Category Archives: Coping

My Firsts

My son, Justin, passed away January 28, 2014. It has been almost five months without him. Time has stood still and moved on at the same time. We have been told that all the “firsts” are the hardest. Hard isn’t the word that I would use. I would most likely use these words to explain it: Hell, pure torture, yearning (for that loved one to come back) and heart wrenching.

Justin’s 19th birthday would have been February 13th. During this time, I was still in shock and didn’t feel the true impact of the day. Easter was the first holiday without him. The numbness had ceased to exist at this point. Justin was leaving for the Navy three days before his birthday so in my mind, that is where he was, in Illinois for boot camp. That wasn’t the case. On Easter, our son, Jake (who is a Marine) called to wish us a happy holiday. When I got off the phone with him I half expected a phone call that I have yet to receive from Justin. This was the first day of true acceptance for me. Justin is gone.

The first Mother’s Day was better than I was expecting, only because Justin’s friends came in his place. I don’t think that these young men and women knew the true impact they had on me that day. We talked about and laughed about Justin. It brought him closer to me for that moment in time. “I’m here with you, Mom. See. Don’t be sad.” Boy, is he mistaken. I carry sadness with me every day but am able to find some blessing in each passing moment.

For those who are grieving, these firsts will take you by surprise. You won’t really know how the day or event will affect you. I am very vocal about my journey to help myself and others around me. By telling others, “I’m not sure if I will be able to stay due to…” and “bad day” if I couldn’t talk about it at that particular time or tell them why if I could.

I’m writing this to help others understand that these “firsts” are so hard but you can survive them by being prepared as much as possible and communicating, even when you don’t want to. I know that I am not the only who has gone through this. To help others, what are some of the things that happened and how you made your way through the one of the firsts?

-Sandra Cates

Justin was a handsome little man.

Justin was a handsome little man.