Saturday, June 26, 2010

You become a part of a group

A friend of mine notified me this week that she has a friend who's 2 year old boy was found in the family pool. He has been at the local children's hospital and they are waiting for the swelling to go down in his brain. My friend wants to know if I can talk to the mother since we have similar situations. This is a new role in life I have, not one that I had ever planned on having. It is not a role or a group that I ever thought I would be a part of. Nor is it one any parent ever plans on being in. It is a group however with very strong bonds. I now have friends from this group that I cherish the friendships of . We are now in a group that completely understands one another. When we say we understand, we understand! We can listen to each other's problems and we get it. We as parents want to hear our children's names and in this group we can openly say their name and expect to hear it as well.
I know that I will have to call this mother if her child doesn't make a recovery. I couldn't call anyone that I was recommended to call after DJ passed away, it took too much strength and energy to do so. It was the phone calls of other parents in this group that helped me. These group members reached out to me when I could not reach out to anyone, when my grief was too much of a burden.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grief becomes Anger

I see grief looming like an angry cloud. It is in the air, it is hanging all over my husband. I see the grief just waiting for the match to light the fire. It is waiting calmly to explode, what a paradox. The calm before the storm! I don't know what to do to ease the anger, but I see it coming and I feel it. It is in the words not spoken and the tone of those spoken. It is in the body language and the eyes that are looking but not seeing. It is in the late nights spent up thinking and thinking some more. It is looming and it is bigger than I am. People say grief is a cycle, that there are steps to it, but I see it as a wheel that keeps rotating, around and around and you never know where it is going to stop. Instead of winning a trip with a spin, you win a trip to grief city. A place that isn't shiny, isn't happy and isn't calming. It is not a place I want to visit very often and a road that I try to travel less often. It is coming and I am waiting calmly for it to pass.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Celebrate life whether you want to or not!

Today is Father's day. My husband didn't want to do anything today for the holiday. He wanted to ignore it but I had to remind him that the holiday isn't just for him it is for the kid's to remember him, to celebrate him. Just because DJ is gone we as parents don't have the right to take holidays away from our kids. It is not fair of us to let them lose that part of their world. Regardless of our own pain, regardless of how it makes us feel, it will make them feel bad if they don't have an opportunity to celebrate life. We don't want to celebrate life, we want to forget all those holidays, all of the things we used to do with our whole family. We as parents see no need in having these holidays because we don't have a complete family. Well that is just too bad for us as parents, we need to continue to let our children celebrate and find joy in the world. So much has been taken from our children and we do not have the right to take more. We have to give our children back some of their trust in the world, some of their joy in it. We have to get out of the way of our own grief and celebrate life for those around us--whether we want to or not!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The funeral does not stop the loss

When you lose a child you don't only lose that child. You lose the children that you have remaining, they do not stay the same, you lose the people they were before and who they were planning to become. You lose friendships, you lose faith, you lose who you are and who you may have wanted to be. You lose desires and passions, you lose yourself, you lose your spouse. The loss is slow and building. You are often so blind by grief that you can't see what is in front of you. You don't even know you are losing things right away. You never stop losing, the cemetary, the funeral, and the death do not put an end to the loss. Loss keeps coming at you from all angles. from everwhere expected and unexpectd. After DJ passed away there were a lot of losses in the family. Our daughter went from being a blond outgoing teenager, always wanting to hang out with friends to a black haired, heavy makeuped girl hanging out in her room whenever possible. She lost the personality, the creativity she had before DJ's death. She lost the relationship she had with us and DJ. She lost her bestfriend and her confident. She lost the life long person she knew was always by her side. She lost the one person in the world that she could tell everything to and the one person that would still love her unconditionally no matter what.
Our youngest son could no longer stay the night at any one's house, he couldn't be away from his family at night. He lost his confidence in himself and in the world. He couldn't go to his kid's bible group anymore, he would get sad there. Eventually we let him stop completely, it was just too difficult for him to go. He lost friendships with people that DJ knew, he lost the connections he had with these older boys. He lost the "best big brother ever" He lost the safety of his big brother at night when he was scared, he lost the boy that would walk him to the bus after school. He lost the friend he had and would never have again. He lost the idea that the world was a safe place to be. He lost, she lost and we all keep losing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A tsunami of pain

