Feel and Deal to Heal

If I touch a hot stove my hand jerks away almost before my mind registers the searing pain.  It’s reflex.  Our bodies were designed to react to and protect us from things that cause pain.

Run away.  Don’t go back.  Set up barricades and warning signs so that others can be protected.

Most of the time, this reaction serves us well.

But sometimes those reflexes keep us from healing.

Anyone who’s had major surgery knows that when the nurses come in the next morning saying, “We’re going to get you out of bed today!”, the last thing you want to do is swing your legs over and stand up.  It HURTS!

We want to avoid what hurts, not embrace it.

So it’s no surprise that when we suffer deep emotional wounds, our first response is to try to run away or bury them or ignore them.  The last thing we want to do is face them.

But if I am to heal, I have to face them.  I have to take hold of each place where the dagger of grief and sorrow and regret and anger has pierced my heart and examine it closely.  I have to decide what to do with it, how to integrate it into my life after loss.

Grief is work!  That is one of the reasons grievers need solitude as well as companionship on this journey.  And that is why grief can’t be hurried along.  It takes a great deal of time to do the work grief requires.

If instead of facing our pain, we try to run away or distract ourselves or numb ourselves with alcohol, food or drugs, we only prolong the process.  Grief will not be ignored forever.

healing doesnt mean damage never existed

We must FEEL what we need to feel.

Then we must DEAL with those feelings-it might mean seeking a professional counselor or a trusted friend.  Online or in-person grief support groups are a wonderful resource. Journaling can help too.  But we have got to acknowledge and work through these feelings.

And then we can begin to HEAL  Hearts that have embraced and made some sense of grief can begin to beat again.  They can begin to love again and feel joy again.  They can learn to carry both sorrow and happiness-to remember and honor the missing child while also honoring and loving family and friends still here.

It’s not a “once and done” exercise.

I have repeated these steps over and over in the nearly three and a half years since Dominic ran ahead to heaven.  New feelings show up at the door of my heart and I have to choose to feel them, to search for what they mean and why they are here and then allow them to be woven into the fabric of who I am NOW-this side of child loss.

It takes courage and stamina and determination, but it is the only way forward.  

owning-our-story-and-loving-ourselves-through-the-process

 

 

The Fight For Joy is Not for the Unarmed

 

the fight for joy is not for the unarmed

This is very true.

I found that when I received the news of my son’s accident-it was Scripture I had hidden in my heart that helped me stand.

My Bible was available, but I could not open it. My heart was too broken to read.

But the Spirit brought to mind exactly what I needed from the storehouse of Scripture hidden in my heart.

I am still fighting for joy.  

I still have days when my Bible lies unopened beside me.  

And it is still those verses engraved on my heart that help me battle on.  

DCIM100MEDIA
DCIM100MEDIA

 

 

Bereavement: How Other People Can Help

I ran across this infographic awhile ago and LOVE how it puts things in an easy to see and easy to follow format.

It’s a great tool-not only for those grieving the loss of a loved onebut for anyone going through a rough patch.  

bereavement how others can help graphic

Choosing to Be a Lighthouse

There are two ways to deal with the scars pain leaves behind: try to cover them up or display them boldly.

Hiding seems the easier way so many times-because the scars are tender and the last thing I want is to invite more pain.  But it takes great effort and is rarely successful.

The edges peek out here and there and then I’m left awkwardly trying to explain how I got them and what they mean.

If I refuse to hide my scars and instead lay them open to the world, I am vulnerable, true. But I am also in a position to help others who are suffering the same pain that etched those scars in my heart.

business-authenticity

 

 

So I choose not to hide.  

I choose to be a lighthouse.  

 

 

Not because I think I can steer others clear of the rocks of loss and sorrow, but because I want them to know they are not alone.

the scars you share become lighthouses

 

 

 

Strong or Weak? How Labels Harm the Hurting

Labels and categories can be helpful.  When cruising the grocery aisles I’m thankful for the signs that point the way to “vegetables” or “baking needs”.

But labels can be harmful when applied to people.

Read the rest here:  Strong or Weak? How Labels Harm the Hurting

No Mirrors, Please!

I hate mirrors.  Not because I’m ashamed of my wrinkles or my fat hips.  But because the face staring back at me now is not one I recognize.

I see someone who’s supposed to be me and can’t quite place her.

