Mother’s Day 2021

Dear friends,

I want to offer you all a bit of encouragement today. Mother’s Day can be a tough day for many women. Women who wanted to be a mother and couldn’t, women who lost a mother, women who are grieving the death of one or more of their children, women who have children, but are estranged from them, women who are trying and waiting to become a mother. And the list goes on.

I lost my mother when I was 10 back in 1976. Mother’s Day has always been a tough one for me. As a nurse I always volunteered to work that day, or later in my career to take call for the new mom’s so they could spend the day with their new babies and families without fear of the day being interrupted. I stopped going to worship services because the obligatory sermon on Mother’s and the Proverbs 31 wife/mother was more than I could take. I have learned over the years that I get to choose how I spend the day.

Mother’s Day 2016 I choose to hike in the Grand Canyon. I started at 5:00 AM from the south rim. Hiked to the Colorado River and back out. Finishing at 7:00 PM. It was a gorgeous day and a gorgeous way to spend the day. I had no idea how different my life was to become. My oldest son passed away November 27, 2016. Had I known that it would be my last Mother’s Day with him alive would I do life differently? Perhaps. I am grateful that I didn’t know what was to come. I would have been in all out panic mode trying to change what was to come.

My son was a 911 dispatcher with a huge heart. He would probably have volunteered, and perhaps he did, to work for a coworker so she could spend the day with her children. I honestly don’t recall any more. Our lives will continue to change. If our children were still here perhaps they would have children of their own. Perhaps they’d have a job where they work weekends, perhaps they would have moved away and our Mother’s Day would look totally different. That is the way life is. And, thankfully, we don’t know the changes that are to come.

I want you all to know that even if your children are living in Heaven and not here on earth you are still their mother. You still deserve a special day of doing what you want to do. You get to choose how you spend the day. Some of you may be so new to this life that you don’t want to do anything special. That is ok. Some of you may choose to make yourself a special meal or go out for one. That is ok. You might decide to go hike the Grand Canyon, or go on a long walk or bike ride, or head to the beach. Whatever you decide to do for the day is ok. You might not want to gather with family or friends. You might find you need the comfort of being with people who understand and get you. That is ok too.

I wish for you all a peace and a day full of doing whatever it is you choose to do. On days when the memories come rushing in and I can’t stop them I may go to photos or videos and just cry for a bit and tell my son that I love him. I look for signs from him that tell me he loves me too.

Some of you might not believe in signs and that is ok. I personally, have a collection of coins, feathers and heart shaped rocks that always seem to show up when I need them most. I see a yellow butterfly and I say hi to my mom. I see an eagle and say hi to my son. I believe that our loved ones and our children can see us and send us signs that they are ok.

For a couple of years after Mike died I longed for someone to show up at my door with a child to tell me that it was Mike’s child so that I would still have a piece of him here on earth. It was my mother’s heart just wanting a bit of him. But as the years have ticked by that fantasy has faded.

As you do Mother’s Day in whatever way you choose to do it. Know whatever you decide to do for yourself this weekend is ok. It is your choice to celebrate, or not. Know it is ok to have your own back and do whatever you feel is comfortable for you. And it is ok to try out different things and different ways of getting through the tough days. You get to choose.

I wish for you a day of peace and good memories.

XOXO,

Mike’s mom

Robin

This little robin has been at this window for weeks. He flies away only to return. He sees himself in the window and flies at it and hits himself in the chest/head. As I sit working in the room next door I hear the thumps as he repeatedly flies in to the window. He will fly away but always seems to return the same bush and the same window and the cycle continues.

As I thought about this bird my first thought was he wasn’t very bright. One would think he would eventually realize that the bird in the window was himself and he would stop flying in to the window. Myself and my cats have gotten a kick out of watching him fail repeatedly. I thought what a dumb little bird. He doesn’t realize how utterly stupid he is.

Then I thought that little bird is a lot like me. For the last 4 years I was doing the same thing every night. I was sad and depressed and wanted to escape my reality. I would drink wine to numb and forget my reality. I wasn’t really expecting different results I was just not wanting to have to face life and reality of living without one of my children. I would drink wine to escape and forget about life for awhile. I kept coming back to the same thing night after night. Just like the robin keeps coming back to my window.

I would come to the same conclusions over and over again. I must have done something wrong. I must have been a lousy mother. It was my fault. Over and over I would blame myself. Like the robin I kept coming back over and over again to try to catch the bird in the window. My thoughts kept returning and coming up with the same thoughts. I was in a cycle of beating myself up, feeling lousy and drinking wine to escape hoping to wake up to a new reality, or at the very least to escape from the reality I was in .

Then one day I discovered that I wanted to figure out how to live again. I wanted to stop the numbing and trying to escape. I slowly was coming out of the fog, and I wanted to learn how to see in color again. I found a life coach and learned to feel my feelings and process those feelings. I learned it’s ok to be sad and angry even. I learned that I am in control of what I think and my thoughts drive my actions. I learned to love myself and to stop the insanity of the nightly over drinking. With the help of some very brave women I am learning how to live again.

This morning as I sat hearing the thud, thud, thud of the little bird against the window I again thought how very much this little bird is like me. . I thought today that the little robin keeps failing again and again. Yet he comes back gets up spreads his wings and tries again. Just like I am learning to do.

