when I got home and heard a message on my answering machine from a cousin that I rarely speak to. He left a message telling me to call him or my aunt. I knew immediately something wasnít right. I called and learned that my grandmother had been killed in an auto accident. My mother was also in the taxi and was hurt but nothing too serious. Apparently the driver of the taxi they were in went through a red light and a van struck the car. My grandmother died before they even got to the hospital.

Itís July, 1996 as I write this and although I do not feel the intense pain, anger and sadness that I felt previously, I still do not feel joy in my life. I am still struggling to come to terms with her death, not so much in terms of her not being here, but more in terms of how to go on knowing that this is how life operates. This is not my first experience with sadness but this one experience has dealt me a blow that is lasting longer than I would have thought. I am still trying to recover.

My grandmother was like a mother to me. She took care of myself and my sisters when we were young since my real mother was incapable of caring for us. (Thatís a whole other story in itself.) She loved us so much. My grandmother, we called her Ma, and my step-grandfather, Daddy, had a son and daughter of their own that they were caring for at the same time. They did not have it easy taking care of five children. They were not well off financially but they knew, mostly my grandmother I think, that they had to care for us. Ma did not want to see us get in a bad home if we were adopted. She was always concerned about how others might affect us.

I look back at what she did for us and just feel like she did not get what she deserved. She always said that she did not want to linger before death so in a way I think her death is really what she wanted. Itís very hard though not having had the opportunity to have said good-bye to her. I hadnít seen her in about a year before she died but we spoke and wrote to each other. The last time we were in touch was the birthday card she sent me. It had a picture of a dog on the front of the card that was similar to a dog in a painting she had that I always wanted but my aunt had asked for the painting already. I think this was her way of showing me her love. I cry as I write about it now. Iím not sure I could ever feel that kind of love again.

The path of grief was compounded by the fact that I felt somewhat responsible for my grandmotherís death. About three months before she died, I had had a dream in which she and my step-grandfather, who was already deceased, were crossing a road. As they reached the other side, a van in the distance got into an accident. My grandparents were not hurt but someone was and I remember seeing this person and their wound was a greenish color. I never told anyone that dream before my grandmotherís death and in fact, I didnít think anything of it. Until December 20, 1994. I look back at that even now and wonder if I should have said something. Some things cannot be changed and thatís one of them. Iím not sure I can ever forget.

My grandmother was like a savior to me. I see her as a rescuer for me as well as my sisters. Even after I grew older and moved back to my mother, she was really still my mother. I always called her Ma and called my mother by her first name. She was always there to listen when I was going through hell with my real mother. It seems so unfair that she should die like this especially when she did so much for me. Itís hard to convince myself that this is really what she wanted. Maybe one day I will really be able to get it.

At this point, Iím trying to continue on and find out why I should continue on in this life. Itís hard. I am consciously trying to go down the acceptance path in regard to my grandmotherís death as well as myself. I donít know if I should be living life like this but I donít know what else to do. I donít know what this path or the future holds. All I know is that December 20, 1994 changed my life forever.

Well, that's my story. Feel free to write me any time. I would especially like to hear from those who have experienced a sudden, violent death of a loved one.

Sam



If you wish to write Sam you can find him at:sbrown@saonet.ucla.edu
mail welcome


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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW