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, June 17, 2013

The winding path of grief... Stages or Tasks? I Vote Tasks!

Before you read the following, I want to explain the previous comments that I have made regarding the Stages of Grief.  I HONOR Elisabeth Kubler-Ross because she was AMAZING in that she REALIZED that grief needed to be addressed.  Like I explained before, she was a medical student in the 1960's who realized that NO ONE had talked about dying with patients... or with survivors.  She was a groundbreaking theorist and she plowed through lots of new territory.  After much reading, I have begun to realize that Kubler-Ross may not be the end and total answer to explain grief... she was just the beginning. 

Thankfully, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross just BEGAN the thinking and research on grief and dying.  Yay!  It is important that we understand more and more and recognize how to help others.  Read the following information that I have found... interesting. 

Wanna know what you are going to go through?  I believe that this is more of a realistic grief model, myself.  The most important thing to realize is that it gets better as you go through the process of grief. 

Quoted (With my editing) from Margaret H. Gerner, MSW 
Website www.bpusastl.org


In the early „80s Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published her book  On Death and Dying. In it she introduced the concept of STAGES of grief. Recently, Dr. William Worden, a renowned thanatologist (a person who studies death and dying... I KNOW!  Crazy, huh?) , introduced the concept of the TASKS of grief. I prefer this concept because it eliminates the implication of a sequence of time limits or stages.

The concept of tasks of grief is oriented towards what one must do in order to reconcile the loss. It imposes no time limits or sequence on accomplishing the work of grief. Worden's four tasks are to:

1. Face the reality that your loved one is dead.

2. Allow yourself to experience the pain of grief.

3. Learn to live without your loved one.

4. Find meaning in your life that does not include your loved one.

Let us discuss these tasks separately with our child‟s death in mind.

TASK ONEFace the reality that your loved one is dead.

Certainly, at the time of the death, you know intellectually that h/she is dead, but before you can grieve the loss you must know this at a deep level. It is a common belief that if a loved one died after a long illness, we have already begun to grieve. However, this is only partly true. During a terminal illness we might have begun to let go of our love and do some of the unfinished practical and emotional work. We might also have grieved for other losses, such as the loss of the person he or she was before the illness or the loss a part of ourselves. However, we cannot grieve the loss of our love until h/she dies. On the other hand, when the death is sudden we have no opportunity to prepare in any way.

Initially, regardless of whether the death was sudden or expected, we react with shock and denial. Shock sustains us throughout the funeral and for some time afterwards. Denial allows us to face the full reality slowly.

In either sudden or unexpected death, the full impact that our child is dead and will never be in our life again, takes weeks and sometimes months to hit.

For weeks we expect him to come in the door. . When the phone rings, we still expect it to be her. For a long time we start to set her place at the table. We continue to do all the things that were an automatic part of life with our child. Protective denial is at work here.

Out of habit we continue certain activities. Only repeated reminders that he isn‟t going to come in the door, call, or be home for dinner, cause us to stop expecting it to happen. It takes four to six months of knife sharp reminders before we fully realize at a deep level that our love is never going to participate in that activity again.

Unconscious denial that the death really happened, and facing the full reality that it did, are both necessary aspects of grief. But, to successfully accomplish this first task of grief, we should allow the normal ebb and flow between the two.

TASK TWOAllow yourself to experience the pain of grief.
To accomplish this task you must allow yourself to hurt, be angry, feel guilty, talk about your child and how you miss him, cry as much as you need to, ask the question "why" over and over, and express any other emotions you may feel.

Unfortunately, well meaning friends and relatives may tell you to be brave and to get on with your life. In a sense they are saying, "don‟t grieve". Actually, this advice is harmful. It causes you to bury your emotions and pretend you‟re "fine", when in reality, you‟re miserable.

If you really look at it, this advice doesn‟t even make good sense. When you lose someone you love and who is very close to you—especially your child, —you will hurt. You can‟t suddenly turn off the love you felt for and from your child and go about the business of living as if h/she never existed. It‟s impossible.

To accomplish this second task, learn about grief. Read some of the many good books on grief that are available. Find someone who will let you cry and listen as you talk out your thoughts and feelings. Attend a bereaved parent support group.

Allow yourself to feel and express your motions. Rethink what you have been told

about grieving. Remember, feelings aren‟t facts. Your feelings may not be logical, and certainly, expressing them won‟t bring your child back, but none-the -less they are there and must be worked through.

TASK THREE: Learn to live without your loved one.
Your pattern of living has been drastically altered. Perhaps now you have no children or only two children instead of three. Eating at the table with that empty chair facing you, doing many of the things that your child was part of isn‟t an easy task, and it can‟t be done overnight

As you have probably been told many times since your child died, life must go on, but now it GOES on differently than when your child was alive. You must now learn a new way.

Just as grieving is a process, so is accomplishing this task. It involves repeating an activity many times until it becomes familiar.

