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

Monday, May 20, 2013

Empathy versus Sympathy- revisited.

This is a rerun. Yep, it's "rerun season" again!  :)  Actually, I reflected on this topic today after listening to the news regarding the Oklahoma tornadoes. I wrote this after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school.  When listening to the media tonight, I believe it bears repeating. I'm editing it from the original article just a smidgen.  

God bless each family affected by this tragedy. My prayers go out to their entire community. 

Hugs....
Pamela 

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.
It is important to protect ourselves. Try to not listen to every tragedy in the news as often. It may help your outlook. 
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 not to completely absorb yourself in every tragedy that happens in the news. 
  • Grief is a PROCESS, Not an EVENT!
Hugs to each of you!! As always, I enjoy feedback!! :)
Pamela

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A different viewpoint from MINE?! Surely NOT!?!?!

Anyone ever watch the movie "vantage point?"  This movie depicts an event that occurred through different people's eyes. One person saw this event and then they "rewound" to the beginning to show the same story from a different vantage point. Then they did it again. Rewound. Another persons vantage point. Every one has a different perspective and viewpoint. 

This is everyone's lives. Especially during tragedy and trauma.  We see the world in a singular view - and tunneled vision- after the loss of our child. It's a matter of survival. We are very tunneled visioned.  It's just the way it is....  We can't HELP it!  

Allow me to explain...  NO ONE will know how you feel. NO ONE will ever understand how you feel.  Even me.... Or other mamas. We have a singular vantage view for our own situation. 

Example girlies...  My friend Tricia lost her son right before his senior year. I lost my son before his senior year...  I can only try to imagine her tragic individual situation and the aftermath- TRY but i cant!!-- because its so very different. My friend Nancy did CPR on her teenager daughter one autumn morning. I also did CPR on my son but our situations are sooooo very different.   Even the vantage point from my now ex husband is very different from my vantage point.  His relationship with my son was different because HE was Logan's  only daddy. I was my sons only mama. We saw and experienced the loss of our son.... Together but differently. Separately. Eventually slowly dividing into a great cavern. :(

I will say that this is NATURAL--- not normal--  because none of this is normal. 

How does this fit into my life this very minute?  Allow me to explain. I have spent the past week with my darling parents. I'm blessed to be able to travel with them at this stage in both of our lives.  My parents cannot possibly understand the loss of a child. They cannot understand how I feel... But...

My father had the sudden loss of his mother when he was a very young man of twenty... And far away in the navy. 

My mother had the tragedy of losing her oldest brother suddenly ( when she was a teen) while he was away in the military-- One day before he was to depart home. My grandmother also experienced the loss of two full term infants (Janice Marie and Baby boy). This CERTAINLY affected my mothers childhood. But how?  I can't truly imagine. For my grandmother, to lose her oldest son at her own middle aged point of her life... To bury three children is unimaginable to me. The memories of my grandmother is always of a woman who I viewed as an overall sad person. Since Logan's death, I've dreamed of seeing her now and having grown up dialogue... One grieving  mama toanother grieving Mama.  Sadly, it took my sons death to allow me to have a tiny window into my grandmothers world. 

How did these losses affect my parents as young adults?  How did these losses affect their lives? The way they raised me?  I have no idea and I suspect they do not either. 
More importantly, how do OUR losses affect those around US.  Our children who see things from a different vantage point..... The other members of our family who have had their own past grief experiences (without ANY grief support or acknowledgement - I might add). 

The point behind this long dialogue.... No one will understand how we areindividually  feeling or our thoughts. Please remember that their advice and understanding of this world that we've been tossed into is colored with their own experiences.

I don't know about you but this is a vantage point that I could not imagine at the one year or two year or three year or four year point. But it's true.... We are so tunnel visioned focused that the way that others grieve isn't apparent to us until we are clearer in our own vision with the fog lifting. 

Today- I THANK and commend those pioneers of  grief who walked alone. Those children who had parents swallowed in sorrow that they couldn't focus on their children--  those parents who tried to push through the dark forest of the unknown. All of these people deserve a little latitude and  gratitude as we continue to journey through this fog called grief. 