There’s a vague resemblance to the person that used to look me in the eye while I was brushing my teeth or fixing my hair.

But now, she is “other”, unfamiliar, strange in a “slightly off” kind of way.

I often laugh and smile but I’m rarely in front of a reflective surface when giggles animate my face and redraw it in the old, familiar outline.

My resting face looks old and sad and tired.

The eyes that used to be clear are clouded.  The mouth that more often than not was turned up in at least a hint of a smile is, at best, a straight line and, at worst, a frown. Deep lines show that I spend most of my days squinting, as if I’m searching the distant horizon for a glimpse of something that SHOULD be there but is just out of sight.

I can’t erase what grief has etched in flesh.

So I try not to look.

heart and wood

 

The ETHICAL Way to Share

I hate that there is a need to even address this topic.

Call me naive, but when I started writing for (primarily) an audience  who had also suffered child loss, I assumed we would be of one accord in protecting each others’ hearts.  But that has proven false.

So here we are-one more time.

How should I share the words of another?  What is the RIGHT way to use a blog post or FB post or quote from an online or offline article on my own timeline that resonates deeply with my heart?

And, most importantly, when should I NOT share?

Let me just begin by saying that this is not about “credit”-my blog and most blogs I read are not monetized in any way.  The authors are sharing because they are passionate about exposing their hearts in the hope it will help another heart just a little bit.

That said, it’s important to understand that in sharing, I (and others) are choosing vulnerability when we could choose to hide.

hands-passing-heart

So when someone steals our words (maybe changes them just a little) and posts them as their own, they are stealing our identity-and in my case, since the blog is about my grief journey after losing my son-they are stealing his identity as well.

IMG_2637

And that is a terrible thing to do.

The RIGHT WAY to share a blog post is this:

  • If it has been shared on a social media platform with the setting on “public” you may simply share it directly from there.  I post each day’s blog on my personal FB page that way as well as on the public page Heartache and Hope.
  • If it has been shared in a closed group, click through to the blog itself and share using the social media buttons at the bottom of the post.
  • It’s NOT ok to copy/paste the blog in its entirety and post it on your own timeline. Even if you use quotes and give the link, it is typically seen as being your work and is then shared around the Internet without proper credit.  Someone did this with one of my posts and it was shared tens of thousands of times before I found out about it.  My heart, my story, my relationship with my son and my tearsMY identity.  And it hurt. Now it floats in cyberspace without my permission and without anyone knowing it was my Dominic who inspired it.

The RIGHT WAY to share another person’s Facebook post is this:

  • If the person has set it on “public” you can share using the “share” option at the bottom of the post.  This way it shows where it originated.
  • If the person has limited the audience, ask if it’s OK if you share.  Once permission is granted, you can share it the same way OR , if they agree, you may copy and paste but should use quotation marks to indicate the words are not your own.
  • If someone has shared something in a closed group you SHOULD NOT share it. Period. Those groups are intended to be safe spaces where what goes on in them, stays in them. It is never, never, never acceptable to copy and paste a post or comment from these groups and make it public.

That’s it.  It boils down to the same rules we learned in high school: if you didn’t write it, cite it appropriately so your audience knows that.

Otherwise it is theft.

I love for people to share the blog.  I love that my words speak truths that echo how their heart feels.

But please, please, please do not pretend they are YOUR words.

do unto others rainbow words

 

 

 

Gold Medal in Wrestling [Thoughts]

I’m driving down the highway listening to the morning news brief.  A quick mention that Paris is likely to get the bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics draws my attention.

I begin to do the math-when are the next Olympics? Oh, yes-2020.  Three years away.

Double the time I’ve been without Dominic.

How old will I be in 2024?  Sixty-one!  How many years will it be THEN since I last held my son’s hand, hugged his neck, heard his voice?

This happens in a flash. My heart goes from “just fine” to “I can’t believe this is my life” in sixty seconds.

But I can’t stay here.  If I do the day will be shot.  I won’t accomplish a thing because despair will drag me under and only a good night’s sleep will have hope of restoring me.

So I don’t.  I grab those thoughts and wrestle them to the ground.  I pin them with the truth that no matter how many years it is between when I last saw Dominic and when I join him in Heaven they will be short and swift in light of eternity.

