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, December 14, 2012

Empathy versus Sympathy

December 14, 2012 -- Empathy Versus Sympathy
In the past few days we have heard about shootings of innocent grownups and children. What a waste of precious life. We DEEPLY understand this now....
After our child dies, we become even more sensitive to other tragedies. At least that's what I've encountered. Please do not get me wrong... I've always been sensitive to suffering but now I can empathize. Empathize. Hmmm. How is that different from sympathizing?
I found this on a website...
Sympathy and empathy are separate terms with some very important distinctions. Sympathy and empathy are both acts of feeling, but with sympathy you feel for the person; you’re sorry FOR them or pity them, but you don’t specifically understand what they’re feeling. Sometimes we’re left with little choice but to feel sympathetic because we really can’t understand the plight or predicament of someone else. It takes imagination, work, or possibly a similar experience to get to empathy.
Empathy can best be described as feeling WITH the person. Notice the distinction between for and with. To an extent you are placing yourself in that person’s place, have a good sense of what they feel, and understand their feelings to a degree. It may be impossible to be fully empathetic because each individual's reactions, thoughts and feelings to tragedy are going to be unique. Yet the idea of empathy implies a much more active process. Instead of feeling sorry for, you’re sorry with and have clothed yourself in the mantle of someone else’s emotional reactions.
After such a horrific change in our life like the severe grief of losing a child, I began to feel really empathetic. Every time I heard of a child who had died, it hurt ME TOO to know the devastation that is being felt. I stopped watching the news. After a while, the protective mechanism of shutting out the world isn't entirely healthy BUT listening to the news and soaking in every horrible detail of tragedy isn't either. There must eventually be a balance...
As many of you know, I had a series of horrible events that occurred after Logan died. I turned off the news. I just ceased listening to anything. My parents made fun of me when they asked- "did you that know Michael Jackson died?" Well, yea.... I heard about big stuff but not the details. In the fall of 2011, I went to see my son in Tennessee and I listened to the radio on the way. When I arrived, I asked him, "so tell me about this Penn State thing." His mouth flew open and said "Mom! Do you live in a cave?! This isn't about football!!" It was at that point that I desired to maybe step back into the world and participate in life again. It was a truly pivotal time in my life! I was finally at a place where I was able to understand that it's THEIR bad day. Please remember that it took me over four years to get to THAT place where I was able to understand that I didn't NEED to grieve with every single bad story.
I now see that as a "mama" who has lost a child, it is different when there is a loss in our community. When Logan died suddenly, I looked for any person who had experienced the loss of a child and I sought advice and comforting from those people. I wanted someone to give me HOPE! The only advice that I TRULY can give is that "Where you are now, you will not always be." If anyone knows someone enduring the tragedy of a child (of any age!!), please let me know. I have put together resources to help these "new mamas" and I will be glad to forward them to you to help guide these parents.
Know that with the Christmas season and winter approaching, it is important to protect ourselves. Try to not listen to every tragedy in the news as often. It may help your outlook. This is the first Christmas for MANY of you without your child. This will be one of your most memorable Christmases for your family. Please email me if you desire to receive the "How to get through the holidays" email with concrete tips.
Girls..... Not one of us has asked for this type of understanding of life-- This type of awareness that I NOW can consider truly sacred. Now, stop and reflect for a moment. Not all that happens during times of grief are bad. I can tell you from personal experience, my core values are now really truly in order. In my world, true happiness can NOT be purchased by money. People matter.... things do not. My living children have heard me say this many times. Also... the most surprising people have jumped into my life to bless me. It may be too early for many of you... that's OK! GRIEF IS A PROCESS! NOT AN EVENT! It took me YEARS to come to this point!
So to summarize...
  • You now feel EMPATHY when there is a tragedy and loss.
  • Try to not absorb yourself in the tragies in the news.
  • Grief is a PROCESS, Not an EVENT!
Hugs to each of you!! As always, I enjoy feedback!! :)
Pamela

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The End of November

November 29, 2012 The End of November

So I have had a lot of thoughts, as always... this is what is most recently
on my mind.

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, that is magnified.
Holidays magnify the best in us, such as our charitable side. Holidays
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. Very thankful for the ability to see my
one child this week as well as my parents. Thankful for the breath of new
life with Audrey and Elly. I will miss Callie this thanksgiving and will
permanently miss Logan. I'm thankful for friends who are supportive and
smile and laugh and cry with me. Reflect on what this holiday magnifying
glass shows you personally this year. Blessings!"

