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, December 31, 2015

Life's tragedies continue.... What NOT to say

This has been a devastating weekend for our local Indiana community. In one accident, four young people slipped away quickly. This is tragic and had shocked any of us. 

I have several close friends who have lost loved ones very publicly.  What do we do?  What do we say?

Read these very insightful words written by my teenage friend Alli. Alli's brother Garrett was suddenly ripped from her family's life a few years ago. I am so very proud of her as she has worked very hard to deal with the challenges that were suddenly tossed in front of her. 

Allie has a solid grasp on knowledge that we can ALL use.... The top ten things Not to say!   I honor Alli for who she is and how she has been redefining normal in her life!  

Hugs to Alli and each of you!

Alli writes:

Time heals everything 
Your loved one is in a better place 
I know how you feel
Everything will be okay 
It all happened for the best
It's time to put this behind you 
Be strong
Move on 
At least he or she didn't suffer 
Don't cry

That is my top 10 list of things that I hate to hear. A lot of people do not know what to say when someone close to you dies. It's hard for teenagers to hear these things. My brother past away when I was 13 and he was 17. There are a lot of things people told me that I did not want to hear and it hurt me to have people saying them to me. 

The one thing I heard the most is that time heals everything. I have to say that  time does not heal everything. My brother passed away on June 23, 2010. It's been 3 years since the accident and time does NOT heal everything. The past 3 years have been the hardest years of my life. 
In these last 3 years I have learned more about myself then I ever have before. 

Time does not heal everything but time DOES make things easier. In the last few months I have been learning what my new life looks like without my brother. Redefining a normal life without one your loved one can be really hard and a lot of work, but it is possible. 

When someone tells you,  "It's time to put this behind you," it's hard  to hear. When you are ready to move on then you will. Don't let other people make that decision for you. You will never completely move on, but you will learn how to cope with the loss of your loved one.

I want other teenagers who have lost a loved one to know that they are not alone in this long grieving journey and that no one has the right to tell you what you should be feeling.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

New Twist on Holiday Magnifying Glass

A few years I wrote this article.  As I looked at some of my previous notes, I found the following email that I wrote a few years ago.  It is good advice and hits the spot for myself as well. As for me--  today is a new day and I believe that I have turned the page. I'm blessed with love around me and I am trying to find the positive in this season.  Here it goes.....

So I have had a lot of thoughts, as always... this is what is most recently on my mind.  

Last year-- 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, 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!"

That was a few years ago. The following note was a few years down the road. 

My first Thanksgiving and Christmas without Logan are still 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 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?

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 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 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*)

As always, I am open to hearing your thoughts, suggestions, and writings. If you have something that you would like to share with this growing group of mamas, please 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 floor... 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 reunited family).

Now--  today, I celebrate Christmas future. This new season in my life is filled with contentment and joy. When I think of Logan, I think of his LIFE.... Not as much his death. I know that Logan would be proud of me as I believe that I'm

finally learning how to grieve forward. Deeply thankful for our loving Gods continuous gifts.   

Hugs girls....

Pamela Parker 


Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Christmas tree is up...

Today I was brave. I pulled out my Christmas tree and decorated it with my (now adult) children's handmade ornaments. I found a tucked away treasure from Logan.  My stomach was queasy and I thought I might even throw up. Still, I needed to do this. 

This is my second attempt at Christmas. Last year, after many years of "skipping Christmas", I decided to put up a tree. Why?  I didn't wanna be "nana Scrooge" to my grand babies. Two close friends came to my house and walked me through the painful task of sorting through Christmas decorations and ornaments.  They listened to me curse the holidays and cried with me as I sat on the floor weeping. 

Christmas used to be different. I made ornaments for coworkers, candy and cookies with my children, and created memories by reading the Advent Book. I was the typical American mom. That was before...

Then Logan died. We created many special things that first year or two, and then the next wave of secondary losses began to occur. 

For five years I avoided Christmas...At least I tried. 

Today I had an "ah ha moment." I sat and listened to my pregnant daughter tell her husband about her favorite Christmas memories.  "Remember those candies that you made that we all loved?" I smiled as I listened to her reminisce. My daughter explained "we paused Christmas for a few years."  

Today is no longer about the child and brother that was lost and the painful memories of a family's future that was irrevocably changed. 

Today we turned the page.

My children deserve this new era of creating new memories... with husbands and babies and laughter and Santa.  My children deserve this new era- This new era of Christmas future.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween thoughts.

Halloween was one of the first holidays after Logan died. I always enjoyed family time, but this holiday was especially painful. Fortunately, this sensitivity that I felt towards Halloween has dulled.  These are my thoughts from many years ago:

As I flip through the television channels, the programming is filled with Halloween themed movies and horror flicks. 

