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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mamas and our babies

I call all of the women in this "club" a mama. So what makes a mama? Anyone who has lost a child. I know a 70 year old woman who has lost her 40 year old child. I know a 23 year old who lost her infant. There are lots of mamas who lose their teenaged children. I also know several mamas who have lost their 30 year old babies.

You say "babies"? YES! I don't care how old our children are, they are still our babies. I call my 26 year old tall handsome married son my baby as well as my almost 20 year old daughter who is in the Navy.

"The Compassionate Friends, Inc., deduces from government reports that deaths from pre-birth through young adults is close to a million annually, leaving nearly two million bereaved parents every year". This is per "Surviving the Loss of a Child" by Elizabeth Brown. Wow! Two million bereaved parents a year?!? This club is one that NO one desires to join but there are a LOT of us!!!!

If you are a parent, every time your child's birthday pops around, you remember when you went into labor and the day that baby was born. THIS is normal and natural for all children, whether they are living or have passed to the other side. We walk through that day and if they are living, we smile. If they have passed, we shake and are often foggy.

It is still important and normal to remember the child's birth. THIS is normal! In my case, while I was being induced into labor, Kathie Lee and Regis announced that Sammy Davis Jr. and Jim Henson had died. I never put this in Logan's baby book. It was too SAD to think of the people dying when my baby was coming into this world for LIFE. The creator of the muppets died when my Logan was born.

We separate ourselves from death as much as we can. At least I did. (Even though I was a hospice nurse in my past.) Unless in a professional setting... That was "safe." I think that most of us do this. Distance!!! Safe!!

When my big 17 year old boy died, my girlfriend and coworker Jeanna was there in the Emergency Room with me. She said - "Should I call Cindy?" Cindy was my manager at work. I said - "No. She lives too far away. Call Mary because she will know what to do." I didn't really GET the seriousness of it and Mary had lost an adult child two years before me. I was subconsciously designating Mary at that very moment to be my personal guide....In those first few minutes after my child's last breath. Oh--- as an FYI--- we called Cindy too. :). Mary is still a calm grounded resource for me personally and I REALLY value her honesty, guidance, and mentoring (in many areas of my life.) I've heard from many other mamas that sought out advice and guidance from people who have walked before us. We want HOPE that the pain will lessen. We want direction on how to get out of this nightmare. Sparks of light. HOPE. There is HOPE.

"He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us." 2 Corinthians 1:4. The message version.

Back to being a mama and birthdays.... This was my fb post on my Logan's last birthday in May:
"When a child comes into this world, we celebrate their birth and birthdays. When a child dies, their birthday is still precious. It is the life we celebrate and the memories. The memory of smiles and laughter and silliness are there every day... The whispers of their absence are also felt daily. Birthdays mark time--- the length of time away is getting longer. Four years ten months and twenty three days since I've heard your voice and touched your face. Today I celebrate the life and ponder the "what might have beens".... Of my middle child Logan. His 22 birthday but forever 17."

So know that I mention "mamas" and your "child". That doesn't mean necessarily a baby. Once a mama, always a mama.

Since beginning this public blog a short time ago, you guys have been rather quiet. Please feel free to contact me privately with questions or comments via email. I'll work hard to find the answer.

I'll end with... "Where you are now, you will not always be." THIS is a promise to you! More on THAT later.

Blessings to each of my mama friends.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Circus and the aftermath....

When a child dies, there is a bit of a circus that occurs. The love and support of friends and the community is very apparent but can also be overwhelming during a funeral. After the funeral when the first few weeks have passed, the support that you feel frequently will change over time. The flowers and plants die and the cards in the mailbox stop and your house becomes oddly and eerily silent. It is very common for most people to not have a clue of what to say! They come to the funeral and send a card and bring a casserole. All of those things are wonderfully supportive actions but you may need more.

Think about it... How would they know what to say? We don't want them to ever understand... really... The only way to know is to live through this nightmare and we wouldn't wish this on anyone. So with that being said, I think it's totally appropriate and important to guide and teach people about grief. Guide them in what you need for them to do.