My first Thanksgiving and Christmas without Logan are 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
be maybe feel anger when there is the empty chair at the holiday dinner
table and no one will mention our child that isn't here. 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? Personally, I have spent the past
week angry at certain people because they just don't understand
and I do not feel their support. In fact, the ugly Pamela showed herself
one night and that is something that I am NOT proud of...

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 in 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
- 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 girlies. Count to one. Two
on special occasions. 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 hearing your thoughts, suggestions, and writings. If
you have something that you would like to share with this growing group of
mamas, then 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 door... 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 reuinited family.)

O Holy Night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!



Pamela Parker

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Surprise...


November 25, 2012-- Surprise...

So Thursday a wonderful thing happened to my family. My first official
grandchild was born in Bristol Tennessee. My son and daughter in law
invited me and Audrey's mom into the delivery room. It was a great
time of celebration with my son. I cried tears of joy but mostly
because my son had embraced my presence. After all of these tears of
joy and elation, Laurie and I went back to my sons home. I started to
crawl in bed and noticed a beautiful picture of Wesley and my son
Logan when Wes was ten and Logan was six. Wes had his arms around him
in the picture. Immediately I felt my breath knocked out of me when I
saw this photo. This came out of the blue...

After five years, I know my pitfalls of when I'm going to feel great
emotion and sorrow. What I'm discovering is that the greatest emotion
comes when surprised and caught off guard. One grieving parent that
is a few years ahead of me has said- EVERYONE misses him on his
birthday and the holidays and the anniversary. I miss him EVERYDAY. In
fact, this person is a little resentful that the others carve time out
of these days to remember him then. He's worthy of being remembered
every day.

I understand this perspective but on Thursday when I saw that photo, I
grieved something I had not yet grieved. I grieved the fact that Logan
wouldn't be an active uncle. He loved children and would have been an
excellent uncle - as excited as any member of our family that Elly has
expanded our family in a new way.

The lesson from this is whenever we have something NEW to grieve it
will be a NEW grief. Fresh. Is this bad?! No! Not at all. It FELT
bad at the time. I was embarrassed and concerned that the other new
grandma would hear me upstairs. Even if I could have stopped the
tears, I'm glad I had them. I RECOGNIZED that Logan was tremendously
missed.... On that very day of Ellyanna Grace's birth. I'm finally
reconciled to missing him every day. I am NOT reconciled to this new
loss of Logan's absence as an uncle.

The difference in this grief now is that it didn't ruin the joy that
is around me.

The day was STILL incredible and filled with unwavering joy as I
watched my son Wesley become a daddy and my daughter in law Audrey
become a mommy. As I watched them become a FAMILY.

Hugs to all of my mama friends....
Pamela Parker

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Welcome to the Holiday Season... Do not be afraid

November 11, 2012-- Welcome to the Holiday Season.... Do not be afraid
It's holiday season.... as we all know. We can try to "skip Christmas" - I have tried this myself but unsuccessfully. In my opinion, what is more effective is trying to sit down and make a plan and figure out how to cope with this extra vulnerable time of the year.
I spent a little time a few weeks ago writing down suggestions on what has personally helped me in the past. As I have mentioned to many new mamas who joined this club that we didn't ask to join.... Lots of people give you suggestions. Some will work for you and others will not. After you read this, I would really like to hear feedback on what you are doing or what has worked for you in the past. Helping each other walk through this time in our lives, and the holidays.... That's what this mamas group is all about.
Hugs to each one of you.
Pamela
  • Remember that you really must conserve your energy during this time of year. Although you will be tired, select what events that you want to attend. Or attend nothing. Don't be disappointed in yourself because you maybe just "can't" do what you've done in the past.

  • Go to the craft store and get a kit to make SOMETHING for your living children. Maybe an ornament.... Focus your mental and physical energy on the people that you love that 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 it with a colts ornament, a wrigley field ornament, football ornaments, etc. It gave me purpose and something to DO 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.

  • Then, my daughter requested a tree in her room too. She felt left out. So I bought a white tree and filled it with ornaments to match her room. Children become 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 wouldn't wish that on anyone. Ever! When they ask how you are, do not always feel the need to say "fine." It's acceptable to say, "I'm trying hard but its tiring." Or "I'm getting sick of hearing Christmas music."