TASK FOUR: Find meaning in your life that does not include your loved one.
Rarely do you think about the meaning of your life before losing your child. As a parent, you didn‟t set aside time to ponder how your child defined you and how your life was molded by your role of mother or father. .

You never consciously examined what your child meant in your world. It just seemed right to go to work, fix meals, save money, decorate your house, or any of the many other things you did as a parent. But, on an unconscious level, beneath your awareness, your child and all the ways she/he was in your life, provided you with most of your reason for living—she or he gave your life meaning.

There are few concrete suggestions for finding new meaning in life because meaning is a deeply personal thing, unique to each of us. We don‟t "decide" to find new meaning. It just happens as we go about living and loving without our child. Rarely are we conscious of accomplishing this task, but subtle changes give us clues that it might be happening. For example, thoughts about what you will do with your life now, or that you have two children to put through college instead of three, suggests that you are beginning the search for new meaning. Usually you recognize that your meaning is changing only when you look back and see how different your life is now. You see accomplishment of this fourth task only in retrospect.

As with the other tasks of grief, this task takes time—probably the longest of all the four tasks, with much moving ahead and pulling back. You may be attracted to the idea of change, but at the same time, fear leaving the familiarity of old ways. You may enjoy newly found interests, but at the same time, feel disloyal to your child.

Old meanings are hard to let go of and new meanings are hard to develop, but, if you are to reconcile your loss and find a new life, you must do both.

In summary, keep in mind that these tasks of grief must be tackled over and over. They are sometimes accomplished separately; at other times they are accomplished simultaneously with other tasks. Remember that the concept of the tasks of grief is not meant to be a blue print for grieving, rather guideposts to help you along the road to healthy recovery.

A note from Pamela -

Hats off to Kubler-Ross for establishing the groundwork.  Hats off to Dr. Worden for helping us see that there is a different kind of path.  There are many more grief theorists.  Read one that you believe to be true?  Email me...   

MOST importantly, know that every person goes through a unique experience and the PROCESS of grief.....  There isn't a simple timeframe or path through the darkness, but your will see more light.  Keep putting your tootsies on the floor.  Everyday.     

Hugs to each and every one of you.

Pamela Parker

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers perspective. Dale Hubbard.

When putting together this blog, I recognized that I could ONLY speak about grief from a mothers perspective. I'm not a father who has lost a child.   

Several weeks ago I requested that an old hometown friend write about his experience-- from a fathers perspective. 

"I am not going to bore you with a lot of past garbage but in 1965 I was in So.Vietnman sitting on the hill side behind a machine gun on guard. One of the guys brought me a letter - which was the highlight of our day. When I opened the letter and started to read the words, they jumped off of the page at me. HONEY KENNETH DIED DURING BIRTH. 

We were excited that after first having a daughter, we were now expecting a son. Well now we found out that it was not to be. 

I had no idea how to make the pain better.  I got drunk thinking this would ease the pain, but it didnt.   A close friend told me that I needed to give it to GOD. I took about six years for me to realize I was mad at God. 

God never said that life would be easy for us.  He did promise that He would walk with us through it. 

Many years later, everything in our life was great.   We had it made until 11 years ago when the doctor looked at us and said it is a little thing called cancer. I will say it is not such a little thing. Blanche took me by the hand and said God will see us through this. He has -- even though she had to have her right breast removed a year later."

Let me explain further, Dale and Blanche lost their son before WE as a society began to have any clue about "grief theory."  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is the first researcher to ever study grief. Although her five stages of grief are considered unproven and oversimplified by many now, she was a ground breaking scientist in the late 1960's. She was the chick in medical school who made everyone aware that there IS grief. It is real. How do we help people?  How does it work?

The faith in our loving God and in Heaven as a real PLACE helps many of us come to terms with where our child is and that we will all be reunited again. I WILL say that faith alone does NOT make the pain better. I wondered on a daily basis, in that first year or two, if my faith just wasn't strong enough. I STILL HURT!  So if I pray and I have faith, then WHY does it still hurt?  

Honestly, this is what i consider the danger time period in which many people will become bitter and lose faith in God. This is when well meaning Christian folks unknowling hurt the grieving.  Our society believes in a smoke and mirrors God that believes that its all going to be better with a few prayers. I began to detest those words "Give it to God."  I did blurt out on a few occasions "REALLY?!  Think I haven't DONE that?!"  (FYI- if you have met me in real life, you already know that I say what I think-- not always using my socially acceptable vocabulary-- sometimes to a fault!)

Like Dale stated, God never promised us exemption from suffering, but He promised to be with us through the suffering.  He sits with us in the reality of our losses and makes Himself known to us.  In the darkest night of our souls, when we've lost our way.   He is there.  

