Surviving Grief … A Grieving Mother

Surviving Grief … A Grieving Mother

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee





Photos of Gloria Faye Brown Bates with her son Tommy when younger.  Tommy was proud of his mother … his mother was proud of him.


When a mother loses her child … no one knows the pain unless you are a mother who loses her child. By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee


When a mother loses her child … no one knows the pain unless you are a mother who loses her child. By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

The holidays are here once again. Families will be gathering … mothers, sons, daughters, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins … all mine have gone … I’ll never see them again.  Everyone is gone … it does hurt deeply.

So much happiness to see each other … I used to know how it felt to have my son come home.  The holidays and my son’s birthday, November 20th … are days I don’t dread now … I think of the happy times when Tommy came home to be with us for a wonderful meal, family time.

I have my most treasured world now … Skip and The Pups (our two Pups Kissy Fairchild and Camie Leigh).  With my Heart I treasure them.

I’m amazed I have come so far.  Why?  Six years ago my world came to an end.  For over 3 years I didn’t know whether I lived … died.  I wouldn’t have cared either way.  This sounds awful … but, when one gets in that condition you know the … worst has happened.

The worst being the very moment I answered the phone from a stranger 200 miles away … at Myrtle Beach, S.C.  The strange thing was the caller ID.  It said … Tommy.  I was smiling bright, happy as I always did when Tommy called me.  This time wasn’t any different.

I was the first person to know that my son, Tommy … had collapsed on the sand at Myrtle Beach while running, playing with his little 3 year old son.  The stranger had picked up Tommy’s cellphone and pressed last call dialed … it was me.  Can you imagine?

Now … I’m glad I was the first to know … because I, his mother was the last person he called and our call was full of laughter, happiness … and pure relief knowing my son and his family had arrived safely on the holiday weekend to their destination.

I asked the man why he had my son’s phone.  He said, “ma’am, I have a man here collapsed on the sand … he’s not breathing”.  I heard him but, I didn’t hear him.  Maybe my mind just couldn’t hear him … maybe I was trying to will the words to be different … maybe, maybe, maybe.

My world … sunshine … blacked out as soon as I became aware of what the man said.  I never knew when I quit smiling, feeling happy.

6 years later I still look back to ‘see’ in my mind the years I lost … because at that moment I was plunged into darkness … the darkest dark you could imagine.  The most painful pains you could ever imagine.  The darkest of clouds blacked out my sunshine … I became the living dead.

I’ve grieved so much in my life … as each family member died on both sides of my family.  At that time about 19 family members I truly loved were gone.  I had almost died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma … Skip had almost died from colon cancer … he also, survived a tractor-trailer wreck in New Mexico and two weeks later … survived a wreck at home when he was t-boned.

Not only that we survived a house fire … we got our dogs out … Skip went back inside to get his billfold … he got lost trying to get out.  Our neighbor led him out with the sound of his voice.  He got several burns.  We lost everything.  It goes on … one thing after the other.

Many ‘bad’ things happened … we kept coming back from them.  We survived them.  No bitterness … no ‘woe is me and why did this happen to me?’  We didn’t have time to roll in self-pity … we had to pick ourselves up, keep living.

Until … the evening I quit living.  Oh my body was still there … it moved, it spoke … I … wasn’t there.  My mind had soared into the vast darkness of grief … it couldn’t stay … inside me.  My body wasn’t big enough to hold such horrible knowledge that my son, my only child had died.  Thank God for darkness … thank God for somehow giving me an escape to where I stayed for over 3 years.

At this moment I stop … look back.  I can’t ‘see me’ then.  I can remember only bits here, there.  How did I take my shower, dress, talk, walk, wash clothes … clean house, etc?  How did I?  Isn’t it strange what our bodies can do while our minds … are trying to survive a trauma?  I’ve been in shock many, many times in my life.  You would think I’d be a pro at being shocked … each time is new, different.  One never gets used to being told someone they love has died … the pain is so great I can’t describe it.

Even being in shock I never asked for pity, I never shared my grief with people around me … only shared it in my written words as I sat in my darkness … with all my friends, people online.  I did write, publish a 738 page book of pure grief … I can’t even remember doing it.

I Cry For Tommy is the name of my book.  One can only get it on Amazon … at  I am not trying to sell my book … sometimes someone ask where can they get a copy.

Of course it didn’t become a best seller but … that wasn’t the purpose of that book.  It saved my life.  Writing it gave me a place to go to … to put all my grief in one place.  A place to cry … talk.  A safe darkness where no one had to see, talk to me … a place I could be alone.  A place where I kept trying to find Tommy … over time learn to cope with his death … learn to accept it.

I meant to make sure my son would never be forgotten.  He won’t be forgotten because every book someone reads will remember him … and when I make golden dragonflys … leave them in public for someone to find … Tommy will be remembered.  My son was most special to me … and I will take my last breath remembering him … he was a part of me, my body when he came into this world.  How can I let his memory be forgotten?

I haven’t written for the past year … Skip became very ill and almost died 3 times.  January to June were critical months.  He recovered and is doing fine.  Now I find myself wanting to write again.

I will write the colors of my life … and as promised from the time I began this blog … I will write about grief.  I know it best … I’ll write about pain.  These things I know best in life … when I write about them you will see that I don’t want anyone’s pity.  Why?  Because from the time I was a little girl … all the ‘bad’ things that happened to me began to strengthen me for all the ‘bad’ things that I’ve survived in this life … I am very strong for it.  I’m like the Redwood tree … I have weathered many, many storms … I’m scarred but, I’m still standing.

Also … I deal with things in the most positive way possible even when it appears that I’m not.  I have to … that’s me … it’s the only way I can keep the sun shining inside … I need all the wonderful, beautiful light possible to keep the darkness of grief away.  Why?  Because the pain never goes away … it’s always just beneath the surface waiting … waiting like a fish to be pulled out of the water.  The good thing now is that I can be alright … I can get past it because I have to.  I can’t let myself dwell in it very long … I might get lost in that darkness again, not find my way out.

My son, only child is gone … I am still here.  I will live until I die loving, remembering the little baby I had 47 years ago.  If living … he’d be an ‘old’ baby now … I would surely tell him that because in my mind I can hear his laughter at me saying such a thing.  🙂  He always teased me that I never could remember how old he was!




Note by this Author:

I am beginning to write again.  It felt good to write these words … write about Tommy … write about grief, pain.  Writing heals as I write … I’ve missed it very much this past year.  I will keep my promise to write about grief exactly the way it feels.  For all the readers who didn’t know that … know that I don’t write about it to gain sympathy.  I don’t need that at all.  I write so others can know, understand without going through it.  Also, any mother who has lost her child will know someone is … there.

Photos, story owned … written by Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee.


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