  • So the fact that your child will not be there during the holidays is going to be the big elephant in the room that few will talk about. It helped my family on the first year to actually just acknowledge it by carving out time to recognize Logan. I bought a large decorative platter and filled it with tons of white candles of all sizes. 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. I had about 20 candles. Tea lights and bigger candles. Sure, we all cried! BUT that pressure release was good! It decreased the tension that we were all feeling.

  • 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 "wanna donate a dollar to homeless people?" I say yes.... "In memory of Logan" ). Or.... You can adopt a family at Christmas.

  • I tried to open my eyes and realize that Christmas and Thanksgiving is actually a SAD holiday for many people. I think it may be more sad for more people than it is happy... Look around and see that a LOT of people are in a funk and sad. What can you do to help them? Giving to others, even with kind words, will help you feel better. People are 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 isn't a new thought or concept. We KNOW that's 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.
As I stated before, I look forward to hearing your suggestions to pass along. You WILL make it through December... Keep putting your feet on the floor.
Pamela

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Good self care & Ways to stay in charge

November 3, 2012 - Good Self Care-- Ways to stay in charge!

During our  next meeting, we will discuss tips on making it through the holidays. Feel free to think in advance of any helpful coping mechanism that has worked for you in the past. I plan to have printed materials that you can take home.
I have been rocking through writing this research paper on Creating Supportive Mechanisms for Grieving Mothers. I will be honest, this week has been rough. I found myself short tempered with nearly everyone and with situations at work. I have been pretty much crazy with anxiety and frustration! After a big ole melt down on Tuesday night, I realized..... tomorrow is Halloween. Regardless of your thoughts on Halloween as a whole, it is important to acknowledge that it serves as a reminder that families DO get together. It is a reminder that the "BIG" holidays are approaching. It is a reminder to all of us that our family has forever changed with the loss of our child.
Now what was the REAL reason that I was uber emotional?! I was not practicing good self care! So WHAT is good self care?! Lets talk about this for a moment... For me it is taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Physically, we ALL MUST stretch those sore and tired muscles and exercise. Exercise is important because it helps our brain to function and gives us an energy boost! I am the FIRST to say.... I think I'll just stay on the couch. I have found that when I stay on the couch and my activity level is low, I become more tired and nonmotivated. So stretch and exercise and move your body! Emotionally we must care for ourselves as well. I am eyeball deep in this emotionally charged topic and I wasn't taking my OWN break from grief. You say.... how do you take a break from grief?!?! Well, one thing that helps me personally is to watch Standup comedians. I need to laugh. Many of you will say "Nah! I don't feel like laughing." I do understand this feeling-- and the laughter that you would have felt BEFORE your child died may not be the same laughter. We MUST try to recognize pitfalls before we FALL into them. Ask a close friend to nudge you when you look frazzled and say "Hey... Hows the sleep going? Taken a break from grief lately?" Spiritually we must care of ourselves as well. We are all spiritual beings with a variety of faith backgrounds. What works for me is quiet prayer time and carving out the time to go to worship. Everyone has different ways to feed our spiritual needs.
We are like pressure cookers ready to explode when we do not take care of ourselves. Make certain to take time out for YOU and practice GOOD Self Care!
I found this interesting information that I thought that I would share... It was found in a book Surviving the Loss of a Child by Elizabeth Brown.
Ways to Stay in Charge of Your Own Life
  • Accept the reality of change
  • Do what works for you, on your own timetable.
  • Keep up old routines until you establish new ones
  • Avoid hasty decisions as you cope with change and plan your future. A healthy rule: Make no major, life changing decisions for at least one year.
  • Appreciate your emotions. Equate strength with surviving, not with having emotions under control
  • Recognize you are fragile, forgiving yourself and others for not being strong enough to hold life together with joy in the midst of the chaos of grief.
  • Respect the way others grieve
  • Forgive
  • Use guilt as a learning tool
  • Grieve, but do not allow yourself to wallow in negative emotions: guild, anger, hurt, and yearning
  • Focus on your family's emotional health.
  • Fight lonliness. Be involved. Give and do.
  • Be good to yourself. Do what works for you
  • Use exercise, music, journaling, reading, travel, projects, etc.
  • Take care of legal and medical issues
  • Address faith issues
  • Write down something positive each day.
Hugs to each of you dear mamas! I look forward to seeing any of you that can make the meeting on Monday Night! Pop me an email and let me know so I'll have an idea...
Pamela Parker

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Getting organized and updating all of you