What I am learning is it is ok to fail. It is an opportunity for growth. When I fail I have learned to evaluate and find the reason why I failed and to figure out what to do differently next time. I get to choose how I respond. I can either respond with self loathing and feeling crappy or I can respond with self love and tenderness and give myself the grace I so often extend to others, but not to myself. I have to learn to keep breathing and processing and trying again.

I have learned to listen for my little friend. I have learned to love him and I am rooting for him to keep on trying.

Supporting a grieving parent

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I can’t tell you how many times I read “you are in my prayers call if you need anything.” The truth is I probably wrote those very words many times over the years. The truth is a grieving parent has no clue what they need let alone the energy to ask for it. So I created this list of ways you can support your loved one when they are grieving the lost of their child.

  • show up. Bring a bowl of soup or a pizza.
  • Stick around wipe down the kitchen or bathroom. Just don’t clean our child’s room or wash their clothes unless we ask you to.
  • Sit with us if we can’t talk.
  • Talk about our child. Let us know he/she isn’t forgotten.
  • Call and leave a message so we know you called if we just can’t answer the phone
  • text to check in and ask how we are doing.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about our child. We haven’t forgotten. You won’t be reminding us of anything.
  • If you never met our child ask about him/her. We love to talk about our children.
  • Send pictures or videos you may have of our child.
  • Invite us out for a walk or coffee. We might not accept, but we like to be asked.
  • Know there are 2 days a year that we need a break. No matter how many years have passed the anniversary of our child’s passing and their birthday will bring strong emotional reactions. Be kind and gentle. Send us a text, a card, a message, flowers. Let us know you haven’t forgotten. Ask how we are doing.
  • Know you can’t fix us. Simply love us as we are.

What to say:

  • I am sorry.
  • I care.
  • I am here for you.
  • Tell me about your child.
  • I don’t know how you feel but I am here and I care.
  • My favorite story about your child is………….
  • Nothing just sit with us.

What not to say:

  • Time heals all wounds.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • I know just how you feel (unless you too have lost a child).
  • God needed another angel.
  • You can have other children.
  • Be thankful you have other child(ren).
  • It will get easier
  • God doesn’t give us anymore than we can handle.
  • Let me know if you need anything.
  • You are so strong.
  • I don’t know how you do it.
  • I could never do it.
  • It’s time to put this behind you.

Loving someone who has lost a child might mean you have to change plans or accept there are sometimes we simply don’t have the energy to show up at family gatherings, or we may choose to leave early when a situation is overwhelming. If we say “I need to leave or I just can’t do it today.” Just accept us as we are. Don’t try to talk us in to anything. Give us a bit of space and time then call to say check in and let us know we were missed.

Know things like family weddings, funerals, Christmas gatherings, and baby showers will always be tough. It will bring up the emotions that we might not be able to handle. It doesn’t mean we aren’t happy for you or that we don’t love you. Know we care, but if our emotions are raw and tender we might need to arrive late or leave early.

Please don’t give up on us. Just love us and know we are doing the best we can.

Spring Holidays

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Whether you observe Easter, Passover, or any other tradition if this is your first one or your 31st one without your child(ren) the day(s) will be hard in many ways. You may be thinking how different or how hard the day will be. You may be joining family and friends for the day, or planning a quiet day at home. You might have visited your child’s final resting place and decorated with flowers. However you choose to honor and do the day is up to you. You get to decide how you think about the day.

You might be feeling sad, lonely, depressed or anxious. Perhaps you are feeling content, at ease, courageous, gentle. You might be angry, guilty, tearful, or heartbroken. Whatever you are feeling is it is ok. As you feel the feelings in your body. Breathe through them. Close your eyes and just feel. Know it is ok to have those feelings. We are human and as humans we have a wide range of feelings and all of them are ok. Once you’ve identified those feelings take a deep breath. Allow your body to process that feeling and decide how you want to think about the day. Your thoughts will drive your actions.

Whatever you choose to do today is fine. If you just can’t face family and friends and choose to stay home do it. If you want to get out and be with people do it. If you’ve never been to a family gathering without your child yet I highly suggest you give yourself an out. If you show up and it is too overwhelming you can choose to leave. You get to decide what and how you spend the day.

You might be feeling like everything is different now and you don’t like it. It is ok. You don’t have to like it. Reality is that our circumstances would change eventually anyway. If our children were still living on earth they would grow up. They might go off to college or on to a job/career where they have to work holidays. Perhaps they would meet someone and choose to start their own traditions or spend time with their partners’ family. Life is constantly changing and shifting. We don’t necessarily like it, but we have no choice. We don’t have to do everything the same as we did before. If your home is the house everyone gathered at to have family dinners and you don’t feel up to having the family over you don’t have to invite them. If you choose to go away somewhere on your own to remember, reflect, and grieve for your child that is ok.

I would encourage you to take good care of your body. Drink plenty of water. Rest when you need to and eat healthy nourishing foods. Go for a walk outside in the fresh air when you can and allow nature and the sun to warm your body and clear your mind. Above all be gentle and kind to yourself.

There might be tears and heartache. You might remember years gone by and smile, and yes, even laugh at the memories. It is ok to laugh. It is ok to feel happy or joyful even. It is ok to talk about your child or your children and share funny stories of years gone by. I love to talk about Mike and the funny things he said or did. His friends and my family love to hear Mike stories. It keeps his memory alive and brings me comfort. Your child lived and loved and is. So honor their memory by sharing their story in whatever way you choose. There is no right or wrong way. You get to decide what the day looks like and what you choose to share.

I wish you a day of peace, good memories, and lots of love.