Monthly Archives: February 2013

What to say to someone who is grieving

The other day I walked into my bedroom and saw my husband lying on the bed reading my Dad’s book. He closed it and set it aside as I perched on the edge of the bed. I picked it up and ran a hand over the coarse cover.

“I can hear Dad’s voice in my head as I read this,” I said. Sudden emotion took me by surprise. That’s when I realized that since Dad passed away only 2 months after Lizy passed away I never really took the time to grieve or cry for him. I suppose it had to hit some time.

That experience had me thinking about grief. It wasn’t too long ago that I was one of the many who had no clue what to say to someone who had lost a loved one – especially someone who had lost a child. I often wonder with a little horror if I said one of those well-meant phrases that we (those grieving) never want to hear. I probably did – and I am grateful for friends who were patient with me and forgave my unintentional insensitivity.

Truth is that unless you have gone through a similar experience, you really don’t know – what to say or do – unless someone tells you. So, I thought I would share some insight on what those of us who have lost children (and other loved ones) do and don’t want to hear.

What we don’t want:

We don’t want to hear that she is in a better place. If we believe in Heaven – we already know with our minds that is true, if we don’t believe in Heaven I imagine it’s just an insult (I wouldn’t really know – I believe in Heaven). But our hearts rule our minds and every time I heard that phrase I thought, “I am sure Heaven is wonderful, but what better place can there be for a child than in her mother’s & father’s arms.”

We don’t want to hear that it was God’s plan, He needed her for a special work, it was his will, etc – all these things are things that most of us know or believe – we don’t really need to hear it – we are struggling with so many emotions – All the knowledge in the world of where we go after death and that families are eternal and that we’ll see our loved one again may give us plenty of hope, but it will not erase the emotions we go through and the act of missing that loved one. We know that she is doing a very special work and that it was His will she go home to Him… we still miss her lots.

Don’t tell us you know what we feel – unless you have been there – experienced the same kind of loss we have experienced.

Don’t ask what we need – we don’t know, really – our brains are a muddled mess. Simply think of a task and offer to do it. I was so relieved when a friend simply asked, “do you want me to make up the funeral programs.” Another friend simply saw the lawn growing long and began to mow it. Many others saw the disastrous state of my laundry and jumped in. I am grateful for those who asked if they could help – I just couldn’t think enough to reply with a coherent answer. (I still have a scattered & muddled brain sometimes and it’s been 10 months now…)

Don’t give us a timeline on grief – it’s different for everyone and comes and goes.

What we (I) want to hear – I’ll do this in I form – some may feel differently than me, everyone grieves differently….

I want to hear her name. It lets me know you remember her.

I want to hear memories – rather than saying she’s in a better place, tell me you remember her smile, or the way her eyes shined, or the sound of her giggle. I might tear up a little, but I’ll be able to remember too and she’ll feel closer.

A hug says more than words, every time. And it’s ok for you to cry too – it means you loved them too.

I’m sorry for your loss – that’s an ok one to say – especially if accompanied with a memory or a hug.

I love to hear experiences people have had that involve her – in life & in death. If she has touched your life in some way, let us know – especially if you were touched in some way after she passed – it reminds me that good things can come out of tragedy.

I want to know she is remembered and loved by others than just her family.

Be willing to listen and be patient if it seems all we can do is talk about our loved one – we miss them and want to remember them – talking about them is one of the only ways we have to truly feel close to them and like we’re not forgetting them.

I have a good friend who asks me questions about her – things she liked to do, eat, read – I love that. I love that someone wants to know more about one of the most amazing people I ever knew.

Also, don’t be afraid to just talk to us – we are still us and enjoy talking – about anything – Lizy or other. 🙂

I think that is my main list. I don’t know if it’s true for everyone who grieves. It’s true for me, and I believe others feel the same away by at least some of these. When in doubt of what to say, don’t say anything – just give them a hug and let them know you care.  If you have said one of the don’ts in the list – it’s ok – we know it was meant with the best of intentions, we just want to let you know for the future.

I believe in God. I know families can be together forever. I don’t mind hearing sentiments about her mission in Heaven – really I don’t – but more than any of those, I love to know that she is remembered. I can hear those sentiments much easier now than I could 10 months ago, though at times it is still difficult.

I have to remind my self often that if Jesus Christ wept for Lazurus, I can weep for my daughter – and my father and that there is nothing wrong with missing them.

It’s not self pity.

It’s not a lack of faith.

Grief is simply proof that we loved someone with all our hearts.

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Filed under Child loss

Refreshed

I feel refreshed.

This weekend was WONDERFUL.

I’ll write more and post more photos, but for now I’m just going to ramble about how wonderful it was to get away.

The thing with loosing a child is that there is a constant reminder.

You can’t get away from it.

I’m a Mom – that’s my job. It’s the best job in the world. I LOVE being a mom.

I’m a Mom(and wife of course) first and a piano teacher, writer and anything else second.

I go to work in the morning by opening my eyes.

My family is my most wonderful work and there’s someone missing. Not a second goes by where she isn’t in my thoughts and hardly a second goes by where I don’t miss her and notice her absence. She is a part of us. I saw that adorable face every day – more hours than not – for almost 14 years and all of a sudden that adorable face is no longer there.

There’s no distraction from that.

I can’t throw myself into my work as a distraction – my family is my work. SHE is my work.

I can’t throw myself into some fantastic hobby as a distraction – how can I possibly neglect the rest of my amazing family, and my husband? They are my work too.