When Logan died, I was sickened when my neighbor put up a pretend "graveyard" in their front yard. I remember my exhusband saying, "so we must look at THIS for a month?!y stomach churned  every time I saw that fake little graveyard. 

Seeing graveyards - cemeteries- are not funny or spooky to us.  They unfortunately have become part of our lives and those ridiculous "RIP" fake headstones can be insulting.  I could find no humor in a fake graveyard. It made my stomach churn. 

Stop for just a minute... Until your child died, you probably didn't HATE Halloween or the silly haunted houses. Unless they have experienced the loss and tragedy that we've experienced, they will not understand that death isn't funny. Be patient sisters... It's almost over. It's ok to not pass out candy but i challenge you to also remember the joy of the little sweeties that say "trick or treat".

The complexity of our feelings FEW will understand. Certainly we are thankful that everyone does not know the pain of losing a child and visiting cemeteries and becoming so intimately familiar with death and grief.

Hang in there girls.... Halloween is almost over. Focus on the beauty of the colors and beauty of the leaves as autumn demonstrates it's glory. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Toys and Candy and little minds

Because I am a mother, a nurse, and I human being-- I want to comfort those who are uncomfortable. This is my nature along with most of us. We want to fix the broken. We want to dry tears. We wanna make people happy.  

I have an adult friend who has taught me so much about grief by sharing her own childhood experience. When she was six years old, she came home from school and there were a lot of people in her house with gifts of toys and candy. She found it to be very odd.  Then her father brought her into the other room and told her that her mother had died. Pause for a moment and ponder over this question-- did the toys and candy make her feel better?

In my own life, I have experienced watching several different children who are learning that a loved one has died. Remember that children think and process ideas in their minds differently depending on their age. Recently, I observed adults trying to comfort a newly grieving child with a piece of cake. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing because we want to comfort others. We do not want them to cry or to be sad. (Side note-- How many of us use food for comfort when we are sad?) 

Anyway-- I introduced myself to the little girl and said  -- "tell me what is happening today."  The little girl sobbed as she spoke.  I said "cry. It's ok. It'll make you feel better.  I'll stay right here with you and keep you safe."  The little girl continued to sob.  I quietly asked "would you like a hug?"  She nodded and jumped into my lap, holding me tight. I told her that I was also a "nana" and i would hold her for as long as she wanted me to hold her. We were very quiet for a long time. She needed this time to sob.  Eventually the crying stopped and I asked  "are you scared?"  She nodded yes. I said "it's ok to be scared.  I promise that I am going to keep you safe.  Can you tell me what makes you scared?"  

As this dialogue continued the little girl allowed me to understand that she was confused and did not understand the situation.  She told me what she had observed.  Side note-- Remember that little ones do not really understand death and often have  elements of "magical thinking."  

This immediate situation was eventually resolved.  Crying DOES help. Tears are our friend. It is very important to use simple words but to also be honest. 

Personally-- I remember being surprised and shocked when I was I tossed into this frightening foreign world of grievers. The foundation of my world had been shattered.  I wanted to be swallowed up by the earth because I was so very very afraid.  I am thankful for all that I have learned through my own personal journey. I detest delivering bad news, but I am thankful that I am continuing to learn how to make this experience less horrific. 

Today I am most thankful for the insight that I have learned from the six year old who is now an adult-- The little girl who received toys and candy along with horrible life altering news. The little girl who didn't feel safe and comforted. The little girl who was a grief pioneer and whose sacrifice has taught me so much. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The anniversary week is getting close!

This is the anniversary month of Logan's death. Until today, July has been marching along rather nicely. I recently mentioned to a friend that every year is different and unexpected. I now personally totally detest not having control. Welcome to the life of a grieving mom!  You would think that I am NEW at this!  Truly-- I am constantly slowly understanding new concepts regarding time and grief. 
So--  this year I've been exceptionally busy as "the day" approaches. Examples-- Soon I'll be able to share an article that I've written regarding the lessons that I've learned regarding Logan's death. It's being published in a major nursing magazine the last week in July. THIS situation has brought me joy because I never dreamed that at the eight year point that any positive value could be manufactured from his death. We all want to find VALUE and meaning in our children's death. This is a solid truth. 

I am also working on another cause that is very important to me. I have a friend who has a child with a progressive illness who has taken a very negative turn. You will soon be seeing my heartfelt pleas for your assistance on Facebook in their gofund me account. 

So--  this sister has been busy. Very busy. I have not even listed all of my activities.  Today- Everything changed as I began to have the time to "feel" July. I hate July. It is the suckiest month of the year. It has always been (for many reasons) the worst month of the year, but Logan's death sealed it's fate. 