Hold on to this promise:  Your season of grief will change.  You will become stronger and you will feel joy in your heart again.  I'm sure there were moments when David, the shepherd, king, and psalmist, thought the song and joy of his heart was lost forever.  As this Scripture reveals, God did not fail him.  He will not fail you either. He hasn't failed me (but I had my season of doubt that the pain would leave)
The Lord is my strength and my shield;  My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;  Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.  Psalm 28:7 NASB

So DON'T feel like your faith isn't good enough or that you have been abandoned by God during this grieving process. Remember.... We NOW KNOW that It's a process. A long long process. No one could walk Dale and Blanche through  their horror.  Grief wasn't understood.   It was mysterious and frightening (true THAT!!) . On the positive side- there is the promise that the pain will diminish. Not by the magic wand that God waves when we pray the "best" and most "heartfelt" prayers.... But by our loving God silently giving us strength and little gifts -- quiet comforts with the hope of a new day tomorrow. Eternal promises. 

Final statement. God hasn't failed you.  He's there. Close by.... Keep putting those tootsies on the floor every day. Every day. Rhythm. It'll give you comfort and control. Thank you my dear friend Dale for your insight. I honor you and Blanche. Now and always. 

Thoughts?  Love private emails. You gals have proven to me to be private and quiet. Hugs to each one of you. 

Pamela Parker 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Things that grow from the dirt...

I met one of my girlfriends for dinner tonight. It's been a while since we have actually carved out time to see each other. Aren't we pitiful?  Great friends but ohhhhh the effort that it requires to gather the energy to plan and calculate a time and pick a restaurant. THEN the energy to get dressed etc. I know that I'm the most guilty one for staying home in my comfortable and protected zone. 

We chatted over our personal girlie girl lives and then I wanted an update. An update on her grief viewpoint. 

See--when  you've lost your child, these conversations are not only expected, but are just FINE.  We are on a level playing field and I learn so much from others. 

Her son died a little over a year ago. Recently I had another mother tell me- "between year one and year two is hardest."  I was curious about her thoughts, because she TOO is between year one and year two. 

As I asked questions about her thoughts, it brought me back in time- to just a few years ago- to between my year one and year two. Where was I?!  I was tired constantly. (Remember that grief is poops you out!). Also, I had exhausted everyone around me... It happens with us all. We can't HELP it. 

I found solace in digging in the dirt.The amazing incredible things that God produces out of the dirt gave me hope. I began to look at the intricacy of each flower and leaf-- and it had new meaning to me. If our loving God would put soooo much effort into a plant or flower or His Creation, what was he doing with me?  How was He quietly tending "me" as His garden? 

Susie Duke in Grieving Forward  "When you are consumed with grief,often other people just don’t want to be around it. If they only knew how much is learned on the threshing floor of grief - the place where wheat is crushed in order to separate the insignificant stalks from the treasured grain - they would see that grief takes you to the deep places of your heart, and that all the changes occurring in your life are not bad. In fact they might catch a glimpse of grace in its purest form, and sacred love unveiled. At first, you may not feel comfortable with change, but in time, you’ll realized how much grief has seasoned you." (pg 66) The quiet time that I have, like it or not, has made me have time for reflection. I didn’t want to be seasoned... but I am now feeling more of a sense of peace and purpose. The fog will last for quite sometime, but will begin to lift. Time and going through the grieving process does make the light start to come back into your life again. But as you will notice, grief is like the tide, it will roll in and it will roll out. "

I've quoted her many times when she writes - "It's in the darkness where we truly learn to trust His voice and His direction for our next step. "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)  He often conceals the deep work that is going on in our hearts as He works behind the curtains of our darkness.  Some things grown best in the dark, such as undaunted trust and fathomless faith.  No one can see the tulip bulb growing inside the cold, dark earth in the winter, but the treasure is there waiting for spring to call forth its beauty into the light.  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."

I held onto those words during that time period and even now. That even in the darkness, God was shining a teeeeee tiny light for me to see a smidgen before my next step. 

So girls, by reading these words, I began to dig in the dirt. I became a crazy landscaping idiot who wanted to see what all God could produce from dirt, water, and seed. It was miraculous. :)

One of my personally biggest challenges was selling my house during the divorce. Although I now live in a wonderful condo, I don't have dirt. I can't watch Gods creation blooming around me. But CAN I?!?!  

A couple of weeks ago I had a thought. God shows us itty bitty sparks of light-- if we CHOOSE to see them. As I was walking my faithful old dog lady, I took my little iPhone phone and took an upclose pix of a flower. The next day, another flower. The next day, a leaf with rain drops on it!  These simple pleasures have brought me immense joy, as I see the gifts that are around me.... If I chose to see them. :).  

What little joys will we see if we open our grief filled eyes?  

What "good" things have you learned through your tragedy?  
Lets see.... Maybe your core values are clearly defined?  
Maybe you know who your "real" friends are!  
Maybe you appreciate your loved ones more?  
Maybe you have made new life altering and lasting friendships?

Stop and think about what you are learning through the pain. You can still think of your child that has been ripped from you too-- but just take a moment and shift gears. Just for a moment. Make a list. It's my personal challenge to you. 

I dare each of you to email to me what you've learned. Privately and anonymously. 

Hugs mamas!  Tootsies on the ground. Every day!  Keep on....  I'm proud of each of you as you continue to try to redefine normal.