October 14, 2012 - Getting Organized and Updating all of you
Today is the first day that I am TRYING to be organized!!!! I have a gazillion things running around in this little brain of mine now and I become overwhelmed because I often do not feel like I am doing any of them WELL!
We have a lot of Mamas in our world that NEED support. Let's face it... We ALL need support because the regular world doesn't have a clue about what to DO WITH US after our child died. We are one great big giant puzzle to them. They send us casseroles and try to support us in the ways that they know how to support us... but losing your child makes US not know what to do with OURSELVES even.
That is where this new email address has grown from. See... we are growing and I also have teflon brain and need help with organization and support. That is where this new email address is going to help! Some of you are EXCELLENT writers (far better than me!) and I am willing to say "Y'all come help this sister out!" By creating this email there are a few people that can help make certain that I put new people on the email list and also keep up with the previous emails (newsletters etc). My goal is to have a newsletter email sent out weekly.
This is daunting to me because I am eyeball deep into completing this BSN project in the next two weeks. As part of this, I am going to ask for some of your help. My project is on Creating Supportive Mechanisms for Grieving Mothers. I think that you can see where YOU fall into this picture.... I will be looking for support and answers and prayers as I finish this gigantic project. More to come on this later.
So I want you to know that Hope For Grieving Mothers email is holeheartedmamas@gmail.com We all have holes in our heart but you WILL learn to live with the hole and it will eventually become more like a comfortable pair of old shoes.
As quick little note from the book Grieving Forward:
So much is distilled in our tears, not the least of which is wisdom in living life. From my own tears, I have found, when you follow your tears, you find your heart. --Ken Gire
"I learned a valuable lesson: tears have a vital purpose - to release what our hearts cannot hold. No matter where you are in your grieving process, tears will come again and again. When they do, remember that tears are your friends-- and God's soothing ointment for your soul. Let your tears flow, for they are the silent voice of your heart."
Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. Psalms 126:5 nkjv
Hugs to each of you, my sweet mama friends!!! I look forward to hearing from each of you.
Pamela Parker

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Objectives for this mamas group

September 12, 1012  Objectives for this Mamas Group

It's been quite the week and it's not the weekend yet. But we are
slowly approaching it!

I'm working on trying to find consistency in our meeting place. There are options in our future!!

Now, girlies... I want to let you know that by putting your tootsies
on the floor, you are trying! Consistency and routines give us
control in the beginning. Control gives us comfort.

We are all at different places in the continuum. It's a timeline. I
hope that you can see that light returns in the darkness. I FINALLY
feel light.... Most days.

These are the current objectives that I see for our mamas group.

**Provide written and verbal support when requested to parents who
lose a child.

**Educate each other and the public on how to get through the darkness
and the fog.

**Throw sparks of light and hope to those that follow us (new mamas)

**Show them our pitfalls so they can avoid them.

**Be honest about our feelings and support each other as we need it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Response to previous message

September 4, 2012 - Response to Previous Message

Hello Ladies,
I'm new to your mama emails and I wanted to introduce myself. You see, I am the sweet mother that Pamela refers to in her email. And not only did I catch her off guard, but I also caught myself off guard. I didn't realize how raw my grief really was.