I was really surprised when I went back to work and walked down the hall and no one LOOKED at me. Suddenly, everyone needed to check the time on their watch to avoid eye contact. The truth is, it HURT them to look at me. Where did the EYES go? I felt alone because no one understood. Also, one physician that I work with was actually honest with me when he said- "You are living my worst nightmare and quite honestly, I've avoided you. Its embarrassing to say this but I don't know what to say." That was refreshing for me to hear because then I began to understand. Few would dare to ask me how I was doing because they were afraid that I would actually answer them or break into sobs.

Guide people. Teach them. It's ok to do that. Make them look at you. Tell them what you need.

After Logan died I was uncertain of how to respond when people would say - "We want the old Pam back." All I could think of was -- REALLY?! ME TOO!! Ya think I like this?!?!

You may notice groups of well meaning people who will cluster together and whisper - "So how's she doing?!" Well NOW I know that it is natural (I'll never say normal because it isn't normal to lose your child) but it's NATURAL to have every pore in your body to ooze out thoughts and rememberances and pain of your child who has died.

Now, quite honestly, when people ask me questions about a mama who I know who is grieving... "How's she doing?" I say - "She's exactly where she is supposed to be. She has been dropped off in a dark foreign land where she doesn't speak the language and doesn't know how to get out. Its frightening. She's absolutely devastated. Devastated but trying to redefine normal."

Additionally to note.... I think it's important to maintain your privacy. I remember being at the grocery store and watching people glance my way and whisper. I felt like my life had become very public. If ANY person wants to know the details of the events that occurred and all of the horror, DO NOT TELL THEM. TRUE friends care about how YOU AND YOUR FAMILY are DOING NOW. Not DETAILS of the horror. It's no ones business what is happening in your private lives unless you desire to tell them. Keep your circle small- especially if there are legal issues regarding your child's death. I will rarely ever ask any details about the death of a child because how the family is functioning is most important. One more personal thought--- I know several mamas who have lost their children and the media has become involved. It is a rare occurrence that the media will get the details correct regarding the death of your child and its my personal opinion- "do not feed the animals." The more you give the media, the more they want. You didn't ask to be in the headlines so DON'T! Be quiet to them and they will leave.

So to wrap up these "all over the board" thoughts....
Remember that:

1) People are truly innocently ignorant. Well meaning though. You scare them!!

2) Those that don't really care will fade away and gossipers will be easily identified

3) Take this opportunity to help them understand and educate. I think facebook can be a perfect medium for this. Pray before you post. Put lots of thought into your written words.

4) The death of your child isn't pretty and grief is HORRIBLE and invasive and takes over every cell in your body.

5) You don't need an audience as they watch you and your family suffer. Allow genuinely caring people into your life.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Changes over time...

After Logan died, I was really sensitive to noise. I put my feet on the floor and went to work but when at home, I needed a large dose of quiet. My energy level was very very low and I didn't have the attention span to read. That was really unusual for me because I was an avid reader prior to Logan's death. So what did I do? I just sat. Quietly. Alone at home on my day off. I just couldn't hear noise and I just needed to sit. I then began to watch tv. Oh-- but I couldn't stand the noises so picture this-- Pamela sitting on the couch watching tv with the mute button on and the words running across the screen. I didn't wanna feel so alone so the tv fulfilled my need for diversion and the mute button allowed the quiet.

Each of us have different NEEDS as we are going through the PROCESS of grief. One thing that is certain.... We now are different than before!

Before he died, I enjoyed cooking and entertaining. I was actively involved in my children and friends lives. I enjoyed reading books and gardening. I loved my job as a registered nurse in a preop and post op setting.

Immediately afterwards, I couldn't cook. I just couldn't do it. There was no way that I could think of entertaining. I couldn't stop thinking of the changes in my present and I was unable to really listen and interact with my living children as I had before. I couldn't get through a magazine article much less read the books that people gave me - even on grief. My job as a nurse and my self confidence was significantly changed.

