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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The holiday season has arrived-- and so has that big magnifying glass!!

Every holiday season is a mixed bag of emotions.  It is easy for us to be "over sensitive" to life around us. This past week, I encountered an abundance of unusually grumpy people. It is important to remember that that this is a sensitive time of the year for many other people as well. 

I wrote this statement a few years ago and it remains appropriate:  

"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, the feelings associated with that event is magnified. Holidays magnify the best in us, such as our charitable side. Holidays also 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.... Reflect on what this holiday magnifying glass shows you personally this year.  Blessings!"

My first Thanksgiving and Christmas without Logan are still so painfully memorable... for someone who was in a fog. Those who know me well know that I grieve many other losses during the holidays. The loss of your child is the "Primary Loss."  In my situation,  it is the "Secondary Losses" that I personally  grieve now.  
In speaking with many of you recently, I have noticed that many are feeling "anger" or overall agitation now. Like I have said before, NONE of these feelings are "Normal",  but all of what we are feeling is "Natural."  When the empty  chair is ignored.... It is hurtful but natural.  I believe that it is common for the BIG invisible elephant in the room to sit in the middle of the activities.

Remember-- 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?

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 enduring 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 tremendous and conflicting emotions.  We are oversensitive to people's actions and words right now. Protect yourself by taking care of YOU and your family. 

But mamas, please remember... 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 do not HAVE to make dozens of cookies.... cut down on the "celebration" part. BREATHE.... relax those shoulders down...

One of my friends who lost a child several years ago - their family 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.  This is a goal of mine one day as well. 

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 and (at the very most) two on special occasions. Cut yourself off.  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*)

Just know that this too shall pass....  This is a very important season in our lives. Also, you are not alone.... There are MANY mamas who are silently standing in the shadows supporting you. Please email me if you have questions or need additional resources. You are NOT ALONE.  Hugs and blessings to all...


Ps--  I'm planning a weekend retreat in January. Message me if you are interested. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tuesday Mornings With The Dads

One of the things that I believe is helpful is to write "the story."  The task seems daunting when you think about the amount of additional emotion that it takes to write the story.... Because it is often haunting. Truly--  It is something that you do not want to remember but you also do not want to ever forget. 

The "why's", "the what if's" and other personal survivor self torture is miserable. So, type up the story and email it to yourself--  this allows you to begin to "let go" of some of the details --- so you do not need to focus on them constantly. 

When writing, think about your senses. Our senses hold the key to very powerful memories.  What did the day FEEL like?  What did you smell?  What did you taste?  What noises happened during the story?  Our senses provide a memory that is unique to the experience and can later unexpectedly trigger anxiety.  Also--  write down the thoughts that you cannot really say out loud. In my situation, I had my own personal fight with God --  cursed and said things that were flying through my mind at times. Let it go. 

Years ago, I created a free gmail email to use as my journal and "brain escape".  Whenever I was feeling anxious and those repetitive angry and negative thoughts spun through my head, I wrote them down and emailed them to my email journal.  I sent them to the big computer in the sky. In part, slowly dismissing the irrational portions of my thinking. 

Also-- I made a personal decision to not read these emails for almost a year. When I did read them, I was surprised to see how far I had moved. It seemed like movement occurred in inches, but after reading my private earlier thoughts, I realized that I had made more progress than I had given myself credit.  

Recently, a patient mentioned to me that his son suddenly died in 2009.  As his wife quietly sat next to him, I was surprised to hear HIM talking about it. He spoke of anger and regret and the "if only's".  This surprised me because I notice that the mamas often tend to be more verbal.  He had become very comfortable talking about his sons unexpected death.  I asked this man, "what specifically helped you begin to move forward and heal?"  This man said "Tuesday Mornings with the Dad's."  I thought he was referring to the book "Tuesday mornings with morrie" I was wrong. This was new information for me so I asked him to elaborate. He explained that this book changed his life.  He explained that he later began to meet personally with the Indianapolis based group. 

"Tuesday mornings with the dad's" is a group of men who meet and support each other after they have lost a son or a daughter. 

After a few years of meeting, the group of men decided to put together a book of their stories--  from a fathers perspective. They have the specific purpose of supporting each other-- men and their grief. 

In the foreward of Tuesday Mornings With The Dad's, Tony writes about his own personal interactions with the men who authored this book. 

As many of you know, my son Logan loved the Indianapolis Colts. Three weeks after the death of Logan in 2007, the coach of the colts, Tony Dungy,  called my husbands cell phone.  Tony desired to offer support in his grief-- from one father to another. Tony also sent his new book with a personal note and a scripture written in the front of the book (it later became a best seller).  Most importantly, he left his phone number. He firmly believes that supporting each other--  in his case, one dad to another-- is critical to our healing. I now understand that this was an exceptionally kind action, considering it was only 18 months after losing his own son. 

If you are a man who is enduring the loss of a child, I encourage you to read this book. Why should you read "the stories" of their personal trauma and tragedies?!  This answer is big, so pay attention!  When listening to others who have experienced a similar path, you will often feel a sense of connectivity... This is when the lightbulb moment CAN occur!!!  At this point we can have the actual belief that there really IS hope for a different future. These men have endured trauma and tragedies and are now living their LIVES again.... After redefining normal. 

Just like my patient who lost his son, you should realize that there really CAN be life on the other side of the silence and darkness of grief.  The darkness and pain can be resolved-- only when you do your "grief work".   There truly IS hope for grieving fathers... And mothers... And families.