In 2001, I gave birth to a baby boy, whom we named Noah. I had a normal pregnancy and we were shocked to hear that he was being transferred to Riley the morning after I had him. Noah lived for 9 months with an undiagnosed neuromuscular disorder. He had round the clock nurses at our home, was sustained by a feeding tube and was ventilator dependent from the day after he was born. He was beautiful up until the very end. He had big brown eyes that he got from me! He passed away very peacefully at
the hospital, surrounded by family. My husband and I laid next to him until he went Home.
We decided to try again. Surely God wouldn't do this to us twice, right? In 2004, we had a daughter, Elizabeth ("Ellie"). But once again, she was transferred to Riley for the same conerns. But Ellie didn't seem to be affected as severly as her big brother. She could breathe on her own, and this alone, was uplifting! Maybe she could overcome this disorder...
As time went on, she weakened, until the day came that she aspirated and had to be taken to the hospital. She was put on the ventilator and was never able to be weaned off of it. Probably eventually she would have had to go on it. I guess the aspiration was God's way of making the decision for us. We had no choice. For 2 long weeks, she lay in the hospital, full of her energy and spunk (she was spunky!) She was herself, just attached to a breathing device. So you can imagine the decision that we now faced. Take her home and watch her deteriorate like Noah did or let her peacefully pass on to be with him, eternally in Heaven, finally united as brother and sister!! We chose the latter. The single-most, hardest thing we have ever endured. It's one thing when you're making this decision for a family member who has lived a full life, but this was a whole other ball game. This was our baby girl, who otherwise was fine for the moment. And only 4 months old.
The next part of this story haunts me to this day. I chose to not be in the room while Ellie passed. My husband was there of course, holding her, singing to her, praying for her. But I chosed to stay away because I just couldn't handle watching another one of my children slip out of my arms. The moment she had gone to be with the Lord and her brother, they came and got me and I held her. I just couldn't believe it. And really still can't as I write this tonight. Today I blame myself for making such a selfish decision to not be present. Did she know I wasn't there? Did she need her mama? This is what keeps me up at night and will sideline me in an instant. This is what I need to forgive myself for.
So here comes the anger part. WHY?? WHY?? WHY?? We all scream that, right??? It's just not right. It's JUST. NOT. RIGHT. It's JUST. NOT. FAIR.
I have A LOT of healing yet to do. Pamela has been a huge support to me. We were connected by death. By the death of our children, as we all are connected now. Wow. What a crazy way to be connected. IT SUCKS. But, there's a beautiful side to this story, my story...
Pamela and I are now connected by LIFE. By a little boy named Christopher Clyde, my son, who has big brown eyes like mine! God had a plan. Had I not gone through what I did, I wouldn't know her to the extent that I do now, nor would I have this beautiful boy in my life.
Beautiful things will come to all of you again. We just have to learn to recognize the many forms those beautiful things come in.
Hugs to all of you.

Lessons after Labor Day

September 4, 2012 -- Lessons After Labor Day
Well ladybugs...
We have all made it through another holiday! See.... Not so bad... Maybe?! Mark another one off the list. Take A deep breath and try to SMILE!
It's been another really bizarre weekend for me. I've learned soon much in the past few weeks. I have always believed that TIME does NOT make this grief better.... It is what you do with that time... The grief WORK!
I very very painfully observed this when I was recently caught off guard by a sweet mother who had never really spent any time talking about her loss from several years ago. It touched my heart deeply and filled me with sorrow. You REALLY MUST try to grieve forward in order to grieve FORWARD. There is grace to be found in grieving... Much fear in doing so, but definitely there is healing. With that being said, I'm proud of each any every one of you for stepping those little tootsies on the floor and reaching out to each other as well as our loving God and saying "whatttt do I dooooo?!". And telling the world--- "help me y'all!". OK... maybe you don't scream it or say those words, but letting people know what you need (or just each other) is on the right track.
Another big lesson that I knew but didn't pay attention to (imagine that! ME not listening!) is that we MUST take a break from grief when we can and bring lightness and laughter when we can. It won't be the SAME kind of laughter as in the past, but we MUST watch a dumb silly movie or divert our brain as much as we can towards laughter or humor. If not, the heaviness can SUCK OUR SPIRITS and make us feel even more nutso. I've spent so much time at funerals, at camp, writing, and looking at my secondary losses (that's another topic for another day) that I got sucked into a little bit of a funk this weekend.... That's not good for ME or ANYONE... lesson relearned. So take that BREAK!!
Now for one of my favorite verses... "The Lord will give strength unto his people. The Lord will bless His people with peace." Psalms 29:11
Pamela Parker

Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day weekend and doubts all over the place

August 31, 2012--  Labor Day Weekend and Doubts all over the place
Today I was at work and I was pondering over whether to send this or not and one of the mamas said she was in a funk... THEN I remembered that it is a HOLIDAY weekend. I HATE holidays! Holidays remind us distinctly what has changed irrepairably in our lives... I really like to spread pieces of sunshine but I also like to be real... ACTUALLY, I ONLY KNOW how to be REAL! So here it is.... It isn't totally sad, but I think it is real. What do ya'll think? Feedback is always appreciated... :)) You girls are much chattier in person... Just saying...

Tricia wrote me the following words recently. With her permission, I am sharing portions with all of you....