That was then... I can tell you that this WAS THEN. I still AM different. I'm very different. I have different interests but I have returned to some of those interests that I enjoyed before. For a while I began to personally find healing in gardening and really looking at the flowers up close - as Gods handiwork. I now enjoy cooking on occasion and planning parties for other friends events. Honestly, the party planning allows me to feel in control again. Anything that gives you structured thinking with a defined outcome can give you control. As for my nursing, the immediate positive feedback from patients was very nurturing for ME! Additionally, it took several critical situations in which I demonstrated to myself my abilities for that self confidence to return.

The POINT of all of these words words words.... Everyone is in a different place with your INDIVIDUAL grief.

Keep up with the goal of putting your feet on your floor. Everyday. Go to bed on time. Wake up and get out of bed. Adapt a routine. But EMBRACE the understanding and goal of REDEFINING NORMAL. It is slow. As I stated, before I was one person. Afterwards I was totally different. Then slowly I began to redefine normal to now be even more changed. Now my "new normal" is fairly comfortable for me.

The one thing I can say- where you are now, you will not always be. Hang in there girlies.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcome to 2013!

January 2, 2013---  Welcome to 2013!

Here we are! Made it through Christmas! Who woulda thunk it?!!

The hype leading to Christmas will often lead to a "let down" after Christmas. I heard this on KLOVE today... How children and grown-up people are often let down after the hype of Christmas.

Didn't we see perfect Christmas china on tv? What about funny banter between family members about gifts? Yep... These people have no idea.... "Real Christmas" is reality.... Happiness combined with pain and sorrow and loss.
Until you've faced the horrific act of burying a child, you have no idea of the complexity of emotions that are there. Girlies... Just smile and know that you know the secret to life.... That youve been through Hell on earth but through Christ there is eternity.
I found this on the National Alliance for Grieving Children's Facebook Page
New Year Resolutions for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Hoping 2013 brings us all peace and joy.
This year I resolve...
~That I will grieve as much, and for as long, as I feel like grieving, and that I will not let others put a time table on my grief.
~That I will grieve in whatever way I feel like grieving, and I will ignore those who try to tell me what I should or should not be feeling and how I should or should not be behaving.
~That I will cry whenever and wherever I feel like crying, and that I will not hold back my tears just because someone else feels I should be "brave" or "getting better" or "healing by now."
~That I will talk about my loved one as often as I want to, and that I will not let others turn me off just because they can't deal with their own feelings.
~That I will not expect family and friends to know how I feel, understanding that one who has not lost a loved one to suicide cannot possibly know how it feels.
~That I will not blame myself for my loved one's death, and that I will constantly remind myself that I did the best job I could possibly have done. But when feelings of guilt are overwhelming, I will remind myself that this is a normal part of the grief process and it, too, will pass.
~That I will commune with my loved one at least once a day in whatever way feels comfortable and natural to me, and that I won't feel compelled to explain this communion to others or to justify or even discuss it with them.
~That I will try to eat, sleep, and exercise every day in order to give my body the strength it will need to help me cope with my grief.
~To know that I am not losing my mind, and I will remind myself that loss of memory, feelings of disorientation, lack of energy, and a sense of vulnerability are all normal parts of the grief process.
~To know that I will heal, even though it may take a long time.
~To let myself heal and not to feel guilty about feeling better.
~To remind myself that the grief process is circuitous - that is, I will not make steady upward progress. And when I find myself slipping back into the old moods of despair and depression, I will tell myself that 'slipping backward" is also a normal part of the grief process and these moods, too, will pass.
~To try to be happy about something for some part of every day, knowing that at first, I may have to force myself to think cheerful thoughts, so eventually they may become a habit.
~That I will reach out at times, and try to help someone else, knowing that helping others will help me to get over my depression.
~That even though my loved one is dead, I will opt for life, knowing that is what he/she would want me to do.
Author Unknown, Adapted by Nancy A. Mower