My Sixth Mother’s Day as a Bereaved Mother

When it first happened all I could think about was getting through a minute, then a day and then all the decisions and days leading up to a funeral or memorial service.  

There’s no road map.  

Even when others come alongside (and many, many did!) there’s just no easy way to navigate that part of the journey.

And then I realized that in addition to all the “regular” days that absolutely, positively  break your heart, I had to forge a path through “special” days.

It was overwhelming!

Mother’s Day was especially challenging that first year.  Our loss was fresh and we’d had to acknowledge and celebrate two graduations and a wedding was about a month away.  How in the world could I honor my living children and also safeguard my broken heart?

We muddled through by having Mother’s Day at my daughter’s apartment co-hosted by some of her sweetest and most compassionate friends.  Not a lot of fanfare, but good food, good company and a quiet acknowledgment of Dom’s absence but also my living children’s presence.

It was a gift. 

This is my sixth Mother’s Day.  Every year is different.  Every year presents new challenges and every year things change.  

Since discovering there is an International Bereaved Mother’s Day my heart has taken advantage of having a day to think about and honor Dominic and then another day to think about and honor my living children.

That helps.  

I wrote this post three years ago but can’t really improve on it so I’ll share it again.  I pray that each heart who finds Mother’s Day hard will lean in and take hold of the hem of His garment. 

It’s really the only way.  

Read the rest here:  Mother’s Day as a Bereaved Mother

 

Child Loss by Addiction

We talk about a lot of things as if they didn’t reflect a real person and a real life.  

Addiction is one of them.  And let me just tell you, every single number is a life and behind every single life is a family.  

Statistics are easy to toss around until one of those numbers represents YOUR child.

My son was killed in a single-vehicle motorcycle accident.  One of the 76 individuals who died on a motorcycle in Alabama in 2014.  If you look it up, you’ll find tables printed with clean edges and comparative data one year to the next.

But if you look at me-and hold up a photo from BEFORE-you’ll see grief etched into a mama’s face that can’t be measured, sifted or weighed.  

My son was not an addict.  He was a health nut.  But he liked his motorcycle and never saw the contradiction between spending hours at the gym then putting that beautiful body on a fast moving, unprotected engine-on-wheels.  A helmet was not enough to protect him that night.  

Addicts don’t start out wanting the life so many of them end up living.  They take a puff or a pill or a drink and think it’s all in fun.  They have no way to know that the one moment of weakness or even purposeful exploration may result in a lifetime of struggle.

Once caught in the cycle of craving and crawling out and caving again they may or may not eventually find the light.  They may or may not become sober for the rest of their days.  They may or may not have the inner strength, the outside support, the medical intervention and inpatient treatment they need to conquer this demon.

And it is a demon.  

Addiction is never a choice even when the first indulgence into drugs or alcohol is.  

no idea of the battle addiction quote

Parents living with addicted children do everything they can to guide them to help.  They try tough love, abundant grace, boundaries, threats and rewards.  Some even move their families to try to escape habitual influences on their child-hoping against hope that a new place and new friends will create a safe space where addiction can’t flourish.

It rarely works.  In the end, addiction takes too many of our children.  Addiction kills.

And the wreckage left the other side of those deaths is enormous.  It’s messy and ugly and hard to sort through.  

The one thing NO parent of an addicted child needs is someone else’s misguided advice on how they could have “saved” his or her child.  They don’t need quips about “seeing it coming”.  They don’t need anyone to heap shame on them because of the choices their child made and the disease that robbed them of choice in the end.

So when we talk about addiction and numbers and treatment and responsibility and especially death, we need to remember that every single statistic is a person. 

Every single person has a family.

And that family is devastated.  

Speak gently.  Extend grace.  Offer love.  

They already know shame.  

shame for being human

Grief Changes

This life is not all sadness and sorrow, death and darkness.  

It was.  For a very, very long time all I could see was distant flickers of light.  

They were just enough to keep me going but not enough to lift the utter blackness that surrounded me.  

Now I would characterize life as hazy gray-most things still filtered through a lens of grief but generally brighter.  

