Clara Hinton
Grief Speaker, Author, and Workshop Leader

Surviving the Death of My Son

7/7/2013 (Grief Relief)

Today it is a pleasure to introduce another guest writer, a beraved mom, who has been willing to share the struggles she went through to get back on her feet following the loss of her 35-year-old son Perry.  She writes with openness and allows us to enter her struggle through grief and her eventual place where she has found hope.


Please read this article by Judy Walters and be encouraged!



Clara Hinton


Struggling to Get Back On My Feet: Surviving the Death of My Son


In 2006 my youngest son died. He was 35 years old. It was, and still is,  the worst thing I have ever experienced. I'm no different than any other parent who loses a child. We all struggle to go on. We mourn in different ways. Some parents survive and some don't. There were many days I didn't know if I would or if I even wanted to. Perry never married and had no children. He did have 3 dogs that I had already taken under my care when he was no longer able to due to his alcoholism. I have another son 3 years older than Perry who did have a wife and children. I felt like I needed to live for them.


I was very involved in dog and cat rescue in my area before Perry's death. I had Perry's dogs, my dogs and numerous foster dogs when he died. They gave me a reason to drag myself out of bed each day. Once they were taken care of I dragged myself back to bed until it was time to feed them again in the evening. After a few days I realized that my husband had gone into hiding only to check on me occasionally. He seemed to be afraid of me, of my pain. Perry was his step-son. They were never close so his mourning and adjusting was different than mine.


Everyone seemed to be afraid of my pain and stayed away except my other son who was suffering the loss of his only sibling. He has been so good to his dad and me over the years. Always checking on us and allowing us to share our feelings and cry if we needed to. Since my husband was unable to hold, nurture and comfort me I reached out to the dogs and cats to be by my side day and night. They would snuggle around me on the bed and lay quietly all day and all night getting up only when it was time to eat and go out to potty. As soon as I got back in the bed they were there again licking the tears off my face and giving me all the support they could. It really helped and I think they were a big part in my survival.


Once I got enough strength back to get out of the house it was only for vet visits and to make trips to put the adopted foster dogs on transports to their new homes. When I'd return home I'd drop into the bed exhausted. Since the need to foster and care for homeless dogs and cats is so great I began to pour every bit of strength into taking on more foster dogs. They consumed all my time and energy. Many times I'd cry as I cleaned a kennel or did other chores related to taking care of lots of animals.


As long as I was busy tending to the needs of the animals it appeared that I was okay to the outside world but I was not okay inside. I never attended any grief recovery counseling or groups. I knew I was putting off the mourning that I needed to do but I was not ready to face it – not yet.


Finally 5 years after Perry's death I collapsed. I had a complete mental and physical breakdown. I had pushed myself as far as I could. I had to give up my rescue work and put the focus on getting my health and sanity back.


I didn't know at the time what was wrong with me. Maybe the flu, Lyme's disease? The doctors I went to did tests that all came back negative. I hurt all over like the flu and­ I was so weak and faint that I was hardly able to walk. My head hurt constantly. My brain was very foggy, unable to concentrate on anything, my memory was awful. I was unable to sleep more than 1-2 hours.


Finally after months of being in bed and seeing several doctors I was referred to an acupuncturist. He gave me IV nutrients and acupuncture. He also helped me find a natural supplement that helped me sleep. I am one of those difficult patients who refuse drugs so I was a real challenge for regular doctors.

After the acupuncturist did all he could for me and I was better I began to see other doctors, 10 in all. Each found something they could treat and then I'd be referred on to the next one. Finally after 1 1/2 years of being sick I decided that I needed some grief/stress counseling so I found a really good counselor who had lots of experience in the areas that I needed support.


What a nice, patient, understanding man he has been.  Not rushing me in any area, listening to me vent where I needed to vent and cry where I needed to cry.  Always giving me the support that I needed. Week after week he let me talk.  He assured me it was okay to cry as much as I needed to cry.  That was a good thing because I had buckets of tears to shed. 


After a few weeks he began hypnotherapy to help me learn to calm myself and relax.  My biggest medical problem was high cortisol due to stress.  There is no treatment except stress reduction so it was up to me and this counselor to teach my mind, heart, and body to stop producing adrenalin at crisis levels so my cortisol didn't destroy my internal organs.


I also discovered guided mediation on YouTube that is very helpful for daily practice. Everything I have done has helped.  My progress has been slow but I continue to get stronger and my depression is lifting.  I'm sleeping better without any sleep aides.  I've had to give up my rescue work due to stress but I still have three special needs dogs and two special needs cats that I will keep with me.  They need me and I need them.  Maybe one day I'll be strong enough to foster one dog or cat at a time.  I hope.


Today is the7th anniversary of Perry's death.  It is a sad day, but tomorrow will be better.<span style="font-family: Times New Roman
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