What should I do?  Obviously I cannot skip an entire month of the year. Although it is a fantastic concept in theory, it is absurd--  and I am confessing that I have attempted it.  In the past I've made grand attempts to sleep most of this month away. That was semi successful but in the end, I lost DAYS of my LIFE.  I TRULY feel that each day is a treasure and a blessing....  So WHAT do I do?!  How do I freaking cope?!

Suggestions- Today I ran errands with a friend while enjoying laughter and friendship. We each had a massage and later I briefly visited another dear pal. Seeing a few of my supportive and authentic friends has been quietly and personally encouraging. 

Several of you know that I have developed a love for specialty teas. This weekend I have made a few of my favs and have (surprisingly) ordered even more. As I sipped the tea, I savored the taste of the white ginger pear. The smell, the taste, the entire experience of making and sharing it with friends brought me joy.  

What else gives me happiness and comfort?  Listening to the birds and the rustle of the trees on my back porch. The quiet that I hear when I just SIT. I was never much of a "sitter" during silence until the past few years--  and now I consider this a gift. 

Other great pleasures-- Watching the occasional hummingbird wander over to my feeder.  Texting and having great meaningful and humorous dialogues with friends.  Telling stories about my kids--  the living ones as well as the one who died. Sunday I went to a fun concert with a pal-  Train and The Fray.   The amphitheater was filled with positive energy and was just plain fun. Also, As crazy as it sounds-- Messaging grieving mothers that there really IS hope for a better future is encouraging. I am NOT where they are NOW. I firmly believe that although my stomach is nauseated tonight and I am just not "me" tonight, there IS hope. 

It is not year one. Or two. Or five or seven--  it is it's own new year and season. A season that now understands that the occasional draining of energy is natural and IS inconvenient- but it has great purposes.   One of those important purposes is to remember--  and the remembrances of our lost child is what a mama needs to heal and is what our babies deserve. 

So--  a toast and tribute to healing and remembrances. Looking forward to July 24--  the day after the day. Thankful for each day of life and all of the friendships that are gifted to me. Please understand and recognize that MY gift to YOU is the transparency of my thoughts. Hugs and blessings to each of you. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mothers Day and a surprise

By request, I am sharing an article that I wrote two years ago. Mother's Day is hard and unexpected emotions can pop up and surprise us. This is an experience that many people feel on Mother's Day.  One mama friend explained to me earlier this week, "this was MY holiday.  This is the hardest one."  
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 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Be still....

I  always been a very busy person.  Before the "empty nest" days,  my life as a mother kept me very busy. In the past, my work life and balancing a personal life left me with very little time to just be still. 

When Logan died, everything stopped. In those first few days, my house was filled with many people. I have minimal memory of who was there and most of the events of those first few days. 

After the funeral, I was determined to be a gracious southern woman and personally write out the 250 thank you notes. It was very disturbing to me that I had no recollection of "who did what" to help me. It was also very disturbing that my memory only retrieved patches of time and events.  Oh, as an FYI-- I totally screwed up the thank you notes. Some people received two thank you notes and some of the people I totally missed writing. This was my first real experience with Teflon brain.

Anyway, because of this lack of control (on many levels!!), I found myself to be surprisingly anxious at times.  "Striving to create predictability" -- This later became an effective coping mechanism as I began to fear what would pop up and startle me. 

Back to my initial point--   I was a super busy chickadee. Then the busyness stopped. Being still and quiet was foreign to me at that time. I had always been busy, until everything in our entire family's world came to a halt. 

I have noticed that many people MUST be busy. I have a dear friend who has found coping so challenging that she either races with activities or she sleeps. Being in the PRESENT and being STILL is frightening for her. It is frightening to many of us. I remember when it was frightening to me. 

It took many years and a lot of trauma and drama, but I am thankfully at a place in my life where stillness is GOOD. Actually, segments of time with stillness and quiet are mandatory for my sanity. I have come to terms with the earthly departure of Logan.... At least with segments of this harsh reality.  

When I was initially forced into this reality, I was physically uncomfortable. No one told me how much grief physically hurts!  It is not just emotional pain but physical pain. My body was tense and tight and I was often unknowingly gritting my teeth. I even haa a patient point this out... which was a tad bit embarrassing. 

I decided to make a purposeful attempt to watch the clock as I made a personal commitment to just be STILL and stretch my achy muscles for 10 minutes. To clear my mind. To pray. To be still and to recognize that all is safe and quiet at that present moment. 

We often fear the quiet. We fear that the reality of losing a child might invade our personal and quiet space and bring us to our knees.  Of course it will, for it has already invaded every cell in your body. But, my friends... Do NOT be afraid!!  This can be an important step in the journey of healing. 

