Welcome to Hope for Grieving Mothers

If you are new to this club (that no one asked to join- the one where your child has died), it is best to start by going to the BOTTOM RIGHT and look at the "Pages" section. Under this section you will find resources for mothers who are grieving the loss of their child. Resources to help your children deal with grief are also grouped together.

Next, feel free to look at the "Blog Archives." There are many topics that you may have an interest in reading. As you girlies know, we now have Teflon brains and often cannot have the focus power that we have had in the past. Feel free to come here often and hopefully you will FEEL the loving support that me and other mamas are sending. Hopefully you will begin to see sparks of hope for your future...

Hugs... Pamela

Friday, February 1, 2019

What Time Does Not Heal

My friend Erica wrote this blog article today and has agreed to all for me to share. I first met Erica a few years ago when she sang at our Annual Infant Loss Ceremony. She wrote the following song to remember her son Braden.  The songs lyrics and her angelic voice resonate deeply for me.  As of today, there have been over one million people listen to it on the following YouTube video. “Hug Him Once For Me.”  After listening to the song, read and connect with Erica’s thoughts below.

https://youtu.be/IBHEJtqKjkk

Because I no longer have my blog, I decided to share my heart here tonight. Please know that what I am about to share is very raw, very personal, and not intended to sound as though I am one without hope. I know that one day I WILL go to my son and see him again and we will be together forever. I would NOT bring him back from Heaven today if I could! But allow me some grace, as I am still a mother with longings just as yours. I write this tonight for those of you who have lost children, long ago or yesterday. I write this tonight for those of you who have never lost, but desire to empathize with those who have. I write this tonight for those of you who want to love on people but don't know what to say or do. I write this tonight to honor the memory of my precious, Braden Clark McClure.

Eleven years ago today, I entered Hayes Green Beach Hospital in Charlotte, MI for a scheduled induction at 39 weeks. Braden was clearly going to be a big baby, and I had previously had a shoulder dystocia with Mariah, that they feared would happen again. So with much excitement and anticipation we went in ready to meet this little fella! It did not take long at all before Braden made his grand appearance at a whopping 8 lbs and 14 ounces a WEEK EARLY!!! He too was born with the shoulder dystocia and so he looked like he had been in a boxing match when I first got the joy of holding him! I had loved him from the moment I knew I was pregnant with him, but holding him in my arms took it to yet another level. Little did I know that day that I would have such a short amount of time with this beautiful baby boy. I could share much more of the story of how it came about, but for sake of the purpose of this story tonight, I will fast forward to 5 1/2 months later. We had just got pictures done that week. Just had his vaccinations, and that Friday, he laid down for the last time here on earth and woke up in Glory. Fast forward now to today, January 31, 2019. Braden's 11th Birthday. What did we do? Well we have always made it a point to keep Braden's memory alive. We celebrate and talk openly about him with our other children. We look at pictures, and have them hanging in our home. Today, we took the kids to his grave to meet their dad and allow for a balloon release and lunch celebration with him and Michelle. We took them to the store to pick out gifts for their brother. We always do this, and every single time for me is the same. I walk in with anticipation of what I can get to shower my love on my little boy. And every single time, I walk down the birthday party isle. I see all of the things I WOULD be buying if he were here. I think what would be his theme? What would he love? It brings tears to my eyes, and I press on listening to my other children with excitement saying what we should pick out! I walk on to the toy isle and tell everyone to pick what they want to take to the grave, only to have to tell them no on so many things because they won't "stand up to the elements." I leave and walk through some isles alone choking back hot tears that want to flow down my face. Thinking, "It's not fair. I shouldn't have to try to figure out what can hold up in the winter, what can withstand the water, what is the right size, what won't blow away. I should be watching my son open birthday gifts that any 11 year old boy would open!" But outside I breathe, turn the corner to see my precious children figuring out what they think their brother would just LOVE to have. Their brother that they can only imagine and picture as a 5 1/2 month old baby that they see in the pictures, not an 11 year old ray of sunshine they could play with. We choose our items and take them to the graveside. We bake a cake and light candles and sing to Braden. And I listen to my children say, "Who will blow out the candles?" And as innocent as they are, it literally rips my heart in two knowing that it SHOULD be Braden blowing out the candles, but I respond, you all can!! We look through Braden's memory book and read poems and letters and look at pictures. I answer every question they ask me. I tell them stories about Braden. And I watch as they sweetly try to encourage me and love their brother that all but one of them have never met. And inside, as I do every single day, I wonder what Braden would be like. What he would look like. What he would enjoy. What he would sound like. And then I stop, realizing, I will never know the answer to that question. I allow my heart to ache. I allow the tears to flow. And I go to bed, to know that I will wake tomorrow, not having the pain gone just because his birthday is over, but that I will live with this trial the rest of my days on earth. It's been 11 years and I am still experiencing firsts. This year I experienced the first time three friends didn't say a word about Braden's birthday. I experienced not hearing from many of my family who normally acknowledge this day. Firsts are not always a good thing. Not always an easy thing. As I stated in the beginning, I do not mourn as one without hope, for I know that I will see him again. But please know that 11 minutes, 11 hours, 11 days, 11 weeks, 11 years, the heartache does not change. I still lost a son. One that is not replaced no matter how many children I have. One that mattered to me then and matters to me still. #Happybirthdaybaby #Iloveyoutothemoonandback