On the other hand, if you open your eyes to the unknowing folks who are there for US during moments of our struggles. That adorable young man at the hotel who kindly listened to me rattle on and on... ( I know this is common, me rattling....) the man at Napas winery who was kind with soft spoken redirecting words on wine tasting and wine making as I was struggling though the day of Logan's birthday-- he had no idea where my mind was. 
The point is - often we are "sent" people into our lives for a moment and a season to help boost us up over a hurdle. Recognize that our loving God doesn't announce them with trumpets. They may not even know it...  But they are put there at a time and place in our world.

Thoughts?  Pop me an email. I've tremendously valued the emails and friendships that I've established though this "mama club". 

Keep putting those tootsies on the floor every day, in a rhythm... You'll one day feel the control back into your life when you do this. Control helps provide us comfort and hope when we are wandering through the dark. 

"I will give you the treasures of darkness,/ riches stored in secret places,/ that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." (Isa. 45:3)  

As always, hugs my girlfriends.... Sisters in this crazy club that we didn't ask to join. Hopefully you feel sparks of light today. 

Pamela. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Logan's birthday. So much for planning.

This is my fb post today. I've actually written this in advance. I've learned that advanced preparation is best to control my emotions. THAT didnt work so well on Mother's Day at church!  Ha!  If you are unaware of what I'm referring to, read the last post. 

I can tell you that in preparing for my sons birthday in the past, I felt foggy leading up to the day. It was as if my body said.... NO!  It can't possibly happen again!  

It's therapeutic to write things down. It allows you to sort out the crazy feelings that we have when our child dies.... And those days roll around again. 

Hugs to each of you mamas as we continue putting our feet on the floor... In good days and bad.

Now- an evening addendum at the end of the day. Remember that not one person in this world knows how you feel. You will potentially be short tempered and very touchy. Doesn't it stink to kinda "need" to take a vacation day to deal with crap that no one should deal with?!  The birthday and anniversary. Rght now when I'm grumpy and sorrowful alone-- or when I try so hard to stay busy I snap. In all reality, it was very poor planning to vacation this week with my folks. They deserve a "better" and more patient me. Oh, the lessons that we learn. Next year ill be at a beach in the sunshine or snoozing in bed. Who knows?!   It's another layer of sadness that Logan's birthday provokes tears....    I do not cry on Wesley or Callie's birthday.   Thoughts?!  

Thank you to everyone who is listening. Normally i feel that i can toss sparks of light- but this day im too tired. This little brain leak of mine called a website/ blog is spreading slowly to other mamas. Today, I feel totally incapable of conceptualizing thoughts and sentences... Tomorrow is another day, sisters.  You are watching me from a distance melt into the silence of the evening.... Gentle tears alone....  I still say none of this is normal but it's natural. Hopefully this window into my world helps someone. Idk.  

Pamela 
Holeheartedmamas@gmail.com

Here it is....

Today I celebrate my son Logan's birthday.  Although Logan would only spend 17 years on this earth with us, I still will never forget the day of his birth and arrival into our family.  He was funny and sweet and endearing.    When a child comes into this world, we celebrate and remember the day that they were born. When a child dies, it is STILL appropriate and important to remember their birthday... Their LIFE and impact on our family and the world.  Even though we try to focus on the smiles and memories, sorrow is in the shadows as we ponder the "What might have beens."   I miss him tremendously. All of us do... The length of time since I have touched his face and hair and heard his voice is getting longer.... 2125 days... Today I remember Logan Steven Parker's 23rd birthday - but forever 17.... 


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Surprising Tears at church-- how embarrassing!

It's the big Mother's Day today. I drove to Louisiana yesterday to be with my mother for this day. 

So here I sit...  Outside of the big church while my parents are inside. Sitting on a brick planter with tears gently flowing.  What happened?  Please allow me to back up... 