Know that EACH time you choose to enter this quiet space, you will not break down and fall apart... At least not for very long. Remember- Tears are GOOD and tears really are healing. You will not always have tears in the quiet- this I promise. Tonight I am sitting alone in the quiet on my porch as I recharge for the busy week which is ahead. 

Do not be afraid of the quiet, for in the quiet, you can find healing and peace. Be still and know....  

This article has been updated but was originally published in 2015. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Are you ready for spring?

Today I took a long walk on the trails near my home. It looked like winter but sounded like spring. The birds were twittering loudly and I felt the warmth of the sun on my face. 

Soon spring will emerge and we will begin to see new life all around us. People leave their homes to venture outside. Birds twitter everywhere.  Baby squirrels will fill my backyard. 

I've always enjoyed spring.... Well, almost always. After the death of my son, I found that the changes of the seasons could often be challenging.  That sounds so odd, doesn't it?  To not really enjoy the newness of spring?  EVERYONE, it seems, is happy during springtime. I wasn't happy. I was still stuck in the winter of my grief and in my life. I wasn't really ready for the birds to be twittering and to be faced with so much...  joy. Grrrrrr. 

It has been 7 years and almost 8 months since my Logan died. I firmly believe that "time" does not make grief better.  Instead, I believe that it is what you "do" with that time that creates a path towards healing. I believe you must do your grief work in order to move forward. 

When I speak about grief, I often mention that there are seasons in your grief. One of the seasons that I often mention is winter. It is cold and has very little sunlight. It is often a dark (physically and metaphorically) time of our lives. It does has an important purpose. Winter allows us the opportunity to be still.... ponder..... and think while we nest in our homes. It is a time for healing and restoring our souls.

Anyway--  today I felt the sun on my face and a lift in my spirit when I heard those birds while I took that long walk. Several years ago it would not have felt as refreshing. 

Be patient with yourselves as this season of winter comes to a close and spring begins. The calendar of seasons moves FAR FASTER than the seasons of grief. When you feel grumpy, breathe and stretch. Grievers do not accept change as well as we have in the past. 

One final note-- my new home is near the Indianapolis Colts Practice facility. My son Logan was a gigantic Colts fan. I smiled when I walked behind this large blue building with a painted horseshoe. HE would be so very proud of me for pushing forward  -- after the horrific devastation of losing a child. The seasons of grief can change, girls. I promise that they can. 

Know and believe that it IS possible to have joy again.  Hang in there girls.   Be patient with yourselves....

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Blue polo shirt-- which interrupted my nap

It's Saturday afternoon and I have laid down for a nap. After crawling into bed, I noticed that my closet door is open.... A light blue polo shirt is peering out among my other hanging clothes. This shirt-- and the memory that is tagged along with it -- made me smile.  I haven't worn this shirt in a while. It is my Logan's shirt. 

I began to think of the memory triggers that bring Logan to my mind.  Because Logan has never lived in THIS house, it is often seeing an item that was his that brings forth a memory. The memories are often triggered from something I hear, see, smell, taste, or feel.

Recently, my tiny grand baby was suddenly and critically ill. My Logan's life, as well as his death, was quietly brought to all of our minds during this frightening time. Actually, it was mostly the unpleasant memories--  the fear and knowledge of what happens when prayers aren't answered and the child slips away. In January, those were very frightening days in the pediatric ICU, as we prayed and stayed near little buddy's side. Thankfully my little grand baby is healthy once again. Prayers were definitely answered.

Time is slipping further away from when Logan was earthly present in my life. In the beginning of this grief journey, every pore in my body oozed of Logan.  Every thought was overwhelmed with thoughts of Logan. At this stage in our grief, these thoughts are "natural"--  and make a note that I'll never use the words "normal."   

Where I am now in my grief journey, I usually do not carry these memories with heaviness and a sorrowful heart.   Today, I am flooded with specific thoughts of the silliness and joy, as well as chaos, that was Logan.  That light blue shirt serves as a reminder that he WAS here.  Remembering Logan and the blue shirt can now make me smile. Thankfully, pain does not always accompany these memories any longer. 

Logan never lived in this house. His room is packed away. Also, his memories are packed away---  but now in a special way.  They are more neatly organized and stored.... like an elaborate pop up book that allows the memories to quietly fold out into 3D.... I can enjoy the beauty as they unfold for me to enjoy.  When it is time, I can then neatly tuck them away into their safe place once again....  My pop up memory book can now safely close until the next time. 

Remember that grief is a journey. I am very thankful to be at this place in my grief journey.... Today. 

Hugs, my dear friends. As always, I enjoy hearing from each of you.  


PS-  I am in the process of converting this blog into a more useable website. It is important that resources are readily available. Any help or insight is tremendously appreciated!