A good friend of mine, who has also experienced the death of a child, sent me a clip of the song “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” on April 27th of this year, which would have been my daughter Jeannine’s 28th birthday. Jeannine became forever 18 on 3/1/03 as a result of a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma. Jeannine’s favorite Disney character was Tigger. Jeannine loved Tigger because he bounced and was the only one. Jeannine certainly bounced with what seemed to be an endless supply of energy during this lifetime. There were days that I got tired just trying to keep up with her. As an aside, the fatigue that I experienced in my early grief following Jeannine’s death did not compare with the fatigue that I experienced trying to keep up with her when she was alive. The fatigue that I had when Jeannine was alive was always temporary because of the joy I experienced from her constant physical presence in my life. In early grief, I was never sure that I would recover from the fatigue of dealing with the profound pain and sadness associated with her permanent physical absence. Jeannine was truly in my eyes the only one of her kind, a passionate, heartfelt soul who defied conventional wisdom. I am convinced today that Tigger is as much a part of her spiritual identity on the other side. I believe that her Tigger energy is touching all whom she has met. I know that the Tigger in her continues to redefine me, teach me, and shape the path that I am on. Jeannine’s earthly life and eternal life continue to teach me that there is no such thing as conventional wisdom and that there are several ways to go down the path of enlightenment. We may all bounce on that path differently, but our destination remains the same.
Grief – An Uncomfortable Fit?
Tigger also boasted of having a “rubber top”(in the video clip, he is stretching his ears). Rubber reminds me of the need for all parents to reshape their worlds following their children’s’ deaths. Our life long journeys become more meaningful when we reshape and stretch the boundaries of our thinking about life and death, which in turn forces us to challenge beliefs that no longer suit us. It is at times an uncomfortable fit, but a necessary one if we are ever going to learn to live again, while celebrating the lives of our children.
Cuddle Your Grief: It is OK
In the song, Tigger boasts that “Tiggers are cuddly fellows.” Throughout our journeys, sometimes we just need a hug or a reassuring touch or nod to let us know that there is hope and that we can transcend the most painful of tragedies. Sometimes others need the same from us. Actions of love many times speak louder than words. Hugs, reassuring touches or nods are powerful forms of cuddling. These gestures represent powerful forms of presence in our time of need and expressions of unconditional love. Whether you are the recipient or the giver, embrace and celebrate that cuddling part of Tigger in your journey.
I like to think that our children were and are all Tiggers in their own way. Each of our children have unique gifts and an energy that positively and permanently affected anyone who had the privilege to bare witness to it. It is that energy that drives us as parents to make sure that they are always remembered and that their legacy lives on long after we cross over. Celebrate the Tigger in your children and let their unique gifts, energy and talents continue to guide you on your journey. Maybe in the process, you will become a Tigger too.
I have two stuffed Tiggers that belong to Jeannine, prominently displayed on the shelf overlooking my desk. Their presence not only facilitates an ongoing connection with my Jeannine, but triggered this additional thought:
“It is not about the destination, but the journey.”
Updated: August 19, 2013