I want to be everything my living children need me to be.
I try hard to celebrate them, be available, listen closely and love them well.
I never, ever want them to feel they are competing with their missing brother for my affection or my attention.
But I’d be lying if I said it was always easy.
Sometimes the happy moment so closely resembles a shared memory that includes Dominic, my heart takes my head in directions I wish it wouldn’t go. Sometimes it’s a long awaited once-in-a-lifetime occasion and Dom’s absence is a giant, gaping hole everywhere I look.
It’s really hard to be stuck at the crossroad of being happy for a child still here while mourning and missing the child that’s gone.
I’ve had to do that many, many times in the five years since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven and I’ve found a couple of things that help.
I put something in my pocket or wear a piece of jewelry that is a token of my love for Dominic.
It helps me feel as if he’s represented even if no one else knows about it. Then I lean in and take hold of the celebration as best as I can. When I feel overwhelmed, I touch my little token and/or escape to a quiet corner or bathroom for a minute or two and collect myself.
I also try to do something called “pre-grieving”.
I allow myself time early in the morning of an event to be alone and cry if I need to. If the tears won’t come, I listen to music that helps my heart reach that place of release. I journal my feelings. I walk through the day and admit where it might be especially challenging. I think through how I can deal with that and make a plan.
It makes a difference.
So much has been stolen from my surviving children.
I don’t want them robbed of their mama too.