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, December 2, 2017

Christmas 2017 notes

For the second year in a row, I have been selfish. I have written very little for this blog. Why? It is challenging to explain but I truly have turned the page. Last month I was honored to be invited for the second year to participate in a medical mission trip in Guatemala. Last year, while I was in Guatemala holding a small child after surgery, I realized an extraordinarily great thing. I realized how proud that Logan would be of me for making the decision to live. Even more importantly, I was proud of myself. 

As the holidays approach, I have not wanted to write about grief. I have been busy being actively thankful after my fathers recent serious injury. As i have sat at his bedside in Louisiana, i have had moments of fear and dread because i do fear the day when i lose my folks.   Thankfully, he is successfully jumping this current hurdle.  See- When you have had your core shaken, you can become even more sensitive and fearful for other losses. 

As I looked at some of my previous notes, I found the following email that I had written a few years ago.  

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 are 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 who 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 that the BIG invisible elephant is 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 a dangerous place. 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*)

 I will end with a positive note... THIS is what I try to focus on during the holidays. I focus on the incredible gift that 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’ present and Christmas future. This season in my life is filled with thankfulness, contentment, and joy. It has taken years but 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 am finally learning how to grieve forward. Deeply thankful for our loving Gods continuous gifts and for all of the people who i love who are here with me now. Hang in there friends....  I firmly believe in Hope for grieving mothers. 

Pamela Parker 








Monday, October 9, 2017

The garage and memories 

I always get nervous and anxious when I sort through my past life- when I had children and when I was married. So many things have changed in the last ten years. 

Ten years ago Logan died. Eight years ago I divorced his father and life became exponentially complicated as I became an empty nester and single for the first time. Three years ago I became brave enough to purchase another house. Although this was the fifth house that I purchased, it was the first home that I had purchased one alone. When I did this, i will confess that I was frightened. Change is often challenging for a griever. When I moved, I had minimal assistance sorting through the 25 years of memories that were packed in boxes. Those boxes made me anxious. So they sat in my garage... Lots of them. Shoved into the corner and to the side. Mixed with lawn tools and painting supplies. 

Three years have passed and I have become comfortable quickly exiting the garage after parking my car. A few times friends have helped me slowly thin the boxes down, but too many boxes and memories remained in my garage. 

As my life is moving forward with my sweetheart, I knew that it was time to face these boxes. It was time to face these memories. When he mentioned last week that we should clean out the garage before winter, I immediately began to feel anxious. 

When he arrived at my house, he gently directed me towards a pile of unknown memories in a stack of boxes. I scratched and scratched and my heart was racing. Whenever I looked at these boxes and pondered over opening up unexpected memories and emotions, I felt my heart race and became nauseated.  I could not focus and I just wanted to run. I certainly looked crazy. Actually, I was crazy.  

In the middle of the scratching, I surprised myself when I found a few pleasant treasures. I was absolutely delighted when I discovered old photos of all of my children. Not just my deceased kid, but my other two children, who I love more than I can adequately express. I found works of art created by my oldest son and also by my daughter. I smiled as I remembered being a mom to all THREE of my children. I found so many treasures that were unexpected! This garage sorting chore allowed me to remember Logans LIFE- his life with his siblings as well as their lives! After all, he WAS here on this earth for 17 years. 

Last Thursday, the garage was sorted, cleaned, and organized. I am so thankful that my sweetheart was in charge. I clung to him when I was overwhelmed with emotion and also when I found one of the many treasures of my children that I wanted to share with him. 

Our grief and these tragedies of life can pile up and we can avoid it... for years, like I did. Eventually, we must make peace with our past and our lives as a whole in order to make room for the present. To make room for the newness of Gods bounty. To make room for our future on this earth. Why? For this is the best way to honor our deceased children.... the best way to honor them is to live a life on this earth that would make them proud.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Escaping from Alcatraz

Five years ago, my folks and I went on an adventure to San Francisco. It was the second time that I have traveled with my parents all alone as a grown up daughter on a trip.... Just me as a grownup and them as my parents. This is personal time that I will treasure for ever. 

During this trip to San Francisco, we visited the famed Alcatraz. Alcatraz is an old prison known for being a tough horrible place. It has not had prisoners in many years. It is a huge tourist attraction because of the historical value. It feels like stepping back into time...

