Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I write

Lately I was beginning to doubt what I have written is of any use.  Flowers on a Child's Grave is a great resource, but what if it never really helps anyone?  What if I am the only one that thinks it is useful or helpful at all.  After you read your own words over and over again they lose some of their impact I think.  Often we need to be reminded of why we do what we do and this last month I was without a doubt.

I had a book signing in February of this year.  There were people at the event I had never met before and one man in particular stood out.  He said he was at the hospital when DJ was admitted, that he knew about us and our family and remembered DJ's accident well.  He bought a book in honor of DJ and went on his way.

Fast forward several months and I came to hear that this very man's son had died unexpectedly.  He was half way through reading my book when he lost his adult son.  When you lose a child it is amazing how other bereaved parents seem to hear about it quickly, we are a small, intimate club.

Fast forward to this month and the same gentleman came into my husband's work to talk to him.  He told my husband that he and his family used the insights in the book as a blue print on how to handle
his son's personal belongings.  That they had used the book as a resource on getting through the terrible loss and it was a huge help to him and his family.

My main prayer has always been that my book would get into the hands that needed it and I would have to say that God did just that with this man.   It breaks my heart that this man unfortunately needed the information in the book yet I am so thankful that he had it and wasn't walking this painful journey alone.  My plan for the book has been that it can be a resource for people who have lost children and also for those who are wanting to help them.  In this instant it hit on both ends.  

The stories of the families in the book have helped this man and many others and for that I am grateful to God.  If you are struggling or want to help a family or friend that is grieving the loss of a child I am going to use this man's words to convey some hope to you all that "the book helped them get through the loss of their son and was a huge help to them."  When DJ passed away I didn't have the resources to help me decide what to do with his clothes, his room, his personal belongings--how the death would affect my remaining children, my marriage, my church life, etc.  If you know me personally you know that I am not a person to toot my own horn but I do want people to know that the words the families shared with me are helpful, useful and I wish I had the book in my hands after DJ passed away.

You can order my book in ebook form or paperback form at flowersoagrave.com  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Movies and Things

I took Jake to see Lion King in 3D yesterday.  While watching the movie it occured to me that the last time I had seen it in the theater it was when Emilee and DJ were little.  DJ was still alive.

I went to a football game this week--young men from age 13 and up were on the team.  While watching the game it occured to me the last time I had gone to a kid's game was when DJ was playing.  DJ was still alive.

Life has a way of recycling itself.  I have been on this painful journey for almost five years now and I thought I had most things figured out.  I think my last blog probably had the same exact sentiment as well--I thought I had this figured out.  After all I've written a book on surviving the loss of a child. I speak to those grieving parents, I hold workshops.  It truly blesses me to know that I am able to help so many bereaved parents through this piece of hell.  Well all of that matters very little when you are the one walking the walk.   The walk is one that you inevitably do by yourself in your own mind.

So I now have finally figured it out---We the bereaved parents will always have triggers, there will always be things that will remind us of our children.  There will truly never be a day that we do not remember our children with joy, with pain, or with sorrow.  Till the day we reunite with our child in heaven the grief will never, ever end.  It will subside, it will be more managable, it will kick our butts occasionally but in the end the grief will always be there with us because our children are not.  It does not take place of our child but they are a package deal--grief and our child.  We cannot have the loss without the grief-it reminds us of our loss, of the love we have for our child.  It is truly a horrible and obvious paradox-one I wish I did not understand.

There is comfort in this truth though, it releases me and all of us from the guilt that "we should be getting better" "we should be over it".  As most of you know from reading my blogs I do not give into guilt, I believe it is from the enemy.  However, knowing that the grief will always be there is a bit of a freedom, it keeps me sane knowing that grief will always follow me. 

I challenge you all to feel less guilt today about your grief, allow yourself the freedom to know it will always be a part of your life but is a remembrance of your wonderful child.  Again, the parody here sucks but is none the less true.  Be good to yourself, be kind to yourself and do not take on that false guilt the world wants to hand you--for by the grace of God they do not truly understand us. 

(I want to thank you all for the wonderful comments and stories you tell me especially about your child!  Please comment to me on facebook if you would like, my blog site does not allow me to respond directly to your comments)

Again-if you are local I will be having a book signing on October 8, 2006 at theBookworm in Omaha at CountrySide Village.  If you can't come you can check out my book at flowersonagrave.com

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are the injuries?

