Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrapping up the worst year ever

Over the holiday season, we got a few Christmas letters from some dear friends and family members... talking about how their year went and all the wonderful things that happened to them.  I thought about what our letter would say if we created one.  How would we talk about the worst year of our lives?  What words could be said that would do 2012 justice?  I feel like a good ol' "F*** YOU" would be the easiest way to sum up my feelings.  However, then I think about the year... the first 6 weeks of 2012 were truly wonderful.  Every day was filled with laughter, smiles, love and happiness.  As a family, we got along better than we ever had.  The kids loved having Declan in our family.  Both Noah and Courty were great siblings to him... and were SUCH big helpers for me.  For 6 weeks we were the family I had envisioned growing up... I had my hearts desire, life was good.   Then that day happened to us....the day our lives changed FOREVER! The day life slapped me in the face, sucked all the breath out of me and ripped out my heart.  The day my family was torn apart and my kids learned about death and the unfairness of life the hard way.  The day Declan died.  The day our son's heart stopped beating in our arms.   February 14th, 2012....  I feel like saying, "what else matters?!" Life at our house stopped that day... every day since then has been about survival... it has been about overcoming fear, anger, extreme sadness and disappointment.  It has been about making a decision to let his death sink us or make us stronger.  It has been about discovery and healing, it has been about finding ways to make his memory live on and making an impact on this world that is as meaningful as he is.   Every day has been about accepting our fate and what has happened to us... it has been about piecing together Noah and Courtlynn's hearts and letting them know that we still love them and that we are going to be ok.  It has been about coming to terms with our situation... about leaning on each other in ways we had never done before.  SO... yes, 2012 sucked. 2012 hurt terribly.  2012 will never be forgotten... but overtime, what I hope I remember are the 6 weeks Declan was here with us and the incredible way Nathan, Noah, Courlynn and myself pulled together to get through this... Thanks to those three, I can say confidently that I was able to laugh, I was able to smile and I was able to see my blessings amidst the rain even during the worst year of my life. 

It's tough to be happy when your child has died... but day by day, we are coming to a place were we are starting to find a new happiness.  The only new years resolution I will be making for 2013 is to make the most of what I have, give thanks and praise for Declan daily and to move in a direction that sustains his memory and strengthens the bond my family has.  

Happy New Year to all... may God's blessing pour out on you. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reflecting on Christmas

Christmas has come and it has passed... I was curious to see how the holidays would shape up for us.  I had lots of anxiety about seeing the kids open their gifts, knowing we should have a squealing little toddler trying to steal everyone else's presents and who enjoyed playing with the wrapping paper more than the toy itself.  I think overall we did ok.  Christmas Eve was hard for me... the music at church brought me to tears at every song and when I got home I took a moment to have a good cry in our room, but then it was back to the hustle and bustle of getting ready for supper and getting the kids settled down enough to enjoy the moment.  I found myself to be extremely sleepy over most of the holiday. I think that was stress and emotions weighing heavy on my shoulders.   I don't know what I expected, but sometimes I am overwhelmed at how I think people don't want to make me sad (or themselves sad) so they don't bring up Declan... I think that is one of the worst ways to deal with grief... I want someone, other than myself, to bring him up, to let me know that they too are missing him over this holiday season.  I don't know what I would want someone to say... I am not sure how people should act, but I anticipated an acknowledgment of our first Christmas without our son and we didn't really get that... or maybe we did in the form of extra hugs, arm squeezes, and longer gazes, but hardly anyone said his name... in fact maybe only one, my brother.  I understand it is hard and I am not upset or trying to call anyone out, it's just more an observation I made and am sharing.   I guess overall, Nate was my rock,  the two of us spoke about  him, cried about his passing and visited his grave... the two of us together dealt with the pain and the sorrow the only way we have learned to - by leaning on each other and helping each other when the other one is struggling... how lucky I am to have someone to travel this journey with... a person who 'gets' it at my side... As I sit here, looking at the Christmas tree, knowing the season is almost over, I can't help but think about what Christmas really means... the gift of a baby, meant to save the world by giving up His life for us... to ensure that I will get to see Declan again.  I have much to be thankful for... and I can take comfort in knowing that GOD himself, knows what it is like to lose a child.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The places grief takes you