"I am still such a work in progress always wondering what GOD has in store for me... the next good bad or what terrifying thing will be coming my way. I try not to ask why, but the last week or so have been filled with "why" questions. Why are babies ripped from their mothers arms... why do dads have to pretend not to cry... and why do siblings have to learn at such a young age to understand death, when we as momma's can't understand it. I feel GOD tugging at me to do something... but what I don't know. It's not like I can fight Satan off or even understand myself. I just spoke to my cousin tonight and he told me of a employee of his who has a baby in the hospital right now as i am typing this that isnt expected to make through the night. My heart just aches for those parents.... Not sure really why I am ranting other then every week we hear of another mother we could add to our group. The numbers are staggering-- so many in pain. I hope we can help them to know they WILL survive but by GOD it will be the hardest thing they will ever have to do!!! I pray for all the momma's daily and for you and I but especially you... that the words will come. That we can all be an example of survival and demonstrate that life does go on after losing a child... To have a meaningful happy life"

Doubt and insecurity clouds all of our minds. Fear of tomorrow and of the NEXT bad thing happening. We hovering over our children and others and worry worry worry. Frustration often fills our thoughts...

Losing our babies is NOT NORMAL but these reactions ARE natural during this horrible crappy process called grief!!! BLAHHHHHHH. It makes me rip out my ugly word vocabulary!!

This TOO shall pass eventually.... It is a SEASON in our life. An important season with MUCH to learn.

I may sound happy and chipper-- and I AM most of the time now-- but I'm not going to lie, I have my moments of deep reflection. It's different now because I know that I'm not going to be "down" as long... Or go as "deep" as before in sorrow. See--- sorrow doesn't scare me at all! It isn't part of my daily life at all now. Slowly the daily sorrow WILL lift!! Slowly. With your grief work....

I thank Tricia for her daily prayers as all of you do! My words aren't special! I just say what I think and have experienced (both as a previous hospice nurse and as a mother who was thrown into the depths of grief unexpectedly)... Right or wrong. Correct me when I'm wrong, girlie girls!!

I've actually struggled with starting this mamas group. I've struggled with even writing to mamas. WHAT do I have to say of VALUE?! I read and reread the words that I write. I just want to be REAL! I'm not a sugar coater of anything in life... But it's my desire to show others little sparks of light in the darkness. Also... To let them know the pitfalls so they can avoid them. God knows that my family has hit most of those stinking pitfalls!! I NEVER want to misdirect anyone and as a disclaimer I state... This ain't counseling and I ain't no counselor! :). Seriously.... The purpose of this group is to SUPPORT each OTHER. To lead and guide new mamas as they are walking scared, frightened, and feeling alone.... Counseling is an important part of your healing. It was an important part of MINE!
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On a very serious note...
Thinking of Nora and her family tomorrow during Nathan's burial... Hugs to you dear friend as you have waited a long long 105 days for this to happen. I'll be there my friend... I wonder what is most appropriate, the rain or the sunshine? Hmmmm
Hang in there ladybugs! Put those feet on the floor this weekend but also allow some time to rest of your body as well. Don't be afraid of those memories of the past. Wrap yourself up in them...

I'm always here.... (hey! I don't have a social life! Really I don't... The sad pitiful truth!! Text any time).

Pamela

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Looking back at ourselves and writing

August 28, 2012  Looking back ourselves and writing advice for others

This has been an interesting week with a LOT of reflection personally for myself. Last weekend I was a nurse at Camp Healing Tree and had a BLAST! Truly, it was so much fun to laugh and play with the kids. I also carved out quiet time for reading and prayer. I reflected sooo much!! Mostly reflected Friday before camp and Sunday after camp... I played most of the weekend.

Monday I found out that a friend of a friend in Dallas lost her child to cancer. I was asked to send the notes that Tricia and I have written on how to survive your child's funeral-- to help other families.

Today- Wednesday- I found out that a teenage friend of the Fulkersons died last night.

All of these children's deaths--- what a strange world that has been revealed to us all! ...where children die and the children left are exposed to extraordinary grief at an entirely young age... Where our babies were ripped from us and we stop being who we were... Where families that were once intact struggle to super glue the pieces back together.... Where people feel hollow and lost in this dark foreign land where they don't speak the language.... Where our faith is questioned and strengthened and everything that is important in this world is back to the basics.... Where we lay in bed at night and wonder - is this a nightmare?!

At least that's how I felt for a LONG time.... I still do at times. I've said for years that if there is a DNA changing event or a fingerprint changing event, it is what happens when your child dies. Girlies... My Logan's death shook me to my core. I didn't sleep for nine months and people couldn't look at me because they couldn't stand the sorrow on this normally perky face.

