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

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