I take comfort in accepting that my vantage point is limited to my handful of experiences in this life and to what I can see with my own eyes. But God sees the whole sweep of eternity, from beginning to end. I have found Him to be a relentlessly good and loving God. Because of my confidence in His character, I can rest in knowing that someday, someday, Katie’s [Dominic’s] short life and premature death will make sense to me. Someday God will scoop me, too, into His arms, and I will step into a world that until that moment I could only sense and never see. I will finally get it. And I will see Him face to face.

And you know who else I will see face-to-face on that day?

I will see Katie [Dominic].

Yes, God is merciful.

~September Vaudrey, Colors of Goodbye

I resist the pressure to give up and push back with the strength that comes from knowing that my opponent is no match for the Champion that fights for me.

the lord will fight for you

 

I Am Enough Because HE is Enough

It’s interesting how God gives a similar message to many in His family around the same time.  My friend and fellow bereaved mom, Kathleen Duncan posted just yesterday Dear Momma Who’s Feeling Not Enough.  She had no idea that I had this post lined up over a week ago for today.  So maybe we should all take a  moment to realize that we ARE enough-just us.  Because of Christ, we ARE enough.  ❤

It has taken me decades to internalize the message that I don’t have anything to prove.

It has taken many, many heartbreaking moments to realize that no matter how hard I try to please everyone and met each expectation held over my head, I will fail.

It has taken diets and restrictive clothing and false faces painted on with make up to understand that my body is not the best representation of who I really am.

It has taken years of self-talk to rub out the negativity stamped on the inside of my brain and behind my eyelids.

I am just now (at 53 years old!) learning to lean into my identity in Christ and turn my back on the false identity the world and the enemy of my soul wants me to embrace.

chosen daughter

But the truth is that IF Christ took it ALL to the cross (and I believe He did), then there’s nothing left to prove.

And if there is nothing left to prove then I am truly free.

I’m free to eat and drink to the glory of God instead of eating and drinking to craft  my body into a shrine of perfection and youth.

I’m free of people pleasing and set free to please God (even when it doesn’t please people).

I’m free of trying to impress the neighbors and free to impart the good news of the Gospel-no strings attached.

I am free to be the me I was created to be.

let whatever you do today be enough

Anxiety is Awful!

I’ve written before about anxiety and child loss here.  No matter the cause of death, the FACT of a child’s death seems to create the perfect conditions for a parent’s body and mind to experience anxiety, dis-ease, fear and often a sense of impending doom.

My world was rocked to its foundation the moment I heard the words, “He was killed in a motorcycle accident”.  

The worst thing I could imagine had come true.  

There was no protection from it happening again, no guarantee that THIS unbearable pain would be the ONLY unbearable pain I would have to carry.

I think my body chemistry was instantly transformed that morning to include rapid heartbeats, shallow breathing and a horrible creepy tension that climbs my spine and clenches its claws tightly at the base of my skull.

Before Dominic left us for Heaven I was not an anxious person.

No matter what happened, I generally took it in stride, looked for a solution and moved forward armed with an arsenal of choices to meet the problem head on.

Now, I can be pushed into a corner by an ordinary phone call that lasts too long.  I can feel trapped if a price fails to ring up properly and I have to wait to have it corrected by a head cashier.  I can become positively frantic when I reach in  my purse and can’t find my keys even though I know for a fact I put them there and if I look a bit harder I’ll find them.

Traffic makes my heart go pitter-patter.  The doorbell sends me flying to make sure it’s the UPS man and not another police officer to tell me heartbreaking news.

If I try to multi-task (which I rarely do) I am soon overwhelmed and have to sit down to catch my breath.

I only shop in stores where I’m familiar with the aisles and where products I need are shelved.

I check and re-check directions if I have to go to an unfamiliar address and leave with double the time needed to get there in case I get lost.  Making on-the-fly course corrections doesn’t happen.

I pull off and have to figure out where I am.

And heaven forbid the phone rings past midnight -I wake with a start and even a wrong number means I won’t sleep for the rest of the night.

This is not “worry”.  It’s not “borrowing trouble from tomorrow”.  It is not an indication that my faith is weak or I’m “caving in” to my feelings.

It’s an uncontrollable physiological response to various stimuli.

So please, please don’t judge me or other bereaved parents for making choices about where we go, when we go and how much we go-most of the time we are anticipating an anxious response and trying to beat it.  

We are doing the best we can.  

Honest.

courage doesn't always roar male liion