https://youtu.be/IBHEJtqKjkk

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Disney world and Emotions

My friends invited me on a trip, which includes a visit to Disney world. This adults only trip has been a fun adventure.

For the past two days I have been flooded with memories of the visit I made with my three children. I remember my daughters Tinkerbell earrings and Minnie Mouse hat. I remember Logan’s love for Goofy and the Tower of Terror.

Tonight we had dinner at a restaurant which included character visits to our table. When I saw Goofy, i was surprised by my anxious emotions. I wanted to turn my head and say "no thank you." Instead, I choked back the tears and forced a smile. No one wants to cry at Disney world! It is supposed to be the happier place on earth.

Because I am with others, I needed to quietly sit and wait until I could make my escape... escaping from the uncomfortable memories.
Then Donald Duck came to visit the next table with two excited preschoolers. As I watched the young parents guide them towards this character, I began to relax. When the littlest one kissed Donald Duck, I captured the most precious picture. I remember being a young mother taking my children to a character dinner as well. I remember the excitement and joy of my family- including Logan. This memory as well as the present made me smile.

It is a mixed bag of emotions that swirl together to make life. Every day we can make a choice to avoid the uncomfortable. When we choose to do this, we also choose to avoid the joy in life.
I am glad that I faced the emotional memories because I want to remember Logan. I want to remember and never forget... continuing to honor Logan by choosing joy.



Disney world and Emotions

My friends invited me on a trip, which includes a visit to Disney world. This adults only trip has been a fun adventure.  

For the past two days I have been flooded with memories of the visit I made with my three children. I remember my daughters Tinkerbell earrings and Minnie Mouse hat. I remember Logan’s love for Goofy and the Tower of Terror. 

Tonight we had dinner at a restaurant which included character visits to our table. When I saw Goofy, i was surprised by my anxious emotions. I wanted to turn my head and say “no thank you.” Instead, I choked back the tears and forced a smile. No one wants to cry at Disney world! It is supposed to be the happier place on earth. 

Because I am with others, I needed to quietly sit and wait until I could make my escape... escaping from the uncomfortable memories. 

Then Donald Duck came to visit the next table with two excited preschoolers. As I watched the young parents guide them towards this character, I began to relax. When the littlest one kissed Donald Duck, I captured the most precious picture. I remember being a young mother taking my children to a character dinner as well. I remember the excitement and joy of my family- including Logan. This memory as well as the present made me smile. 

It is a mixed bag of emotions that swirl together to make life. Every day we can make a choice to avoid the uncomfortable. When we choose to do this, we also choose to avoid the joy in life. 

