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, December 5, 2018

Tips for Surviving Christmas

It is the holiday season.... as we all know. We can try to "skip Christmas" - I have tried this myself but I have been unsuccessful.  In my opinion, what is more effective is to create a plan for how to cope with this extra vulnerable time of the year. The fact that your child will not be here during the holidays is often the big elephant in the room that few will acknowledge. 

Conserve your energy - especially during this time of year. Although you will be tired, purposefully select what events are the most important to you... Or attend nothing. Do not be disappointed in yourself if you feel that you "cannot” do what you have done in the past. Every year will be different. Be kind to yourself. 

Purchase a kit from the craft store to make SOMETHING for your living children. Maybe an ornament.... Focus your mental and physical energy on the people who you love who are still living. It will show them that you love THEM too.... Our living children are suffering as well.

Purchase a small Christmas tree and spend time searching for the "perfect" ornaments in memory of your child. I used Logan's hat as the tree topper and filled this tree with a colts ornament, a wrigley field ornament, football ornaments, etc. It gave me purpose and something to DO for Logan (his memory) while Christmas shopping. The small tree was a table top tree that I kept in his room. I actually kept this tree up for several months. 

When I did this, it surprised me when my teenager daughter also requested a tree in her room.  I bought a white tree and filled it with ornaments to match her room. It is common for children to feel somewhat jealous of their deceased sibling. This time of the year, they become more acutely aware of the change in their family as well. Do not be "fake" happy but instead, acknowledge the feelings together. You are teaching your children how to grieve... Regardless of their age.

Acknowledge that the holidays will forever be changed.... So change your traditions. If you always opened up presents on Christmas Eve, then consider doing it at a different time. Try to take whatever big traditions your family has and shake it up.

Everyone is going to try to "make you happy". Be prepared with your words as you teach them to grieve. They will not understand your expectations or feelings unless you tell them... Or unless they are thrown into this situation - and we would not wish this on anyone. Ever! When they ask how you are, do not always feel the need to say "fine." It's acceptable to say, "I am trying hard but this is tiring." Or "I am sick of hearing Christmas music."

The first Christmas, I created a plan to carve out time for our family to remember Logan. I bought a large decorative platter and filled it with about 20 assorted sizes of white candles. One night prior to Christmas, we all met as a family around the coffee table and took turns lighting a candle. Each person told a story about Logan... Funny and stupid and serious stories.  Sure, we all cried, but we also LAUGHED.  Most importantly, the pressure release of the tension felt good and was definitely healthy.  

Do something special quietly in memory of your child. The money that you spent at Christmas on your child, use it to donate $$ for charities (such as when the clerk says "would you like to donate a dollar to help support the homeless mission?" I usually will say yes.... "In memory of Logan" ). Or.... You could adopt a family for Christmas.

I tried to open my eyes and realize that Christmas and Thanksgiving is actually a SAD holiday for many people.  Pause and notice that a LOT of people are in a funk and also sad. What can you do to help them? Giving to others, even with kind words, will help you feel better. In reality, people are often  feeling inadequate as they struggle to purchase presents for their children, they may be missing a member of their family too, they may need employment, or they may just feel inadequate and sad as they compare their holidays to the expectations that society holds up for holidays.

Most importantly, I focused on the REASON for the season. Heaven is a REAL place. It is where Jesus actually LIVES.... With our children too. I think of the wonderful gift of the Christ child and how he was sent here so all of us can have eternal life in Heaven. This is not a new thought or concept. We KNOW that the reason for Christmas. Now that my child is there, I feel deep appreciation and value of this gift like I had never felt previously.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

One holiday down and one to go...

Early this morning, i was thinking of a dear friend who i rarely have the opportunity to see. She has been a member of the mama club for many years and has been very impactful in my own healing with her experience and advice.  Ironically, it made me smile when our paths crossed later in the day.  Then i ran into another sweet friend which reminded me that I needed to share a few of the Holiday posts which I have written. 

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 hits the spot for myself as well. 

