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, 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.