After Declan passed away, I wanted to be surrounded in my grief... I wanted the hurt because it meant that I was still alive and that he had been real.  I wanted to 'feel' what I could of him and for those few months after his passing, all I had of him was grief, it was the most tangible thing I could find.  So I held on tightly.  I remember saying, I don't ever want to feel better, I want to feel this sadness in my heart forever.  Not because I enjoyed feeling broken hearted, but because I was afraid if I didn't, it would mean that I had forgotten or that I had "moved on"... the last thing I ever wanted was to move on, like the life and passing of my son was some sort of terrible thing I should forget.  As I have taken the steps of this journey, I have come to a new place... a place I don't really like and am working on moving through... now it feels almost like the opposite of before, when I start to think about Declan, really think about him.... envision his birth, his smile, his voice, his laugh... really move to a place where he is all I am thinking about,  I can be happy and thankful for his life, but only for a few moments before a deep deep sadness take my heart over....and then I say to myself, "I can't think about that right now"... because I don't have the energy or the desire to be consumed with grief.  I'm in a place where my reality is starting to sink it... it's starting to become real and I am understanding he isn't coming back... which I knew in my head along, but my heart couldn't go there.  It's slowly catching on and the pain from that is 'harder' than in the beginning.  The pain now can be crippling... it can also just be silent tears flowing... I just never know which direction my grief will choose to take.  I think in those few months after Dex's passing, I needed to be a crying mess... I needed to take those moments, with my eyes shutting out the world, to just be sad and to have what I called "Declan" time... I don't feel like I need my 'Declan' time to look like that anymore.  On occasion I am perfectly content with shutting out the world and running wild in my dreams with my sweet son, but I don't have to anymore... my body doesn't require it of me.  I am at least at a point where he can be in my thoughts and I am not breaking down... where he can come up in conversation and I can get through it with only a minor lip tremble, where he fleets in and out of my mind, like a game of hide and seek, and I can smile at his memory.  I am presuming, as my grief continues to take me down this journey, I will come to a place where I can allow myself to think deeply about Declan without crippling pain... a place and time where I can sit and watch my memories playing like a movie in my head and instead of being overwhelmed with sadness, enjoy the moment.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

When hate happens

Friday’s tragic events obviously have been unimaginable… many, many people are sad and unable to understand how someone could do this, including me.  I am sad. My heart is breaking for the 20 empty beds that those parents now have in their home.  My heart is weeping at the Christmas trees full of presents for children whose squeals of delight will not be heard.   I know everyone is ‘imagining’ how terrible it is to lose a child… we know.  Nate and I do not have to imagine how those parents feel.  We can relate to their pain, to their immense suffering…. I’m sure funeral plans are being made and we can personally tell you that planning your child’s funeral sucks.  I truly believe that once you have experienced your own loss, you grieve harder and you relive your own loss every time you hear of something similar.  Of course, it doesn’t help that this is the holidays and we are suffering through our own sadness and still healing from losing Declan…  but I can’t imagine it changing.   

Friday, to begin with started off terrible, to start with it was the 14th… the 10-month anniversary of our own loss…. I have struggled with that date of the month for 10 months.  Around 9 am, I found out my former band teacher, music director and someone I looked up to was killed in a car accident… then the awful news of the school shootings… Nate and I laid in bed on Friday night and talked about how terrible the day was from the beginning to the end.  Sadness surrounded us.

As I have digested the events at SHES, the teacher in me can’t help but think of what it was like to be there as an adult…  how hearing those shots surely sent them into a mode they didn’t believe they would ever be in – PRORECTION mode.  I can only imagine the very first thought was ‘oh my God… this is real’ and from there, ‘how can I protect these children?’  I think back to my days in the classroom and you know, I didn’t like every one of my students and there were a few I couldn’t stand, but I know I would have protected everyone of them with my own life.   I have heard the stories of heroism from the teachers and I am proud, but not one bit surprised.  As Noah and I talked about the terrible events, I confidently told him that his teacher would protect him and the other children with her life.  I just know she would.  When you become a teacher you are so much more than just a teacher…. You are a substitute mom (or dad)… you are a nurse…. You are a leader and role model… you are a friend… you are a protector of those little ones in your care.  It’s a big job.   

My heart goes out to the teachers who lost their friends on Friday.... my heart aches for the police and rescue people who had to witness such a terrible act and see such heart weeps for the students whose friends died and who will suffer with this for a very long time and I think it goes without saying that my heart hurts for the parents who lost their babies and to the kiddos who lost their brother/sister...  Friday, the devil reared his ugly head.  Today and always is the time to trust in God... to allow him to help us through our pain and our disbelief... it's time to remember that HE will hold us up in his victorious right hand. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I have been feeling very discontent lately.... I can't seem to shake it and on top of that feeling, I am angry.  I don't know where the anger is coming from, maybe it's always been there, lurking beneath the surface and I am not even aware of it.  But I think more accurately it stems from the great discontentedness I am wallowing in these days.  I want more... more time with Declan... to have one more Christmas with him... to have more soft baby face to kiss.   I want this to have not happened.  I want to wake up tomorrow and have life back the way it was meant to be.  That is what my heart wants, my mind knows that isn't a reality.   I can't even begin to explain how quickly my mind moves and changes... I want things that sound like a good idea at the time and then after thinking about it, change my mind.  I want a dog... I don't want a dog... I want to adopt a 16 year old kiddo named Jack (long story) and then I don't... I want to have another baby... and I still want another baby. That desire weighs heavy on my mind because it's not likely to happen very easily... extra, expensive steps would have to be taken to have one of our own or adopting would have to be considered as a real option.  And I am mad about that.  I hear about Rainbow Babies and how excited those families are and I want us to be those parents... getting another chance.  I am afraid though that what I really want is Declan and what I really want is more time with him.... so I find myself talking myself out of wanting another child.... it's a bit of a vicious cycle.  I think that going through the holidays and having the 1 year anniversary of his passing coming up has also contributed to my discontentedness and my anger.  It's kind of exhausting feeling like this.