There’s no easy or simple answer and it’s an uphill battle. And not only do I have to figure out how to deal with my grief and my emotions, but those of my children – and be considerate of my husband.

I found myself craving more and more a chance to get away. A break from life. Something where for the first time in 10 months I could focus on me.

That probably sounds horribly selfish.

But, as a mom we rarely focus on what we want – and that’s as it should be. Our focus is on the children and their emotions and needs. Oh, there are times and moments in the day when we get away and get to focus on ourselves, but not often and not long.  The idea of an escape from the pressures of life sounded wonderful.

And impossible.

But then I realized it may not be so impossible and due to some wonderful caring friends it happened sooner than I ever expected, but I think at the time it was most needed.

I felt like I was crumbling. Barely able to hang on to my sanity and process my own emotions, let alone help five children grapple with theirs. And I felt so very tired – if you recall my tired post. 🙂

This little get away was just the thing to rejuvenate me. For the first time in my life I took a 2 hour long bath! I just relaxed and watched a chick-flick while I soaked. I’ve never been SO self-indulgent. And, because I was away from home with no responsibilities for the weekend, I didn’t feel guilty about it!

For the first time in 10 months (and longer, really) I completely relaxed. It was wonderful having no demands on my time and being able to do the things we (my husband and I) wanted to do.  We were definitely ready to come home and get back into routine, but the break was so wonderful.

Missing Lizy was lessened a bit. Since we were missing (and maybe even not missing, lol) all our kids, it wasn’t so heavy on our hearts.

For the first time since the accident, Paul and I had time to sit down and really talk about it all. What happened, how it happened, how we felt, what we’re feeling now. It was wonderful. It drew us closer together and I think I burned through an entire box of kleenex. And that evening as we drove through the foothills of the smokey mountains, the sunset turned them pink and I had to smile at our little Lizy gift.

And how do I feel today, now that I am home and back into the every day routine of things?

I feel more calm and at peace with things than I have felt in a long, long time.

I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed.

I feel like I’m ready to tackle real life head on.

It feels good.

It’s been a long time since I have felt this way.

I feel like I have a little of me back – my old self.

And that feels good.

I still miss her dreadfully, the pain is still there.

But, I feel like since I took a break this weekend, I am more able to face it, handle it, cope with it.

While I was away I took it for a stroll and let it be my companion for an hour or so while I talked with Paul.

Now, I feel like it can be put away a little while so I can focus on my many other responsibilities. It’s still there – always will be. But at least for the moment I have a grip on things and don’t feel quite so tired. 😀

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Parenting

Taking a Break

A few weeks ago I found myself faced with a sudden realization.

I needed a break.

A break from stress.

A break from the constant every day reminder of Lizy being gone.

A break from life.

And I tossed the feeling aside, because, how can one really take a break from life?

I mentioned to Paul how I would love to get away – just the two of us for a little while – it had been SO long since we went anywhere over night without the kids. He agreed and my heart soared.

We weren’t sure how to do it and we knew it would be at least spring before it happened.

One afternoon I was sitting at the kitchen table with a good friend, working on a project we were giving the Young Women for New Beginnings and I mentioned that Paul and I were thinking of getting away.

She said, “Finally! G and I were talking about this just a few months ago – that what you two really need was just to get away. I’ll tell her you’re ready now.”

I think I stared at her for an astonished moment while crickets chirped.

“She has one of those vacation ownership things and can’t use all her points, she was going to send you guys on a vacation.”

SO, the long and the short of it, here we are in the Smokey Mountains at a beautiful resort having a wonderful time.  It happened much faster than we thought – we figured there wouldn’t be available rooms for a month or two at least and she called saying, “I booked a spot for you next week, let me know if you can’t make it.”

After some fast arrangements we were on our way. She and some other good friends descended on our home to wrangle our crazy crew. I can’t begin to say how grateful we are.

It’s been amazing.

I got to take a 2 hour (I watched a movie and painted my nails so I didn’t get bored) bath in an amazing jacuzzi tub. I’ve NEVER done that. We’ve been able to go at our own pace and in essence really take a break from life. Since we’re in a new place that we’ve never brought the family there are no memories (often the memories are wonderful – but they are hard too) of all the kids having a grand time. We miss (sort of, lol) all the kids so it’s not obvious in our brains and hearts that we should miss one more than the other. It’s been wonderful.

The area is crazy! Paul and I decided it’s like Las Vegas but instead of Casinos lining the main strip, amusement parks, miniature golf, etc. line the main strip – las vegas for kids, lol. We’re not into all that. We just stare at its garrish awe until we hit the mountains. It’s a bit stormy, so we haven’t been able to do much – a lot of the park has been closed. But we’re hoping to see more today – and take some photos of some of these crazy stores and amusement attractions.

One thing that has been so neat and beautiful is to see the icicle covered rocks – so beautiful! Today we’re hoping to go for a walk in the mountains, and since it’s Sunday we’ll go to church first – how odd it will be to just be two of us.

I’ll have more photos later, but here are a few of our vacation so far:

Smokey Mountains Collage 1

Smokey Mountains Collage 7

Smokey Mountains Collage 6

Smokey Mountains Collage 5

Smokey Mountains Collage 4

Smokey Mountains Collage 3

Smokey Mountains Collage 2

Smokey Mountains Collage 8

I Thought this wood carving was awesome – all done with a dremel

Smokey Mountains Collage 9

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Filed under Every Day Life, Love and Marriage