Saturday, November 24, 2007

At the Holidays

A friend posted this and I thought I would too. It's a really good look inside the hearts of grieving parents. It's a tough time of year, made even tougher if people forget to remember.

Do not worry that mentioning the name of the child will "remind" bereaved parents of their child. We remember our child every minute of every day. We want to talk about our child. Mention his name. One of our biggest fears is that he will be forgotten and one of our biggest joys is to hear his name.

Understand that we are parents without the right number of children. Because of this we experience over and over again fear, anger, guilt, sorrow, loss of future, isolation, abandonment. These are not steps that we work through but feelings that will continue to return forever with various intensity and in different forms.

Keep in mind that there really is no "closure" to the grief for the loss of a child. How can there be? Such loss is against nature and against all that we understand in the passage from one generation to the next.

What you say to bereaved parents is less important than that you say something. Ignoring bereaved parents is only adding to the burden of grief. Simply asking "How are you doing?" can be very helpful. But do it often.

When bereaved parents return to the workplace, make sure that you stop by, even if it's just to say "hello." After the loss of a child, parents often feel as if they are starting all over. This "new life" is just in the infancy stage and a friendly word makes a difference.

Call bereaved parents just to let them know you are thinking about them. Don't be insulted if they do not call you. Grieving saps energy for a long time.

Never think that grieving parents are somehow "holding onto their grief. "There is no such thing. The loss of a child causes endless grief that becomes part of the bereaved parent's inner self forever.

Remember that grief is not a process that one goes through a step at a time. Grieving is a roller coaster ride, and it is circular. The first couple of years, we are numb. When the numbness goes away, we are shocked to see that the world has gone on without our child. When we come out of this numbness, we are different people with a new sense of what it is to be "normal."

When parents lose their child, their hearts are broken. A huge hole is left. This hole will never heal - only the jagged edges around the hole may heal with time. Our grief, not always in the same form and maybe not as intense, will be with us the rest of our lives.

It does not matter how a child died or whether he was one week old or sixty years old. Nor does it matter whether there are surviving children. There is something absolute about the loss of each and every individual child.

Certain times of year will trigger intense sadness. Birthdays, anniversaries of the death, holidays, Mother's and Father's Day, weddings and funerals are just some. We can never properly prepare ourselves for these days. A simple "I am thinking of you and I know this day must be hard" goes a long way with bereaved parents.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


It is amazing what can become "normal" to us . . .

Normal for me is trying to decide what to take to the cemetery for Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s day, and Easter.

Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel with chat buddies who have also lost a child.

Normal is feeling like you know how to act and are more comfortable with a funeral and being at the cemetery. Yet, feeling a stab of pain in your heart when you smell the flowers, see that casket, and all the crying people.

Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming because you just don't like to sit through church anymore. And yet feeling like you have more faith and belief in God than you ever have had before.

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your families' life.

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand 'what if's' and 'why didn't I's' go through your head constantly.

Normal is having the TV on the minute you wake up and the last thing as you go to sleep at night. . .feeling the desperate need for noise because the silence is deafening.

Normal is every happy event in your life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind because of the hole in your heart.

Normal is telling the story of your baby’s death as if it were an everyday common place activity and then gasping in horror at how awful it sounds.

And yet realizing it has become part of our normal.

Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child's memory and their birthday and survive those days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fits the occasion.

Normal is feeling a common bond with friends in England, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, and all over the USA, yet never having met any of them face to face.

Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother and meeting for coffee and talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.

Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned house or did laundry or if there is any food in the house.

Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have children because it is not worth explaining that they are in Heaven. And yet when you avoid that problem you feel horrible as if you have betrayed your children.

And last of all normal is hiding all the things that have become normal for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal".

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What impropriety or limit can there be in our grief for a man so beloved?
~Horace, Carmina

A friend recently asked me if I wished my blog was anonymous, and I admitted that sometimes I did. I would like to facelessly/namelessly be able to share my deepest feelings without fear of judgement. I would like to be able to say I am still grieving without being accused of selfish motives (apparently if I say I'm sad, it's just so people will comfort me). Unfortunately, through some lessons learned both here and in real life, I have come to understand that there will always be people who judge us, and hiding behind masks doesn't make it any easier to bear.

I am still sad. Despite what others might think, it's not depression. I know depression, have experienced it quite deeply, and still deal with it. This goes deeper than depression, and it's completely different. It is grief, and it is profound. I've gotten really, really good at fooling people. I can do what they want . . .act happy, don't mention my boys (it might upset someone!), and pretend that everything is going great. But the thing that scares me is that I've gotten so good at it, I almost fool myself sometimes. Looking through my picture folders on my computer last night, I realized it had been months since I'd looked at Brian and Sawyer's photos. I went through them, and immediately the tears began to flow. What hurt the most was my sudden realization that I'd been trying so hard to convince everyone else I was okay I had neglected to spend time with my sons.

So tonight, this is what you get. My ramblings and my music. I updated my song list because when you can't speak grief, music can do it for you.

Grief. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal.

~C.S. Lewis