It took a LONG TIME and a LONG journey and LOTS of grief work to arrive at this comfortable content place that I live in now (MOST of the time). Everyone has a DIFFERENT way out... The only promise that I can make to each of you is... Where you are now, you will not always be.

One BIG part of my own personal journey was helping others. I have started a fund at the Hendricks Community Foundation. The Logan's Legacy Fund. In the beginning, helping disadvantaged children gave me such great pleasure. It still does. NOW I don't NEED that specifically. Someone else is actually managing the inner workings of it now - I'm TOO BUSY at the present! Tee hee hee!! Anyway, the point that I'm trying to make is that reaching beyond our grief to help others gave ME IMMENSE pleasure. It STILL DOES...

So this is important girlies.... In your mind, go back to that HORRIBLE day of the funeral or visitation and remember. What did you NOT have that would have been helpful? Look at the following document. This is something I would like to share with NEW MAMAS when asked... Only when asked. To help them as they start this journey... To hold their hands.

I remember getting dressed for that visitation and I was so very afraid. I had not been to many funerals in my life and I had no idea what to do... How I was EVER going to make it.... Much less what pitfalls that were ahead of me. I sadly didn't even think about preparing my children. I was in my own fog and shock and didn't even THINK about my children. That's embarrassing to say.... Yep. I failed. Many times. Hindsight is 20/20.

So look back in time and think about how to HELP OTHERS.... New mamas. This is an important piece of information girls...

Email me back with ANY suggestions. Seriously. I want WORDS! Not "looks fine... Blah blah blah". Think about yourself and what would have improved that horrible day. Let's make it better for those that follow us girlies.... Let's take a leap and try to Grieve Forward....

Hugs to you my friends...
Pamela.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ohhhh THAT DAY

August 19, 2012  Ohhhhh THAT DAY
Marlena wrote a post on facebook that all of us can relate to. Not all of us are on facebook so I thought that I would share it with you...
Hunter~~August 18th, 2012...Today...Today, for most people is just another day in the craziness of life. We USED to be people like that & sometimes we still are. But not today. Today is the 18th. The 18th of _____. The month doesn't matter. It's that number. The 18th.
The date on the calendar that silently screams out the memories. The date that continues to torture your Daddy as he replays the events of THAT day ~~the 18th, over and over and over. It doesn't matter that this one happens to mark the passing of 19 long, hard, horribly painful months without you. It might as well be the 1st one. The hurt is just as painful and sometimes more so than it was back then. At least at first we were in shock (a wonderful thing that God designed our bodies to do) and weren't expected to be "better", "over it (IT??!! really?), "moving on," and all those other things that we are supposed to be ... NOW... 19 months later.
While most of the world continues on in its hurried state, we are still a few steps behind. Trying our best to keep moving forward (on our "good" days) while grieving, remembering, hurting, yearning, screaming & crying (inwardly and outwardly), whining, arguing, questioning, being grouchy & hateful to ones we most love, giving thanks, being grateful, blessed, loving, ... and at the same time celebrating and rejoicing with you and for you as we are certain that Heaven is where you call home.
The bad days?? Those are the days that just getting out of bed and possibly brushing our teeth can be counted as a victory.
The holes that are left in our hearts... "heart holes... Hunter heart holes" can never be filled this side of heaven. The constant battle of our minds as we try to process the "forever~ness " of our earthly lives without you... weighs heavy on our souls.
As another 18th of the month closes it's sad door, I pray that God gives us strength to grieve well.. love more and find peace in our journey. I love you my little Miss Malynn and I thank God for you. I'm so glad that He chose me to be your crazy mommy.
Wow! Truly a beautifully stated note that at least expresses how I have felt many many times! I honor Marlena for how she is educating others that grief is NOT an event but a PROCESS that takes a long long time. Hunter is proud of you Marlena!!
Now let me tell you my perspective on anniversaries... I will say that the everyday pain DOES gets better all the time. This mommy just had her five year mark since my Loganmoved to Heaven. Anniversaries always stink... The days leading up to the anniversary always have been very very hard for me, starting with my birthday, July 18. Logan died five days after my 40th birthday... This year I was sadly and dramatically reminded that July 18 wasn't MY bad day at all. The focus of my day was no longer about me and my sorrow and loss of my Logan, but about someone else's loss and the beginning of their dark painful journey. Now, don't get me wrong, I picked up my heaviness and fogginess for Logan on Sunday and Monday, the day before and the the anniversary of his death. The part about the anniversaries for me, is that as the day begins to end, the fog and the heaviness begins to lift. On the average day, I never ever dreamed that I would FINALLY be living at this place of peace and contentment. There is hope.... just keep grieving FORWARD. Anniversaries do stink... I will never look at the 23th without thinking of my Logan. This is NATURAL and NORMAL! These children of ours didn't just slip into our lives and disappear... We are their mamas for eternity.
So the bottomline for me... I KNOW what a bad day looks like! We all do... There will come a day when a you will have a renewness of what a GOOD day looks like... it will slowly slip into your existence and live and stay and you will change. All of the changes that happen after the devastation of losing a child isn't bad... but it takes a LONG time and LOTS of grief work.
When springtime comes to you - and it will - it will burst forth with the light of sacred awareness, a renewed sense of God's presence, and an awakening of hope for your next step. Scripture reveals a comforting truth: "You are my lamp O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light." (2Samuel 22:29)
- An excerpt from Grieving Forward
I have a lot of thoughts about how I see this Mamas Group... I want each of you to think about this before our next meeting... what kind of "needs" and guidance did you have when you first were thrown into this club that no one wanted to join. (I don't mean the Mama's club either! The crappy losing your kid club!!) I would like to spend a few minutes sharing some of these thoughts with you at the next meeting.
Enjoy this day... Another change of seasons is approaching. Time can slowly move along.... Keep putting your feet on the floor and know that I am here-- we all are actually for each other. :)) Text or email me...
Hugs.... Pamela