     I have lost my son DJ.  He has been gone for almost 5 years-5 years in October.  I stand up and walk around every day.  I smile, I laugh.  I talk to friends, strangers, the world.  I look normal on the outside (insert humour here).  On the outside my hair is done, my teeth are brushed, I appear to be "put together". 
     But what is on the inside?  That is where the injuries truly are.  The broken heart is on the inside, yes, it pumps everyday but it is broken.  It has spots where it is healed but there are scars in those areas.  There are full sections of my heart that are open and bleeding and I see no repair to those in the new future. 
     My brain isn't truly my own either.   There are days that it goes onto a trail, onto a memory that causes me pain.  It decides what memory it brings forth--sometimes they are painful. Painful memories of the accident, of the doctor telling us DJ was not alert, of that horrible hospital wall that held me up.  Somedays it takes me down the yellow brick road of seeing DJ skateboard and fly through the air.  It is seeing his beautiful green eyes and hugging his skinny body.  My brain is full of memories, good and bad and I have no control over those.
     My body is no longer mine, my energy level has changed.  Grief takes energy away, it robs and steals from me.  So many days the grief stays at bay and I seemingly live a normal life, but others it is gone.  My body has revolted against me more days than I would like to admit but I charge forward anyway-what choice do I have?
     Perhaps this is just the rambles of a tired mother, but what I guess  I am trying to say is that just because we all look normal we are all injured inside.  Whether you have lost a child or not, whether you know this horrible pain or not chances are you are injured on the inside too.
     No one in this life is immune from pain, no one has a free ticket from hardship. 
     My challenge to all of us today is to be aware of other people.  Realize that everyone has pain, everyone has a story of hurts---just because we can't see them on the outside, there are definitely injuries on the inside.  Be kind, be caring.  Take that extra second and smile and acknowledge that person next to you.  Remember that whether you have lost a child or not injuries are everywhere on everyone and we all need to be a bit kinder to one another.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Life is full of triggers

     I called my brother the other day.  There was a car accident on his street that made the television news.  It was a severe accident. I was worried that perhaps his daughter was the woman that made the news and was rushed to the hospital.  As I was talking to him I was truly surprised that I started to tear up on the phone.  I didn't mean to, I didn't think that calling him about a car accident would make me sad, but it did.  The woman in the accident wasn't his daughter and I did find out during our conversation that the woman was okay.  But again, I was surprised that my voice was starting to crack on the phone and I had to change the subject to keep my brother from hearing the sadness in my voice.

     How many of us have had phone calls though that have changed our lives?  Too many, this is a fact I know only too well.  So many of us have had that call "The ambulance is on the way." "There was an accident"  "I'm sorry to tell you this, but (fill in the blank here)."  I know you all could give me a long list of variations.

    Again though, I didn't expect to be saddened five years after DJ's death about a phone call that had nothing to do with me personally.  When does the sneak-up grief end?  Does it truly ever?  I have taught myself to be aware of things, triggers I call them-that may cause me to be sad about DJ.  Triggers like seeing his best friends around town, triggers like seeing skateboarders around town or on television.  Triggers of senior pictures that are coming my way from his class, triggers of his pictures, posters, toys, t- shirts on his brother or sister.  These are things I'm aware of, I can see coming and have taught myself to divert my brain from.  I do a "180" with my thoughts to keep myself from falling into that hole, into that grief.  That phone call was a surprising trigger for me.

     What is your trigger?  Are you far enough in your journey to be able to pull back from that trigger, to divert your thoughts?  Are you far enough though that you wish your pain was still so strong, do you worry you are forgetting your child by not grieving so strongly?  Or are you so close that you cannot say your child's name yet without tears flowing?   Both time lines suck, too close and too far away from our child. 

     I am sorry we all have triggers.  I am sorry that we have to retrain our brains to not have severe grief hit us.  I am sorry we are away from our child and awaiting a reunion that probably won't happen for years and years.  I am sorry we all have broken hearts. 

     I am having a book signing at the Bookworm in Omaha at Country Side Village on October 8, 2011- if any of you are local and can come I would like to meet you and encourage you.  I am sorry we are all in the same boat and only too well understand each other's pain.  It is DJ's 5th anniversary of his death on that date so you can all come and encourage me as well.  Take care dearest friends, Lisa-forever DJ's mom