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 is absent. 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.  Anger is a much more comfortable emotion than sorrow. 

- 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.  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).

Sending prayers of comfort and hugs to each of you. 

Pamela Parker


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

This week I have reflected on my most memorable thanksgiving. My children and husband had made the journey to Tennessee to see my (now ex) husbands family. Prior to the meal, I went to Logan’s gravesite. It was the first thanksgiving that I would spend without him. As i approached his gravesite, I fell on my knees sobbing. It was now almost four months after his death and I could not reconcile the fact that he had died. I sobbed and sobbed with my entire body as I kneeled on a large towel that I had brought in anticipation for this visit. It was a cold drizzly day and it felt that way in my entire world. Everything was gray. I did not like this place, emotionally or physically, but it is where I had been placed. I believed that this was my life’s destiny- gray. 

That day, everyone tried to make me smile and appreciate the present, but i could not find even one morsel of joy. I felt as though I would never find joy again. 

Today, is Thanksgiving 2018. I will only have one of three of my children with me. I do not have a significant other. My knees are hurting after a long and busy two weeks at work. I have mounds of leaves outside of my house and chores not completed. Life is certainly not perfect.

This is the first year that I have been eagerly anticipating thanksgiving. Today will be casual with my parents, my daughter and son in law with their child, and a few close friends. The people I love will be with me.

So today I am so very thankful that even though there are various health issues and sorrows for most of the people who will be with me today, I can celebrate that we are together. There might never be another day like today and I intimately know how quickly life can change. Today the sun is shining through the windows of my warm home and life is filled with peace. I can look back at the past and be thankful of the present- of where I am in life. Today I can reflect on Thanksgivings past and feel deep gratitude. Everyone has a different path out of the gray and dark world of grief. There truly is hope for grieving people- and I am celebrating this today. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Grief pioneer

Because I am a mother, a nurse, and a human being-- I want to comfort those who are uncomfortable. This is my personal nature, which it true with many people. We want to fix the broken. We want to dry tears. We want to 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 developmental age. Recently, I observed adults trying to comfort a newly grieving child with a piece of cake. This was not 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 simply ssid,  "cry. It is ok. It will make you feel better. I will stay right here with you and keep you safe.  This is a safe place to relax and cry.”  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 is 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 did not feel safe and comforted. The little girl who was a grief pioneer and whose sacrifice has taught me so much. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Story of Hope For Grieving Mothers- Part One

People create blogs for a variety of reasons. This blog was not started as therapy to help myself by writing my thoughts. Instead it happened because of a series of events that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Since i began to write publicly, it has been important for me to focus on the hope and Healing that CAN occur after the devastating loss of your child. 

Now, I have decided that I will finally publicly share portions of my very private story and personal journey.  

After Logan died, I was a mess. I could not eat or sleep or think clearly. The “nurse” part of my life was obsessed with trying to understand how he died. The “mother” side of me was completely destroyed. In the beginning I felt numb. After a few weeks the numbness left and my entire body hurt all the time. I had no idea that grief could be so physically painful.

Logan stopped breathing at home after an outpatient surgery. I did rescue breathing and then full CPR on the floor of my living room. No one really understood how Logan died for four months, which is how long it took for us to receive a death certificate. You cannot measure the oxygenation status of a dead person. For the record, he died from complications of sleep apnea- CO 2 narcosis.

Anyway, life was bad. The Previous Pamela constantly strived for control in her life and environment. The After Pamela became a person who did not sleep for nine months with zero control of anything. Literally- I could not sleep more than an hour or two at a time. I craved and longed for sleep. The days were long and the night were longer. Painfully quiet. Thoughts of Logan constantly oozed out of my pores. 

I have read that the death of a loved one can be described as an amputation of your soul. At that time, I was not certain that I could live through the pain. I sought out people who had also lost children. I constantly asked them “What can i do to make it better?!” No one had answers. I could not live in that place forever... I just could not. I felt like I was dropped into a dark and foreign land, where no one spoke the language and I was all alone. 