Tonight at supper, those crazy feelings came to a head.  Nate was being silly and joking around with me and I started to laugh and it instantly turned into tears... not just a few silent gliders, but shoulders bouncing, tears streaming, can't catch my breath kind of crying... and to top it off we were at Pizza Ranch! I was embarrassed and wanted to stop, but every time I thought I was getting it under control the bawling continued.  Noah and Co-Co Bean were not sure what to think... I didn't even know what to think.  It was kind of scary because it felt like I had no control over it... and I had a really hard time catching my breath. It was icky and I felt bad for putting my family through it....

I guess what I need to remind myself is that I need to put it back in our Heavenly Fathers hands and trust that He has a plan bigger than I can imagine at the moment.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

knocked down...

I got knocked down... but I got up again. 

Struggling with IT

I find that when I am tired or not feeling the best or just plain in a bummed out mood, 'it' really weighs on me.   'It' being grief... 'it' being the loss of Dex... 'it' being everything and anything.  People use the word "it" often....  It's time to get over 'it'.  How do you handle 'it'?  How has 'it' changed you?  "It" reminds me of one of those words that people use to talk about some elusive entity... some secret thing that no one can fully describe because they don't really know what 'it' is, but they know that it is something...  today the word 'it' means my disbelief that my son died.  I look at his photos and I just can NOT believe it.  I don't understand how this happened to us!  How did death so quickly sneak into our lives and steal what was most important?  How do you recover from that?!  How do you not let 'it' ruin your life? Why do we have to have that kind of 'it' in our lives?   It did happen though... it is real.  It has tripped us up, but we continue to try to figure 'it' out... we continue to work on moving forward.

A Grieving Parents wish list

I saw this on Grieving Mothers Facebook page.... I did not write it, but I like it and wanted to share with you.

A Grieving Parents Wish list

1. I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was important and I need to hear his/her name.

2. If I cry or get emotional if we talk about ... my child, I wish you knew that is 
isn't because you have hurt me. The fact that my child has died has caused my tears. You have allowed me to cry and I thank you. Crying and sometimes unexpected emotions are healing.

3. I wish you wouldn't ignore or act like my child never existed by removing from your home his pictures, artwork or other reminders of this very special person who lived and made a contribution to all of our lives.

4. I will have emotional highs and lows, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn't think that if I have a good day my grief is all over, or that if I have a bad day I need psychiatric counseling. My erratic and unpredictable mood swings, from exhilaration to hopelessness, are as unpredictable by me, as they are by you. This is part of my new "normal" life.

5. I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separate. It is the ultimate tragedy in a persons life. I wish you wouldn't compare it to your loss of a parent, a friend, a spouse or a pet.

6. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you would not shy away from me. I need you and you need me.

7. I wish you knew of all the "crazy" grief reactions that I have are, in fact, are very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following the death of a child.

8. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. Please do not think because my "time period" is over that I am a "former bereaved parent" but I'll forever more be a "recovering bereaved parent". Please don't tell me how I should "cope" or that "it is time to move on" or "someday there will be closure". The word "closure" is a convenient, faddish media term that is absolute and complete non sense and meaningless.

9. I wish you understood the physical reactions to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, develop a host of illnesses, be accident prone or forgetful, all of which may be related to my grief. I may become isolated and withdrawn for periods of time. I may not even be able to talk on the phone or return phone calls.

10. Our child's birthday, the anniversary of their death and holidays are terrible times for us. I wish you would tell us that you are thinking of our child on these days. and if we get quiet and withdrawn, just know that we are thinking of our child and don't try to coerce us into being cheerful. If nothing else, I wish you would call once in a while and say "hi, I was thinking about you" Or just a friendly note or word, '"just wanted to let you know i was thinking of you today and hope things are OK"

11. It is normal and good that most of us re-examine our faith, values and beliefs after losing a child. We will question things we have been taught all our lives and hopefully, come to some new understanding with my God. I wish you would let me tangle with my religion without making me feel guilty.

12. I wish you would understand that grief changes people. I am not the same person I was before my child died and I will never be that person again. If you keep waiting and encouraging me to "get back to my old self" you will be disappointed, discouraged and frustrated. I am a new creature, not by choice, but by circumstances, with new thoughts, new dreams, aspirations, goals, priorities, values and beliefs. Please try to get to know the new me...maybe you will still like me.