Elephant in the room

I bumped into an acquaintance yesterday, a gentleman I had not seen is a few years.  I asked about his family.  He asked about my husband.  We chatted about cars and the weather and the news – but we both felt the elephant in the room.

I noticed he chose his words carefully, even stopping mid-sentence and re-phrasing.  He started to ask “How is the fam….. – How is your husband?”

I smiled and pretended not to notice.  He was avoiding making any reference to my son.  I know he knows of our loss – and I know he was trying to be considerate.

Why is it that way?  Kind, caring people gingerly step around the elephant in the room.  Is it because they don’t know what to say?  Is it because they are afraid of upsetting me?

I am grateful for the dear friends and family in my life who invite me to talk and share about my son.  I will always be his MOM and I will always miss him and I will always love him. I need to talk about him.  When I walk and speak with my Heavenly Father, we chat about my dear son often – HE listens.  I know HE does.

Does anyone else notice this elephant avoidance behavior?

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Peaking out of the Pit

February 25th marked the third anniversary of my son’s death – my only child. The pain just overwhelmed me an I let myself slide down into a dark pit. I still did all the things I had to do such as go to work, farm work, house hold chores – but my mind was in a very dark place. I have not blogged in weeks. Just couldn’t. I kept reading others blogs and, as strange as it may seem, that helped.

Oddly, I felt so disconnected from life, people, everything – but reading your blogs lifted me. I am now peaking out of the pit, just peaking. Thank you – for somehow being a lifeline. Your stories, your willingness to share – it is light.

I am trying to practice mindfulness – being present in only this moment – mind you I said “trying”.

After the clown show

You see, grief doesn’t end, at least not for me. In 18 days, it will be three years since I lost my son. To the world, I am “OK”. Because I get up everyday and put on the clown show. I smile, socialize, interact – everything the world has come to expect from me. I have to – I am the strong, responsible one.

At the end of the day, when the clown show is over – when all my adult responsibilities have been fulfilled, I can curl up with my dogs – alone, in the dark. Then, I can grieve. I remember. I cry. I smile. I love. No clown. No pretend. Just me.

The clown show is exhausting to me. I welcome the dark, late at night.

I don’t think I want to be a clown anymore – maybe, just maybe – people will just have to accept that I am different now. I need to learn how to stop pretending.

Breathe

Holidays are tough when you are grieving. I will always be grieving. I try to hold onto the light, the good things – but there is such a gaping hole. According to my grief counselor, I am dealing with delayed grief, or what ever label one attaches. I always feel like I have to be the strong one, the responsible one – so I hold everything in – take care of business. SO – Here I am going through the 3rd Christmas without my son, my only child and – it isn’t any easier for any of us. My husband is hospitalized, so I am holding down the farm. So, I spent the holiday with my animals and a nasty respiratory infection. Finally gave in and went to the doctor. My asthma was flared up and needed a treatment. So I spent my morning in a the medical center, doing a nebulizer treatment – 2 years, 10 months, and 6 days after my son died of a severe asthma attack. Each breath cut through me – I will finally had to admit how guilty I feel – he got the asthma from me, I know it. I feel like it is my fault, my punishment and I don’t know why. No matter how many times I tell myself, it isn’t my fault and it isn’t about me – I can’t stop the thoughts. They attack in waves. I love my GOD so much, and I lean on the GREAT SPIRIT for comfort and healing, and I know HE did NOT TAKE my child, HE received him in love, just like HE loves me.

Still – the thoughts come. My son, a young, successful Emergency Room Doctor just finished a shift saving lives. Why couldn’t they save him? He saved lives. He made a difference in this world. Why is he gone and I’m still here? What do I do? I hate these thoughts – I suppressed them as long as I could – now I have to let them out so I can let them go.

Breathe. I tell myself just breathe and let it go. I needed to lance this abscess so I could get this poison out.

I needed to spend this holiday in my home alone so I could deal with my grief, and not be responsible for anyone else. I don’t have to put on the brave face. I am spending this day in prayer, in healing – just me and my dogs (and hugs on the horses, mule, cat, – and patted the goose). I absorbed their love – pure, honest love.

Maybe, if there is any good that can come of my grief journey – it is to share the revelations – tell someone you love them and give them a safe place to express their grief. Everyone needs to express the dark thoughts without judgement or condemnation or fear of rejection – Don’t hammer a broken person over the head with the Bible. Remember, it is the word of GOD, not a weapon. Instead, Hold their hand and pray with them.

If you are hurting, you have to breathe and let it out – scream it out – curse it out – even break something if it helps. But the abscess never heals unless it ruptures. I hold onto my big Ol’ Charlie Tarheel (My German Shepherd) and I cry and I pray. Strange as it sounds, I believe he is my spirit animal, sent to guide me to a closer spiritual relationship and a stronger faith. That works for me. I pray everyone in pain finds what works for them, to bring healing. Please, don’t give up. Continue the journey.