At the four month point, I called into work to let them know I was sick. It was the first and only time that i did this after Logan was ripped from me. My coping reserves and mechanisms were gone... Completely depleted. My friend Jennifer took the call at work. She said - “let me make a phone call and I will call you back.” She made an appointment for me to see a counselor that evening. She came to my home and picked me up. She drove me there. She sat next to me, when I frighteningly had few tears. She held my hand and sobbed for me and eventually with me. She then drove me home. 

See- Jennifer loved me as a friend SOOOO much that she did not TELL me what to do... She took me by the hand and led and guided me. My friend Jennifer intimately knew grief and loss. She had desperately longed for a baby. She endured many fertility treatments and was eventually ecstatic to learn that they were pregnant with triplets. In one day everything changed when she lost all three of these babies. Jennifer intimately knew grief because she had also experienced the devastation of loss. 

At this time in their lives, they had been trying to adopt a child for over a year.

On the way home that night, I said to Jennifer, “Wouldn’t it be nice if God was planting a seed tonight for you to have a baby?” We both quietly smiled as we pondered at this thought. 

Fast forward several months... Through a series of unusual and “ironic” events, Jennifer and her husband had been given the opportunity to adopt an infant. 

Guess when Baby William was born?! Baby William was born exactly nine months and one day after my Logan’s death. 

Ponder over this statement- At the exact same time that I was experiencing unfathomable sorrow, our very loving God was planting a seed for one of my dear friends to experience unfathomable joy.

I firmly believe that this was not ironic. I believe that the timing of his birth was a gift from our loving God to comfort and show me.... “Pamela. You cannot understand My plan. You simply cannot understand. Your son is safe. This puzzle is WAY bigger than you can imagine.” This was one of the moments that I felt God’s comforting hand during my sorrow. 

It was at this point that things began to change for me. I began to see that there really might be hope for this grieving mother. 

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14

Stay tuned for Part Two 😘

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Today I am mad...

Today I am mad. Yes, I am thoroughly mad. Being angry is an unusual emotion for me to feel.

Although I have taken good care of my teeth, I have cracked a tooth and have developed an abscess. The left side of my mouth is painfully swollen and I have discovered that this tooth cannot be saved. I did everything I was supposed to do to take care of my teeth, but still a tooth is dying. And quite honestly I am just mad.

After much thought, I recognize that the reality of the situation is that I am scared and sad. Anger is a much more comfortable emotion than fear and sorrow.

I am certainly not comparing my tooth drama with the death of my child, but this is a great example of how anger is much more comfortable than sorrow. I have known people who have spent so much time being angry that it became their most comfortable emotion. They never embraced the healing that can happen when you feel and experience authentic and deep sorrow. No one wants to grieve and sorrow is miserable

About tears-

There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but strength of will. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand words ever could. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. Tears are the messengers of a heart that cries out.

It is my belief that every time you lose yourself in tears and sobbing, the next time you will not stay as long and you will not go as deep. Tears are a gift and help us heal. If only everyone knew how hard it is to do these tasks. The scariest time for myself was when I could no longer cry. If you find yourself at this place, please seek the guidance of a professional counselor. I was blessed with great people who intermittently guided me out of the darkness. One of the keys to this journey is to wipe your tears, stand up, and continue to grieve forward... every single day. 

Friends, I have been trying to write these thoughts for several months. This is personally a very emotional topic for me because I have been the target of intense anger and unresolved grief. I have needed to step back and understand these thoughts and emotions. 

Our children have died and this is forever life altering and scary. It is also life altering for each member of our family. It would be so much more helpful if everyone grieved at the same pace and in the same way!! Devastation is the only word that applies to the loss of our children. For this reason, I hold onto these words- “The Lord will give strength unto his people. The Lord will bless his people with peace.” Ps 29:11

I have experienced the truth that there is hope for a better future- a future which is filled with peace. It is important that we redefine normal in our lives and hold onto the mantra to “grieve forward”. Wishing this peace could be passed along to everyone else, but we each must have our own journey through the darkness in order to experience the joy. 