Almost four years later and I am still surprised how grief can jump up and cloak my family. I found my son Jake sleeping last night with two scrap books on his bed, a box full of tissues and kleenex laying on his bed. He didn't call out to me or his dad, he didn't tell me he was grieving, he didn't say anything. He just stayed up late and looked at pictures of him and DJ alone. Grief is something that is done alone. You can cry with your family, you can cry with friends but the grieving is something you always end up doing alone. Again, it is something that is playing in your own memories, in your own mind. It can be pushed aside, it can be forgotten for a short while but it can come back full blast with power. It can come back like a wave, slow and rolling with emotion or it can come back fully like a tsunami strong and scary and all you can do is hang on for dear life, hang onto your life and ride it out. It leaves you drenched, it leaves you soaking wet with emotion, it leaves you drained and it DOES NOT give you anything back but pain. It steals time, emotion, relationships, drive, passions, love, energy, memories, happiness, life, it takes and takes and does not give. It took my son's sleep, it took his peace, it took him away to a lonely place and today I have to help him find some of that back. Four years later and we have a tsunami.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We are not seeing the world

So many people were at DJ's funeral,I didn't recognize or know them all. A friend I knew for over 20 years came and began talking to me, I didn't recognize him. I had to ask him who he was, grief takes your memories but leaves you with so many more---a poor trade I feel. From the outside, people who have lost a child look almost normal, most of us smile when we are supposed to, laugh when we should, act a part that society wants us to act. But in reality, especially in the beginning we are only acting to placate those around us. Very few people want to know how we really are after a few weeks. We are supposed to be fine, atleast that is the answer most want to hear. Fine means Feelings Inside Not Expressed--so don't be fooled by us, we are not fine, we are not doing okay, we are not truly engaged in anything but our grief. Right after DJ's death I had two realities, the one in front of me with people, family, activities, etc. but the other reality was what was in my head. A constant video was playing in my memory, a constant replay of my last days with DJ, a replay of the funeral, all the things that were horrible, all the things that were not actually in front of me were playing in my brain. This is why I feel people with grief have bad memories, while we are with you we are also somewhere else and that somewhere else has a strong hold on our memory. So don't be upset with us if after a few years even we just can't remember some things, help us by reminding us gently of things we have to do, lunch with a friend, a school meeting we must attend. Don't think just because our eyes are open that we are seeing the world.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What to wear

DJ was a skinny boy. At the beginning of football season he weighed 110 lbs-not much on his 5 ft 4 inch frame. He was so happy and proud to finally be over 100 lbs. After sweating in football he was down to 105, he was never able to gain those prized 5 lbs back. What to dress DJ in then? His pants kept falling off him because of his weight loss, he had one skinny pair of jeans that weren't really skinny on him at all but we picked those. Perhaps other family members would have picked a suit and tie, or slacks and button up shirt. But this wasn't DJ's personality, he was a skateboarder through and through. We picked his favorite skateboarding t-shirt along with his large 10 1/2 size men's shoes. We even tried to press our luck and slick his hair back--he had beautiful hair and we always wanted him to do this but he refused while alive--all shaggy was his style. In the end though he still won--we ended up letting is fall onto his face, it didn't look like him to be so polished. What does a parent wear? My husband bought a black skateboarding t-shirt to wear in his honor underneath his suit coat. When you have such tragedy your body slows down and you get cold. I was freezing everywhere I went after DJ's death and his funeral was no exception. I wore a fur coat into the service, during the service and after the service. I wondered a little if people thought I was trying to be showy, but I was freezing and unless you have had such unimaginable tragedy overcome your life you would not understand. I didn't wonder or really care very long.