I came to church with my mother and father. Apparently it's graduation celebration day-- which is exciting for those participating. Then the pastor asked all of the mothers to stand. By this time, I was becoming a little hesitant, but I stood. He spoke beautiful praises of mothers everywhere and what they mean to the world and families.  (
I have been one of those busy mothers who deserved to be honored.) Then everyone stood to sing. 

Wow!  Was this it?  I began to feel great emotion as I realized how many people that I know who have ached and longed to have the opportunity to become a mother. Also, I know sadly many mamas whose arms and hearts ache because their infants have died. The list continues as I think of the many mothers who have lost children who lived to only be a small child, a teen, or even through adulthood. Girls- as you all know, a mama is a mama regardless of the age of her child. Now I'll add to the list the people who are missing their mothers as they do not have them earthly present to celebrate with. 

That's one big list...  The pastor, who I'm certain is a caring Godly man, neglected to address these hurting people. As a mother who is trying to redefine normal in my own life, I felt overwhelmed as I realized that this attitude is what is socially accepted by society. I have spoken to more grieving mothers than I care to count-- this is what I call  "taking the casserole" mentality...  I brought the casserole. Went to the funeral. Sent a card.  Now what's the problem?  Are you still feeling sad?  I did MY part. (I do not really believe that this pastor nor everyone believes this totally but to some degree, the fact that grief is a process and not event is not yet fully accepted by most.) 

The truth is--  People learn when they are seasoned with life and experiences. 

A couple of years ago- I remember hearing the pastor at the mega church that I attend FIRST mention the hurting that many feel around holidays. THAT was comforting. 

So here I sit in the bright sunlight--outside of this church-- on a brick planter-- but yet the breeze of the gentle wind is too chilly to feel any warmth... Despite the sun on my skin.
Now church is letting out and I'm faced with seeing people with my embarrassment. Sigh. 

"He floods the darkness with light; he brings light to the deepest gloom."  Job 12:22NLT 

Hold tight onto these Truths that our Heavenly Father has sent to us...  Much love to each of you who are walking through the journey of grief. 

Pamela Parker 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mothers Day.... Just breatheeeee

I've been a writer for years... Privately. It helps me sort my thoughts. When looking back at what I've written -- I notice that in the past few years I am quiet during this time of year. This current rapid succession of holidays really smack me down. I often cannot find words to write that would encourage or support. Honestly, i just fade into the background as life occurs around me. People who know me personally have watched me tolerate holidays. I never dreamed that I would dread every holiday.

Why? After my son died, my family forever lost a "normal" sense of holidays. Then I divorced. My children scattered as they have grown up. It's painful to look at other families and know that just a few years ago we were playing games in the backyard and having barbecues. We were celebrating. We were celebrating with family and friends. We were celebrating life.

Now I fade into the background. I am happy that everyone is making plans. I am happy that families are enjoying each other. The more that I watch from afar at Facebook and in the media, the more it hurts.

One coping mechanism is quite simply...
Stay off of Facebook. All of the "happy" family posts make the changes in your life seem even more pronounced.

Another helpful plan is to quietly plan a way to recognize the blessings that you currently have. What are they? Your living children? Your family? This sounds rather horrific but briefly think- what if I lost another child or loved one? Yikes!! Take this time to appreciate those people who are here and celebrate these things. It isn't the "present" that we dreamed and desired but it is a present.

If you cant be with your loved ones, call and tell them that you love them. That you treasure them.

Whatever you do, just make a plan. As we approach Mother's Day I reflect on those years in which my family was cohesive. I'm not going to lie- It does make me feel sad because those previous years are gone but it does make me content that I have those memories. I cannot change the past but I can try to enjoy each breathing moment and make plans to have a better future.

Whatever you feel like doing on Mother's Day is your choice. No one can tell you what to do or what to feel on Mother's Day. Just remember- even if your child is no longer living, you are still a mother.

Blessings to all of my mama friends out there and all who are wandering through the fog of grief.


Pamela Parker
Holeheartedmamas@gmail.com

Friday, May 3, 2013

A lesson from Felicia... Don't Tell Me

Felicia wrote this poem after her son Travis Dye died.  Perhaps some of you mamas can relate to this... I know that for a long long time, I felt this way.  If you've never lost a child, please read this.  It is a painful insight into the horrific physical and emotional pain that a mother feels when her child has been ripped from her. 
 