We had been in SF for two days before our scheduled trip to this famed island. For these two days we could view this landmark from almost anywhere in the area. By the time it was "our turn" to jump onto that boat carrying us out there, we had viewed it from many vantage points in the city- From the Golden gate bridge...From the pier...From the top of the city.

As part of the Alcatraz  tour, they described how torturous it would be for the prisoners to hear "normal" life on the busy piers occurring as the breezes carried their voices to the island. Those prisoners could hear "life" going on-- just outside of their reach-- but they could not participate.

No one asked to go to Alcatraz. It was a prison and they had been sentenced. Eventually, some of these prisoners served their sentences and left that island.

I began to see that grief has many similarities to Alcatraz. No one asked to go to that prison. It was a dark and lonely place at times. From the island of grief, we can see the rest of the world that goes on around us. We are JUST far enough that we sometimes cannot participate.

Also, I began to think about how we escape from grief. How do we try to leave that island? What are our individual coping mechanisms?  Because we are humans, our individual responses will be different.

-Sometimes we make huge life changes quickly to escape the island of grief.  

-If our spouse dies then we may jump into a relationship quickly. Quick escapes. 

-Alcohol is a frequent escape that many use to try to leave the island of grief.

-Maybe we move. Change jobs. Anything to try to relieve the stress and try to ESCAPE.

Allow me to tell you something else new and interesting that I learned about Alcatraz. It is a really beautiful but rocky island. When it was a prison, the warden, guards, and their families actually lived on the island. They were able to fully use and enjoy the island of Alcatraz. There are exotic birds and flowers. It was a great and happy place to these people who were not sentenced to live immobilized behind the bars of the famed prison.

When I was first sentenced to the island of grief. I was afraid. I cannot say that I have completely served my sentence... I am uncertain if the sentence is ever completely over. I CAN tell you that I am no longer confined to the prison walls and I can see the quiet beauty of the island.... Today and most days. Although for everything there is a season...  

Do not try to prematurely escape from your Alcatraz. You will eventually have more freedom from your grief. One day you will look over and realize just how far you have come. 



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

And so it goes... another birthday soon

So- I essentially suck as a blogger. I am not totally technologically dumb but I am now forced with a new learning curve. The iPhone app for my blog is now too old and could not be updated. I had to find a new one. It recently published an old blog I had been reading. Sigh. So-What's been going on?


I could feel it trembling from inside. It had been a long time since I have felt this vulnerable and afraid. As I laid in bed, exhausted from a week filled with meetings and life, it was now Friday evening. As I sat in the silence, I could feel it coming. I have finally taken "control" in my life and now I am about to let it swallow me? I was sobbing. Blah. This is far from control. 

Now it is Saturday. No plans are made and I am anxious. My significant other asks if I would like to come to his house. Well- no. I want to stay at my house. I like my little respite house. My perspective is limited to only mine. I am tired and frustrated. I just want to scream... and I cannot exactly tell you why. But I am tired. Why do I feel this bad?! I have been a faithful person doing my grief work!!  

How do you celebrate the 10th anniversary of your child's last birthday? What makes this one so special?

Over the last ten years, one thing that I have become good at is understanding predictability. At least I thought.... ha. 

I always advise for mothers to prepare for triggers and important days. I realized this about five years ago when I tried to work on Logans birthday. Certain this would be fine... I was very wrong. Example: I needed to call report on a patient, so I called three different telephone numbers before I landed on the right unit. Our brains needs a little lag time on these special days. 

So, currently, I am practicing the art of patience. I am rereading my own words of advice. I am crying... a lot... surprisingly. I even cried during my mani and pedi. I finally decided to go stay at my significant others home on Sunday. We did life together that day- which included grocery shopping and planning. He noticed my sorrow and constantly tried to make me laugh - without tremendous success. I did feel much better with his ever present support. I love him for many reasons- but his unconditional support has extra value. 

So- just a few days until the "big" day. Interestingly, I wonder if Logan were alive- would even notice that his 27th birthday would be a big deal? To a mother whose child has been ripped from her, it is a big deal. I am glad he is at home in Heaven, but redefining normal is apparently a continuous process improvement. 

Hugs to each of you as we continuously strive to redefine normal. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

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 had 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 today but was originally published in 2015. 



Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lanterns

Just a few minutes ago I lit my first Chinese lantern. I wasn't certain if the 24 degree weather would let it rise.   As I finally watched the lantern rise far into the sky, I privately and personally celebrated the brief life of what would be the second birthday of a beautiful red haired angel baby girl.... And also the anniversary of the loss of my friends grandson. Standing alone in the dark, I personally  felt peace as I remembered where these two infants-- and others-- now reside. It's a real place!!  I have prayed for these families to feel Gods comfort as they seek to continue to grieve forward. These two infants have affected so many people-- in part because of both of their mothers' desires to create change and help others. These are both amazing women. 

Reflections on birthdays-- 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.

Today is a beautiful baby's second birthday. This baby I've never met in life... When an infant's life is cut short, the birthday isn't easily celebrated. It brings up that often asked question- how do we celebrate the birthday of our child when our child has died? 

I will tell you that it has been challenging over the years. With each of my children's birthdays, I reflect on the day that they were born. I remember when my water broke and the labor process. I remember their first cries. I remember this for each individual child. 

When a child dies, sadly, their death overshadows the day that we brought them life... That wonderful joyous day that we captured in photos and videos... And sent birth announcements. This joy can't be felt because of the physical and the emotional pain of their absence. 

The birthday fills us with regrets... My friend who lost her infant daughter during birth to a genetic disorder has thought of what she could have done to prevent this genetic malformation. Regrets and questions. My friend whose daughter died on her five month birthday because of a mitochondrial disorder has these same thoughts as well. Whether you had the knowledge of impending death in the ICU at Riley, or if your child died due to horrific situational reasons, it is still impossible to fully celebrate their life when they didn't have the chance to be here with us for very long. 

I remember browsing the sympathy card aisle at hallmark looking for cards appropriate for an infants death and reading "be thankful for the memories". It seemed that so many cards said this and kinda made me angry. Not at hallmark, but at life. I left there and had a little sad crying session for my friend who didn't have these memories. The whole thing was unjust. It made no sense. Babies and children are not supposed to die. All of this is soooo very true. 

So back to the sweet baby who I only met after her death... I've heard her infectious giggle via a recording and I'm thankful to have it saved on my phone/computer. I've looked at the healthy little cheeks in photos and the smiles that she had with her sister. I've looked at the photos of a family with a mommy and a daddy and a big sister filled with smiles... I honor this family as they have tried so very hard to redefine normal in the midst of this tragedy. Her family has chosen to celebrate her birthday by releasing balloons or Chinese lanterns. This precious life that had far too few memories because of the short time in which she was here-- needs to be remembered. My prayer is that one day the pain of the "what might have beens" will not be so intense. 

"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable." -- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

God bless each and every one of you mamas, daddies, siblings, and families as you continue to put your feet on the floor and redefine normal.... As we DAILY remember our children who have had their earthly lives cut short. Hugs... 

Note: If you have lost a child due to SIDS, you may find comfort in Mason's Cause. Mason is my friends grandson. Www.masonscause.org. 

Hugs to each of you!  

Pamela. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Meltdown

Thursday evening, I had a meltdown. After an overwhelming few minutes of life's challenges,  I sat on my bathroom floor and sobbed alone.... and had my private meltdown.   I sobbed for Logans siblings and the many losses that they have experienced. I sobbed for the lives that have been forever altered.  I sobbed for life's changes that I could not control.  I sobbed because I miss the child who is buried in Tennessee.

On that traumatic day when Logan was buried, I distinctly remember a plea from a close friend during a private moment-   "Promise me that you will not let this change you. Do not let this make you bitter".  Although I was emotionally and physically numb, I listened to the urgency in her voice.  My only response was -  "Ok." 

I have become acutely aware that horrible things eventually happen to everyone.  It has been 9 and a half years since my Logan died in front of me. My life has taken many tragic and unreversable turns since that day. I certainly have wept more than I could ever have imagined was possible. 

Anyone in the first stages of losing a child will often wonder how you can possibly live without constantly sitting on the floor and sobbing. Fortunately, this is now a rare occurrence for me. 

The day after my meltdown,  I had the honor of caring for a patient who is in the end stages of her metastatic cancer. She is my age. Her smile, words, and gratitude touched me. This patient unknowingly redirected me towards my usual perspective. 
Life on this earth is short. Celebrate. Celebrate every day.  Celebrate everything. 

My grief for him has slowly changed as I now strive to honor him with my actions and my attitude of gratitude. The loss of my child has finally allowed me to more fully recognize my blessings. 

So, my dear friend Mary, I must admit....  I have changed... and I think you would be proud