I am glad that I faced the emotional memories because I want to remember Logan. I want to remember and never forget...continueing to honor Logan by choosing joy. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tips for Surviving Christmas

It is the holiday season.... as we all know. We can try to "skip Christmas" - I have tried this myself but I have been unsuccessful.  In my opinion, what is more effective is to create a plan for how to cope with this extra vulnerable time of the year. The fact that your child will not be here during the holidays is often the big elephant in the room that few will acknowledge. 

Conserve your energy - especially during this time of year. Although you will be tired, purposefully select what events are the most important to you... Or attend nothing. Do not be disappointed in yourself if you feel that you "cannot” do what you have done in the past. Every year will be different. Be kind to yourself. 

Purchase a kit from the craft store to make SOMETHING for your living children. Maybe an ornament.... Focus your mental and physical energy on the people who you love who are still living. It will show them that you love THEM too.... Our living children are suffering as well.

Purchase a small Christmas tree and spend time searching for the "perfect" ornaments in memory of your child. I used Logan's hat as the tree topper and filled this tree with a colts ornament, a wrigley field ornament, football ornaments, etc. It gave me purpose and something to DO for Logan (his memory) while Christmas shopping. The small tree was a table top tree that I kept in his room. I actually kept this tree up for several months. 

When I did this, it surprised me when my teenager daughter also requested a tree in her room.  I bought a white tree and filled it with ornaments to match her room. It is common for children to feel somewhat jealous of their deceased sibling. This time of the year, they become more acutely aware of the change in their family as well. Do not be "fake" happy but instead, acknowledge the feelings together. You are teaching your children how to grieve... Regardless of their age.

Acknowledge that the holidays will forever be changed.... So change your traditions. If you always opened up presents on Christmas Eve, then consider doing it at a different time. Try to take whatever big traditions your family has and shake it up.

Everyone is going to try to "make you happy". Be prepared with your words as you teach them to grieve. They will not understand your expectations or feelings unless you tell them... Or unless they are thrown into this situation - and we would not wish this on anyone. Ever! When they ask how you are, do not always feel the need to say "fine." It's acceptable to say, "I am trying hard but this is tiring." Or "I am sick of hearing Christmas music."

The first Christmas, I created a plan to carve out time for our family to remember Logan. I bought a large decorative platter and filled it with about 20 assorted sizes of white candles. One night prior to Christmas, we all met as a family around the coffee table and took turns lighting a candle. Each person told a story about Logan... Funny and stupid and serious stories.  Sure, we all cried, but we also LAUGHED.  Most importantly, the pressure release of the tension felt good and was definitely healthy.  

Do something special quietly in memory of your child. The money that you spent at Christmas on your child, use it to donate $$ for charities (such as when the clerk says "would you like to donate a dollar to help support the homeless mission?" I usually will say yes.... "In memory of Logan" ). Or.... You could adopt a family for Christmas.

I tried to open my eyes and realize that Christmas and Thanksgiving is actually a SAD holiday for many people.  Pause and notice that a LOT of people are in a funk and also sad. What can you do to help them? Giving to others, even with kind words, will help you feel better. In reality, people are often  feeling inadequate as they struggle to purchase presents for their children, they may be missing a member of their family too, they may need employment, or they may just feel inadequate and sad as they compare their holidays to the expectations that society holds up for holidays.

Most importantly, I focused on the REASON for the season. Heaven is a REAL place. It is where Jesus actually LIVES.... With our children too. I think of the wonderful gift of the Christ child and how he was sent here so all of us can have eternal life in Heaven. This is not a new thought or concept. We KNOW that the reason for Christmas. Now that my child is there, I feel deep appreciation and value of this gift like I had never felt previously.





Thursday, November 29, 2018

One holiday down and one to go...

Early this morning, i was thinking of a dear friend who i rarely have the opportunity to see. She has been a member of the mama club for many years and has been very impactful in my own healing with her experience and advice.  Ironically, it made me smile when our paths crossed later in the day.  Then i ran into another sweet friend which reminded me that I needed to share a few of the Holiday posts which I have written. 

