What would Tina do?


What would my daughter have done, if she were still alive? I look to the heavens even now after six years and  still ask myself, out loud at repeatedly, “what would Tina do?”  I know the answer, and it helps me get through some very tough and awkward times.

 She died on August 29, 2007, one day before my husband and my anniversary.  “Ouch” say many who find this out.

The day she found out she had cancer is just before Thanksgiving, another ‘Ouch’.

Her birthday is right before Christmas, the biggest ‘Ouch’ of all.

It’s been over five years now, and here come the holidays and just now I am looking for a reasonable explanation (for myself) into how I got through the first four years after her death.  After pouring over the internet and looking for a ‘psychological’ answer I realized that all that is written on this subject, has been written by very astute doctors in the field of psychoanalysis of this problem, but none I have found have actually lost a child.  Their words may be comforting to some, but I find them shallow, as they mentally and physically have not gone through the trauma themselves.

 Support groups are better, but feeding on each other’s grief during this time seems to bring more pain, instead of less pain.  The tears you thought were ‘letting up’, seem to flow more after talking to others in the same mind set, and down you go again, into that pit you have tried to avoid.  I have to ask myself after five years if this is healthy for me.  It isn’t!

 So, I have to ask, “What would my daughter Tina do”? During different times recently I head to the bottom of that pit over simple things, that I didn’t ‘allow’ myself to do for the first five years, I can hear her in my mind, and it pulls me up by the ‘ankles’ and helps with the reality of the moment.

 I like so many people sought out counseling at first, and got the standard answers, but it didn’t help.  I threw myself into helping others with the same condition Tina had, during the first years after her death, and it really staved off the gloom, despair and pain for the most part.  But here I am, and Tina being gone is just now setting in with a vengeance.  Why now?  After what I would have thought was a goodly length of time I am sort of in shock at my own inability to cope.  What has changed?  My dearest friend gave me an epiphany which made the most sense, and she  isn’t a doctored psychologist.  “You never gave yourself the space to grieve, by jumping in with both feet and taking on people whom you COULD help.”  She was right.

 I have a strong belief that my only daughter is still with me.  Simple everyday things lately, where I have a question on what I should do, I can actually hear her say, “Toss that, the expiration date was two months ago,” or “Get off your butt and go for a walk,” or the big one, “What are you waiting for, just do it.”

 All the so called professionals in the line of work to help a person through a grieving process, as far as I have read, miss one important thing to ‘putting one foot in front of the other’ and moving on after many years have passed since the death of a child, no matter what age that child may have been at the time of their death.  What would you do if that child was still alive?  No child would have wanted their parents to wallow in depression forever.

What would Tina do is now in the front of my brain, not the deep recesses I have tried so hard to suppress.  She would have said, “Mom, get a life, this is silly,” and she ‘is’ right.  She loved to entertain, and I haven’t done anything even remotely ‘entertaining’ in five years.  No one comes to the house anymore; I don’t invite people over for dinner anymore; I don’t seek out those with less than me to help through the very thing I have wanted to avoid.  The ‘holidays’.

 The so called ‘specialists’ that seem to have all the answers, don’t take into consideration those of us that worked through those first days/weeks and years that would have been the hardest if we had allowed ourselves to dwell on our loss.  I pride myself on the ability to research, and I can’t find one article on this…shall we call it a phenomena.  Maybe we could call it ‘post traumatic pain from loss’ and add a new category to the ‘psych’ notes.  Addressing this now, before the holidays, or before events that most people who have lost loved ones seem to count off on the calendar, should be dealt with, with literal ‘kid gloves’.  We have fought the mental war and feel we have crossed the bridge into normalcy, but in reality all those pent up emotions are still lying in wait for just the right time to mess with your mind and your physical being.

 What would Tina do?   She would say “Move on Mom, tomorrow is another day and you will get through this.”

Do the things you would do if your child were still with you.  Fill that Thanksgiving table with all the goodies you once did, or accept that invitation to a family or friends house, and enjoy.  Your child would, and you can too.  Put up the Christmas tree you have put off doing because it was too painful.  Look through your box of ornaments and find the little ones that were special ‘because’ of your lost child.  They thought they were special, you should still feel that way.  Rejoice in the knowledge that one day we will all be together again and smile at that knowledge and find that joy you once felt during the holiday or event that you have been shunning for too many years.  Break the shell you have surrounded yourself with, and come out with a smile.  It’s time.  Would ‘they’ not want that for you?  You know the answer to that question.

5 thoughts on “What would Tina do?

  1. Dearest Patti we are out here and I for one have read every word of both “What would Tina do” and “the bottom of the World”..I loved them both and you write from the heart, as is and honest..Your feelings are put into words and compel the reader to continue. You made me cry about Tina and Laugh about the bottom of the world. I went with you on your trip and enjoyed every minute of it…Thank you for writing it and sharing it with us and don’t you dare stop writing…Much Love, Your old friend, Mary

  2. the untimely death of my sister was 16 years go. I describe the continued effect as a hole in my heart. I’m not sure I want to ever lose this feeling. It’s how I stay connected to her. There are ramifications to this extended mourning (namely in my relationships with others). But it’s my process and I’ll do it my way. Overall life is good. Really good. So why try to “fix”‘it?

    1. I’m truly sorry about the loss of your sister Vincent. For each and every person we find a way to ‘stay connected’ in our own way. My choice was to dive into the world of Inflammatory Breast Cancer and try to help other women. That was thirteen years ago, and I’m still actively trying to help. That, I feel, is what Tina would do. Thank you for reading and God Bless.

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