Sunday, August 12, 2012

School is starting and I feel the big ole BLAHHHHSSSS

August 12, 2012 -- School is starting and I feel the big old BLAHHHHSSSS
Tonight I'm sitting here thinking of all of all of the mamas. School is starting---- this is a challenging time for everyone. Ya'll know me... So let's just put it out there....
If your child died as a grownup, we think back to those "starting school moments"--- These are precious but painful memories that create stabs in our heart.
If your child died as a teen or a preteen, we are feeling that painful longing for their presence. We miss what we SHOULD be experiencing. Taking them to college and settling them in the dorm room, taking the first day of school pictures, and meet the teacher night. This is just a smidgen of what we miss.
For those who have lost babies, it's actually just as sorrowful because it's a time of new beginnings in school and family presence. There is the constant "what might have beens" that are being felt.
So as y'all are reading this email, you are thinking, "Thanks Pamela for the uplifting message! Like WE didn't KNOW this!!"
Actually, the point behind this email is to recognize that this TIME in the year is HARD! It's not a holiday but it's important to know why we may be in a funk.
Now we all know.... Who WANTS to grieve?!?! Not ANYONE!! As a reminder, there is grace and healing to be found in these points of sorrow. Know that our lives are filled with points of sorrow and we should LEARN from them. See-- our children didn't just breeze in and out of our lives without an impact! WE of all people know this!!! Their impact has VALUE!!! Don't just pretend that this time of the year doesn't happen.... Recognize that it's ok to remember and to cry and think. Journal all that you are thinking because that's what is important..... One day it won't hurt quite so bad.... This I promise. At least when you do your grief work.
After you spend time reflecting on your child and what is missing, spend time reflecting on your blessings. Look at the simple pleasures that are around you. Breathe deeply. Stretch your muscles and your body and take care of YOU!
I'm proud of EACH one of your for getting out of bed and continuing to move -- even when you don't want to. This time of year too shall pass.
We can't lay down and give up because people and children are counting on us... Actually it's my personal belief that we CAN'T lay down because we MUST carry on at the VERY LEAST for our children that aren't living on this earth any more.
Heaven is a real place and I am thankful every day for this truth.
One more note... From the book Grieving Forward:
One of my favorite sayings is "It’s hard to see God’s perspective when your heart has been plowed by pain. But broken fields are where seeds of hope grow best. As they grow, one day you will realize that your sorrow has not escaped God’s watchful eyes - and that "heart-shattered lives ready for love/ don’t for a moment escape God’s notice." (Psalm 51:17 The Message) As you journey toward healing, embrace His reflections of grace as a reassuring message that He is still in charge, still on call, and still listening to your cries for help. You are not alone as you step into tomorrow. "He sees everything I do and every step I take." Job 31:4 NLT I hope that you feel the promise of life.
Blessings to each of you... Text or email if you feel like it...
Until our next mamas meeting...
Pamela. :))