My tooth drama will continue for a few months but it will eventually resolve, as well as my fear. In some ways, i can breathe and recognize the true definition of a bad day. This is not fun, but, no one died. After all this is just an inconvenience of life… Because we are living.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Country Fried Steak, Forget Me Nots, and Deb

Today is my day off. Today is also Logan’s 28th birthday. Mother’s Day and Logan’s birthday are always close together. For this reason, I have been very irritable and grouchy lately, so it has not been a stellar few days. 

Because this is my only day off I had much to accomplish. I wanted to stay in bed in the dark and close off the world but I had so much I needed to do today. 

After lunch and planting my forget me not plants from my friend Jane, I traveled to an appointment. Driving home, I decided to stop at a local restaurant.  I could not stop thinking about Logan’s favorite- country fried steak. This restaurant has it on the menu.

The waitress approached my table and said- “Hi. My name is Deb. What can I get you to drink tonight?”  Then she unexpectedly sat down and said- “What can I get for you that will make you smile?”  I said- “Oh my goodness. I needed that today.” Then I burst into tears. It is a rare occurrence that I cry. The tears surprised both of us. After she whipped up my margarita, I thanked her again and explained that it is Logan’s birthday. She then told me about her Angel who was stillborn on March 11, twenty six years ago.

As I sat in the restaurant alone I realized that this sweet Deb was sent to me to comfort me. She hugged me as we realized that we are sisters in the club that no one asks to join. 

All of this made me smile because I finally released those tears which had been stuck inside of me and that our very loving God sent this sweet lady to connect with me... to comfort me. 

Today I remembered Logan’s birth. I remembered Logan as a child and a teen.  I cried as I reflected on the what might have been. I bonded with an unexpected mama and she comforted ME. I learned about her daughter Angel and that March 11 will now always be significant for me. And I had country friend steak and cake. I planted forget me nots. And I smiled.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Box of Memories

Next to my fireplace are three decorative boxes. They have been inconspicuously holding the notes, cards, and "other memorabilia" of Logan's death. Because these boxes are now over 10 years old and are looking ratty, I recently picked up three new decorative boxes. I have been procrastinating this little project of sorting through the "other memorabilia". It was the "other memorabilia" that can make me anxious. Logan's death certificate, his birth certificate, and remembrances of his funeral are all stark reminders that he had been painfully ripped from our lives on this earth. 

Yesterday was the day. I sat in the middle of my living room floor and emptied out the contents of these boxes. As I began to sort, I smiled as I read the cards and letters from long time friends and family. I began to feel the comfort and love that had been sent to our family in those early painful and foggy days. Additionally, I was reminded that a few special people continued to send us cards throughout that first year. One lovely lady sent cards for each of the "first" holidays- she had also lost a child many many years ago.  

There was comfort inside each and every card. Some of the cards were simple and some of these cards were elaborate. Some of the cards had entire letters of encouragement written inside and some only had the senders name. The comfort did not come from the carefully worded or elaborate verbiage in the cards. Instead, it came from the fact that friends and strangers took time out of their busy lives to share our sorrow and send us love. I especially treasured the notes where the sender had shared their favorite fun memories of Logan's life. The common theme in these cards is that the sender cared for our family and shared a thread of our sorrow as they were also deeply saddened for our loss... for Logan’s death.

As I opened up the boxes of memories, I was relieved when I did not experience the feeling of anxiety and sorrow. I did not relive the angst of the trauma and drama of Logan’s death. Yesterday I moved the contents of the ratty boxes to their new home. I was able to relax, breathe, and smile as I sorted through these cards. These cards are tangible remnants of love, support, and empathy from the senders. The prayers of comfort that we received so long ago were answered again today when LOVE over powered. 

Side note and Tip- When opening each card, I cut off the return address from the envelope and taped these onto the back of the card. This made the cards more accessible to read and reread and eliminated the bulk of the envelopes.