A few years I wrote this article. As I looked at some of my previous notes, I found the following email that I wrote a few years ago. It is hits the spot for myself as well. 

Last year-- the day before Thanksgiving, I wrote this and put it on Facebook.

"The holidays are a big magnifying glass. When you have a "perfect" feeling family, it feels joyous. When you have that crazy aunt or uncle that annoys everyone, this crazy feeling is magnified. When there is a death in the family and that loss is there, that loss is magnified. When there are unmet expectations in life, such as divorce and loneliness, the feelings associated with that event is magnified. Holidays magnify the best in us, such as our charitable side. Holidays also bring out the worst in us, such as when we see life's disappointments.

Humans disappoint us because they are human. Sadly, when life has dealt trauma and drama and permanent separation of normalcy as well as grief, the holidays have a flavor of sorrow.... Reflect on what this holiday magnifying glass shows you personally this year. Blessings!"

That was a few years ago. The following note was a few years down the road. 

My first Thanksgiving and Christmas without Logan are still so painfully memorable... for someone who was in a fog. Those that know me well know that I grieve many different things during the holidays. The loss of your child is the "Primary Loss." It is the "Secondary Losses" that I grieve now.

In speaking with many of you recently, I have noticed that many are feeling "anger" right now. Like I have said before, NONE of this is "Normal" but all of what we are feeling is "Natural." I think that it is "natural" to feel anger when there is the empty chair at the holiday dinner table and no one will mention our child that is absent. I think that it is common for the BIG invisible elephant in the room to be in the room.

Often people are fearful of mentioning the absence and loss of our child (every day but especially on a holiday). This makes many of us angry at times! Why wouldn't it make us angry?

But... when looking at their side, they don't KNOW what to do or how to support us. If this is your first holiday season without your child, you will probably notice people whispering in the background - "How is she doing?" If this is NOT your first holiday, everyone is still wondering how to respond. Before my Logan died, I had no idea how to support people who were enduring the very long process of grief. I THOUGHT that I did, but I failed miserably. When people ask "How are you doing?" Answer them honestly... "Today is hard for me. Thank you for asking."

Know that this is a time of MUCH emotion and that we are oversensitive to people's actions and words right now. Protect yourself by taking care of YOU and your family. But mamas, YOU are the backbone of the family and you must MAKE yourself relax. Carve out time to have a long bubble bath. Maybe go have a massage or a pedicure. Lay down and take a nap. You don't HAVE to make dozens of cookies.... cut down on the "celebration" part if you need to.

BREATHE.... relax those shoulders down...

One of my friends who lost a child several years ago - him and his wife went to the movies on Christmas. "Some things you cannot do again." It was too painful to "go thru the motions" for them... but now that there are grandchildren, they are trying Christmas again.

So to wrap this up...

- You are oversensitive

- You may feel anger... try to not let it get so big that you BLOW up.  Anger is a much more comfortable emotion than sorrow. 

- Protect yourself

- People do not know what to do to help, so TELL them

One more thing... During the holidays it is especially important to "count" your alcoholic beverages. In the past you may have been able to handle a few alcoholic beverages, but now you are in danger.  Count to one and (at the very most) two on special occasions. Cut yourself off. Be aware that this is a pitfall that you do NOT want to fall into. Statistically, one year after the death of a child, 40% of parents have a drug or drinking problem. (Compassionate Friends data obtained from the book *Surviving the Loss of a Child*)

As always, I am open to hearing your thoughts, suggestions, and writings. If you have something that you would like to share with this growing group of mamas, please email it to me! You made it through Thanksgiving... One down and one to go. You can DO IT! Keep putting those feet on the floor... it will get better. :). I'll end with a positive note... THIS is what I try to focus on during the holidays. I focus on the incredible gift the birth of Christ was for us... and now that I have a child in Heaven, it means even more to me. This gift was sent to us so we will be able to have an eternity with our children one day (as a reunited family).

Sending prayers of comfort and hugs to each of you. 