Prayers.

Kindness has power

My mind is rambling today – I just miss my son so much – it is hard to rein in the thoughts. So I am just going to let them run.

When my son was 11 years, he was diagnosed with a condition called mid-aortic syndrome. This is a very rare, dangerous condition that required a complicated and dangerous aortic implant. He was in surgery for over 16 hours and my husband and I spent this time on our knees or pacing about. Unfortunately, there as a problem with the implant and after only a few hours in recovery, Jay was rushed back to surgery for another 4 hours.

I wanted to call my prayer group and tell them to pray harder, but I was out of coins for the phone. Yes, this was back in 92, and I needed coins.

A custodian walked by, busy going about his duties, yet he stopped to notice my tears and care. Without a word, he stuffed a handful of quarters into my hand. I tried to thank him, but he just gave me a hug and a bright smile and strolled off. I did call my prayer team and they did pray harder and my son began to grow stronger. Today I am grateful for the 24 additional years we enjoyed together, and for the act of kindness.

I do not know the kind gentleman’s name and I did not see him again – but he is always in my heart. His small act of kindness is burned indelibly into my memory. There is power in kindness! Just like the loving woman who washed Jesus’ feet, the kindness is remembered.

Today, my husband and I are letting the grief take over – we are just letting it flow. As we do – my mind rambles about. When we first learned we would be parents, we were filled with joy. When we first held our son, we were filled with love. When we lost him, we were filled with pain and sorrow. But, broken as I am, I know I still have value. I can still serve a loving GOD by being kind. Even if it is just some small gesture, a quick smile – I know kindness has power, lifting power that touches everyone, even those who just witness the kindness.

We need the power of kindness in this world today, more than ever – more kindness to all living things.

Just BE

This question is so natural this time of year – a simple question really.  “What are you planning for the holidays?”   In my head, I answer: Isolation. Pain. Sadness. Darkness. Anguish.

My son loved Thanksgiving. He just loved Turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing – the whole menu. I would roast a huge turkey, just to make sure he had plenty of leftovers. He always said the leftovers were one of his favorite parts.  Now, I don’t want to roast a turkey, smell a turkey, or even see a turkey  – maybe never again. It hurts too much. I miss him so very much – always.

Instead of happily rushing into the holidays, my husband and I are bracing for the overwhelming pain, loss, and grief.

Many friends and relatives extended invitations, sincere and heart felt.  We declined them all.

Not because we do not appreciate the invitations. We do.

Not because we do not love the people. We do.

In fact, it is because we love them. I don’t want to drag down some one else’s holiday. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable.  And I just don’t want to pretend I am OK when I am not. I don’t want to put on a happy face – when I feel like crying. This holiday, I need to be able to just “BE”

BE sad or BE broken or BE still or BE hysterical or BE nostalgic or BE in communion with GOD or BE …. whatever I need to BE.

If I am around others, I must consider their feelings. I must conceal my pain and put on the smile facade.  I always feel like I need to BE what they need.

So my husband and I will stay home over the holidays. We will BE with each other. We will remember. We will sob.  We will pray.  We will BE.

I miss you, Jay.

 

WildFlower Farewell

I am afraid I do not know the name of this purple flower, but I love the colorful blooms.  It is a hardy, tall fellow – standing up to Virginia drout and sun.  My husband and I sat on our “memory”  bench and enjoyed the last of them

Now there is a huge dragon fly in our living room.  I believe this is a powerful, positive blessing and we will help guide our little visitor safely outdoors.

Casualties of Grief Part 3

Holidays and Parties – for me – are definitely on the casualty list.  I used to love parties and family gatherings.  In the fall, we would always build a huge bond fire and invite family and friends to the farm.  We would eat my husband’s chili, roast hots dogs and marshmallows – just enjoy.

I have not hosted or attended a party since losing my son – I just struggle being around groups of people.  Truthfully, I cannot get “in the mood” to host a party and I don’t want to attend some one else’s party and bring down their mood.

Has anyone else experienced the awkwardness of the grief journey?  The isolation?  When I encounter people, acquaintances who either do not KNOW or I do not see on a regular basis – there is an awkwardness in our interaction.  I can tell it is on their mind and they feel uncomfortable – and I feel uncomfortable.  Conversation just feels “forced”.

Holidays and party days are ahead – AGAIN.  If I muster the courage to accept  invitations, will I would be socializing with people I have not seen since my son’s memorial service?  Will they feel uncomfortable?  Will I be a dark cloud on the party?

I cry privately.  I grieve privately.   I work to always maintain my composure in any public situation.  I do not want to burden others.  What to do?  Go?  Say no?