I can see and feel the change.  It’s not as hard to get up most mornings.  Not as hard to put dates on a calendar.  Not as hard to commit to social activities and to actually show up.  Not as hard to talk about family life with strangers and acquaintances.  Not as hard to do so many things that were practically impossible in the first weeks, months and years.

I am so, so grateful.  

And there are good things-very good things-happening in my family.  

I’m even more grateful for those.  

A baby who could have had a sad story has a happy one!  He is growing and grinning and getting ready (within the month, we think) to escape the hospital.  His dad is home from deployment.  His mom is healing like a champ from severe illness and from her surgery.  They are forming a happy trio and full of love.

ryker smiling

A wedding is less than two weeks away!  After some (typical) stress and struggle things are falling into place.  My daughter is joining her life to a good man and that fills my heart with joy.

fiona and brandon at farm

My niece is graduating high school.  All the kids in that generation are grown ups just as we finally added one to begin the next.

My mother and father are still here to enjoy these things.  

If you are afraid you will never, ever feel joy again, I understand.  That was one of the most frightening aspects of early days and months and years.  I could not imagine having that heavy, dark cloud envelope me for the rest of my life.

It seems impossible it could ever be otherwise.  

But I’m here to tell you-it doesn’t have to be that way.  If you reach for the tiny lights you can just barely see in the distance and make whatever feeble and faltering steps forward, your heart will learn to feel something besides sorrow again.

At first it may only be a split-second when a smile nearly, but not quite, crosses your lips.

Then it might be an hour when you realize you’ve actually been completely engaged and present with your family or good friend.

One day you will be slipping into bed and think, “Today was a pretty good day”.  It will shock you, sadden you  and encourage you all at the same time.

It’s not a smooth upward journey that lands you out of the pit of grief.

It’s a bumpy road that tosses you around.  Highs and lows, ups and downs.  And it lasts a lifetime.

But if you purpose to hold on with both hands, to stay the course, keep heading toward the bits of light, laughter, love and loveliness teasing you in the distance, you will make progress.

Bad things have happened-the worst, in fact. 

Bad things still happen. 

But good things happen too.  

Very good things.  

I want to be present for them, don’t you?

courage is always an act of love

International Bereaved Mother’s Day 2019: An Open Letter to my Fellow Sisters in Loss

Dear Mama,

I know that you never-in your wildest imagination-thought that you would need a day set aside for your broken heart and your empty arms.  

Who thinks when they learn a new life is growing inside that this same life might be cut short?  What heart is brave enough to consider the possibility? 

Yet here you are.  

I’m so, so sorry.  

Read the rest here:  International Bereaved Mother’s Day: An Open Letter to my Fellow Sisters in Loss

International Bereaved Mother’s Day 2019

International Bereaved Mother’s Day is observed the Sunday before Mother’s Day in the United States.  This year it’s tomorrow, May 5, 2019.

I didn’t even know such a day existed until I was a mom that needed it.

Read the rest here:  International Bereaved Mother’s Day

Repost: How to Pray for Your Brokenhearted Friend

We’ve all been there-someone we love receives a terminal diagnosis, someone we care about loses a family member, her husband walks away from their marriage of twenty years, his addicted child hasn’t made contact in months.

The list is endless.

This life is hard and broken hearts abound.

What to do?

I’ve written extensively about the many practical ways a friend or family member can reach out and walk beside a wounded heart.

Choosing to offer compassionate companionship is the greatest gift you can give.

But there is another way you can help.  You can carry the one you love to the Throne of Grace and intercede on his or her behalf with the One Who can be there when you just can’t.

I’ve learned the hard way that many situations are not fixable. 

Read the rest here:  How To Pray For Your Brokenhearted Friend

HOLY WEEK 2019: Resurrection, Reality and Reassurance

“The worst conceivable thing has happened, and it has been mended…All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ~Julian of Norwich

I’m not sure when I first read this quote, but it came to my mind that awful morning.   And I played it over and over in my head, reassuring my broken heart that indeed, the worst had already happened, and been mended.

Death had died.

Christ was risen-the firstfruits of many brethren.

Read the rest here:  Resurrection: Reality and Reassurance