On the positive side... when you do your grief work, these feelings will decrease and the joy in life will slowly make its way back.  It is a LONG LONG LONG process.  Not even months.  YEARS.  Please support mamas who lose their babies by reading these words.  Please support them for LIFE... not a few weeks or months. 
 
Much love to Felicia for sharing her broken heart with us.  Hugs sister....
Pamela
 
 
 
Don't Tell Me
by Felicia Donovan (written on Friday, July 1, 2011)

Please don't tell me you know how I feel, unless you have loss your son too,
Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal, because that's not true
 
Please don't tell me my son is in a better place, though it is true,
I want him here with me
Don't tell me someday I'll hear his voice, see his face, beyond...
Today I cannot see.
 
Don't tell me its time to move on, because I cannot.
Don't tell me to face the fact that he is gone, because denial is something I cannot stop,
 
Don't tell me to be thankful for the time I had, because I want more,
Don't tell me when I am my old self you will be glad,
I'll never be as I was before.
 
What you can tell me is you will be here for me.
That's you will listen when I talk of my son.
You can share with me my precious memories.
You can even cry with me for a while, and please don't hesitate to say his name...
Because it is something I long to hear everyday.
 
Friend please realize that I can never be the same,
but if you stand by me,
you may like the new person I have become someday. 

Note from Felicia--
I did this what seems so long ago but yet I hurt like it happened yesterday. I love and miss you Travis Dye
 
 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Getting ready for the birthday.

I've written about sorrow to the depths of my soul. I've written about "holding on" and putting your feet on the floor and walking through your grief. I've written about the contentment that you can eventually feel when you do your "grief work."

This week I'm writing about it being a mixed bag of emotions. I try to write for the public about a variety of perspectives and using my experience only as an example. The purpose of this blog isn't about ME and my loss. This week, I want to let you know more.

My son who died (weird words huh?) will have his 23rd birthday on may 16. I know that this will be a challenging time for me-- as it SHOULD be! I did HAVE this child and I had the pleasure and frustration (keeping it real!!) of raising him until he was 17.

I've actually already written my post for next week. I've been unintentionally foggy toooooo much on his birthday. Last year I scheduled myself to work. By about 10 am I had to confess to my dear coworker my challenge and she helped with my fogginess and tasks.

See-- think about this girls. Some days we know are gonna sink... I'm PLANNING.

This year I'll be spending the first year -in very many years - on mothers day with my mama and daddy in Louisiana. I have taken the next week (during Logan's birthday) to travel with them to San Francisco on vacation. I sigh as I wonder if I'll be able to think and smile and enjoy the PRESENT as I spent time with my folks. I hope so but idk... In the past on his birthday I've behaved a variety of different ways.... Staying home alone in the quiet darkness of my thoughts. Last year I unfortunately worked, as I previously described. So far Logan's day of birth has stunk since he died.

Why am I going to SF that week, you ask?! Because I am CHOOSING to honor his LIFE and his MEMORY by trying to LIVE. I may be a messed up crazy person that day-- who knows?! I'll probably have a sobbing episode at some point- but that's ok, he deserves that too. Most importantly, Logan would want me to live and stop tolerating and marking away the holidays and painful days with a big sigh.

Thank you for listening to my plans of how I'm going to deal with the horrible holiday Mother's Day and my deceased sons birthday. :))

I'll let y'all know how it goes girlies.... As a side note, I thoroughly enjoy your emails and private comments. Keep them coming.

Keep putting your tootsies on the floor. Every single day. Hugs to each and every one of you. If I can do this, YOU can do this! Hugs hugs hugs....

Pamela.

Ps- On a side note- I've written a private and extremely personal note to those who request it. I refuse to publish it at this time. It's about a surprise gift that I received five years ago. Pop me an email if you wanna read one of the first step in my healing. holeheartedmamas@gmail.com. Just say - extra note- and I'll send it. :)))