Pamela Parker

Holeheartedmamas@gmail.com



Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

This week I have reflected on my most memorable thanksgiving. My children and husband had made the journey to Tennessee to see my (now ex) husbands family. Prior to the meal, I went to Logan’s gravesite. It was the first thanksgiving that I would spend without him. As i approached his gravesite, I fell on my knees sobbing. It was now almost four months after his death and I could not reconcile the fact that he had died. I sobbed and sobbed with my entire body as I kneeled on a large towel that I had brought in anticipation for this visit. It was a cold drizzly day and it felt that way in my entire world. Everything was gray. I did not like this place, emotionally or physically, but it is where I had been placed. I believed that this was my life’s destiny- gray. 

That day, everyone tried to make me smile and appreciate the present, but i could not find even one morsel of joy. I felt as though I would never find joy again. 


Today, is Thanksgiving 2018. I will only have one of three of my children with me. I do not have a significant other. My knees are hurting after a long and busy two weeks at work. I have mounds of leaves outside of my house and chores not completed. Life is certainly not perfect.

This is the first year that I have been eagerly anticipating thanksgiving. Today will be casual with my parents, my daughter and son in law with their child, and a few close friends. The people I love will be with me.

So today I am so very thankful that even though there are various health issues and sorrows for most of the people who will be with me today, I can celebrate that we are together. There might never be another day like today and I intimately know how quickly life can change. Today the sun is shining through the windows of my warm home and life is filled with peace. I can look back at the past and be thankful of the present- of where I am in life. Today I can reflect on Thanksgivings past and feel deep gratitude. Everyone has a different path out of the gray and dark world of grief. There truly is hope for grieving people- and I am celebrating this today. 


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Grief pioneer

Because I am a mother, a nurse, and a human being-- I want to comfort those who are uncomfortable. This is my personal nature, which it true with many people. We want to fix the broken. We want to dry tears. We want to make people happy.  

I have an adult friend who has taught me so much about grief by sharing her own childhood experience. When she was six years old, she came home from school and there were a lot of people in her house with gifts of toys and candy. She found it to be very odd. Then her father brought her into the other room and told her that her mother had died. Pause for a moment and ponder over this question-- did the toys and candy make her feel better?

In my own life, I have experienced watching several different children who are learning that a loved one has died. Remember that children think and process ideas in their minds differently, depending on their developmental age. Recently, I observed adults trying to comfort a newly grieving child with a piece of cake. This was not necessarily a bad thing because we want to comfort others. We do not want them to cry or to be sad. (Side note-- How many of us use food for comfort when we are sad?) 

Anyway-- I introduced myself to the little girl and said -- "tell me what is happening today." The little girl sobbed as she spoke. I simply ssid,  "cry. It is ok. It will make you feel better. I will stay right here with you and keep you safe.  This is a safe place to relax and cry.”  The little girl continued to sob. I quietly asked "would you like a hug?" She nodded and jumped into my lap, holding me tight. I told her that I was also a "nana" and i would hold her for as long as she wanted me to hold her. We were very quiet for a long time. She needed this time to sob. Eventually the crying stopped and I asked "are you scared?" She nodded yes. I said "it is ok to be scared. I promise that I am going to keep you safe. Can you tell me what makes you scared?"  

As this dialogue continued the little girl allowed me to understand that she was confused and did not understand the situation. She told me what she had observed. Side note-- Remember that little ones do not really understand death and often have elements of "magical thinking."  

This immediate situation was eventually resolved. Crying DOES help. Tears are our friend. It is very important to use simple words but to also be honest. 

Personally-- I remember being surprised and shocked when I was I tossed into this frightening foreign world of grievers. The foundation of my world had been shattered. I wanted to be swallowed up by the earth because I was so very very afraid. I am thankful for all that I have learned through my own personal journey. I detest delivering bad news, but I am thankful that I am continuing to learn how to make this experience less horrific. 

Today I am most thankful for the insight that I have learned from the six year old who is now an adult-- The little girl who received toys and candy along with horrible life altering news. The little girl who did not feel safe and comforted. The little girl who was a grief pioneer and whose sacrifice has taught me so much.