Saturday, May 7, 2022

REFLECTIONS ON MOTHER'S DAY AND FATHER'S DAY


Every year in the United States Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May and Father's Day on the the third Sunday in June. Other countries around the world celebrate these same days on different dates. 

For those of us who have lost a child, these days come with mixed feelings, even dread. I have to admit, when someone kindly offers me a "Happy Mother's Day" greeting, even after all the years my son and only child Chris has been gone, I am a bit taken back. I say to myself, "Why are they saying that? They know my son died." But I always graciously accept their well wishes. I have decided Mother's Day is a day for concentrating on good memories of my son and not on my losing him.

I came to this conclusion one time when I was talking to a neighbor who was a new Mom. We were discussing how much having a baby and a child changes, but enlarges and enriches, a parent's life. I told her even though Chris had died, I would not trade the experience of having him in my life even to avoid this awful final pain. And today, I still would not. So this is what Mother's Day means to me and, I assume, my well wishers.

Being a parent opens up a new world to both mothers and fathers. A world full of joys, good memories, sacrifices, sorrows, and yes, loss for some of us. On the balance, we have these very good memories and watching our children achieve many milestones. The feelings of pride in their accomplishments. The enlarging of our own humanity when we have to make sacrifices for our children. Like planning a romantic evening or getaway weekend, only to have our kid get hurt at school or in sports or develop a 104 fever. Plans cancelled because we cannot and would not leave our precious child. These experiences only serve to strengthen the bond between parent and child. For most of us, our children always come first.

I am sure we all know people who don't have kids by choice.  I have found them to be somewhat unaware of the love, pride, flexibility, sacrifice and responsibility it takes to be a parent. I think it is an unfortunate void for them. Love comes with pain. But the love and enrichment children bring to one's life can never be replaced or eradicated. Would any of us wanted to have lived without our parenthood experiences? Personally, I would not. 

I made the decision not to go to the cemetery tomorrow on Mother's Day. I don't want to focus on Chris' loss. Instead I will remain home. I will put a candle and flowers by a memorial stone plaque I have on my balcony. There are words carved into it which say, "If tears could build a staircase and memories a lane, I would walk right up to heaven and bring you home again." Who of us would not? But it was not meant to be. 

Children are a gift from God. They are on loan to us. Sometimes, due to the many trials and imperfections of our earthly existence, they are returned back to God before we, as their parents, are.  Make no mistake. Our children are in God's good care even though we rather that they were still in our care. They are all right in the care and beauty of His Divine Light. 

On Mother's Day, I will have a dinner toast to my son with my husband. I will thank God for the six loving step-children he has brought into my life. I will pray to Chris. Share with him some of my memories. Tell him how proud I am of him. What a good young man he was. Tell him I believe he is safe and happy. Ask him if he is happy for me. I will relish in his spirit. The spirits of all our children which will remains with us always despite their physical absence. I will pray for peace and strength for myself and for all of you, dear mothers and fathers.

God takes care of us if will will open our hearts to Him and extend out our hands. This really came home to me when my husband said to me, "Nature knows how to take care of itself." Does not the Gospel of Matthew admonish us not to worry. It points to the birds of the air and lilies of the fields as being in God's care, "...though they labor not..." And goes on to ask if such small things are important to God, what about us? How much more must He love and care for us who are so bereaved and for our dearly departed children who have returned to Him?

May you each have the best day you can have on your day. Our lives can move forward in sorrow. With faith and hope we move bit by bit from profound grief. Try to take these two days to remember your deceased child's life, not loss. And be present with your living children who remain God's blessings to you. Hold on tight to them. Let them know how much you love them.

May we find the words to speak, the way to walk and the life to live.

Love, Rosemarie

                               "Surely, there is a future and your hope will not be cut off."

                                                                                              Proverbs 23:18







  


Thursday, January 27, 2022

REFLECTIONS ON LOSS AND LOVE

When we lose a child, it is both a raw and totally numbing feeling. The loss is all encompassing. There is no past, no future, only a present and pervasive pain. I think when my son died, for the first time, I actually understood the term, "primal scream." We find ourselves asking these questions. How can I go on? How did this happen? What should I do? How can I manage? Will this pain ever end? We also find we have no answers. This is grief in its initial phase. Many questions, but no answers to be had.

What helped me emerge from this acute pain, numbness and constant fatigue was a resolve to get through it and go on. I literally woke up one morning, looked at the dog and asked her, "What are we going to do Ambie? Chrissy is gone and Daddy is gone?" As always, she looked at me and slowly wagged her tail. The grief affected her as well. She moved from sleeping on one corner of the bed where she could see out the windows and over the whole development. Instead, she moved to sleeping on the opposite corner of the bed where she could see out the bedroom door to watch the stairs. She seemed to be waiting for Chris to return home, to come up the stairs and go into his room. Amber clearly missed Chris. She slept in that same spot every night for the rest of her long life.

I sat up in bed and put my feet on the floor. I looked back at my dog. She needed me and I needed her. I suddenly said to myself, "I can either let this destroy me or carry on." In that instant I chose to go on. I realized after all my years experience as a nurse, "No one wants to be around a constantly angry and bitter person," regardless of the cause. That negativity pushes people away. The very people we need to give us love and support during grief. 

I am not saying we cannot express grief, bitterness or anger. However, it is best done in private or with a few selected family members or friends or in a grief support group. If this does not help, perhaps it might be time to seek the assistance of a professional counselor. The main thing is to avoid isolation. Accept help and appropriate friendly gestures. I had two very good friends who helped me get through those early days. Grief and loss of a child is a journey with a long road with steps forward and steps backwards. Navigating this road takes resolve and courage. Moving forward is doable, but not easy. Still, it can be done with determination, faith and prayer.

It may not seem like it now, but with effort you can move forward. Notice, I am not saying moving on or closure. We do not "move on" after the death of a child and there is no such thing as "closure." The death of a child is like an unfinished book with missing chapters. So many milestones never reached or witnessed by us. But, we can move on to a productive, meaningful life. We can try to establish some kind of remembrance of our child. Or attach some good to come out of our child's death by giving help to other kids and parents or preventing similar tragedies.

It took me some time to finally re-socialize. I was alone for 17 years. Then God shed his light upon me with a wonderful, kind, compassionate, strong, intelligent, creative and funny man. He was a widower who had also taken care of his wife during a long illness. After five years, we married just recently. We understood each other other's lives. We both understand we each had a late spouse who we loved for many years. He was married for 51 years, me for 28. We understand we need to have pictures of our late spouses, go to the cemetery and even call each other by our previous spouse's name on occasion. I suppose instead of a mistake, that is really a compliment. Anyway, we laugh about it. No meltdown or writing to "Dear Abby." Our late spouses will always be our previous spouses. 

He has six children, ten grandchildren  and several great grandchildren. I went from being alone to marriage and a very large, wonderful, loving step-family. I thank God everyday for my new husband and what he has brought to my life and for the good fortune and happiness God has bestowed on me. My new husband and I both agree that we needed each other. My husband is an immeasurable help and support to me. I try to support him as well. I never dreamed my life would move in this direction and that I could be so happy after so many years of drought. Thank you, God.

I still think of my son and late husband every day, several if not many times a day. I feel loss. I probably always will as I know my new husband does. But it is seldom overwhelming like before. We have both learned to live with loss and past difficult times and memories. We have each other to lean on for support. Nothing will ever be the same as seeing my son grow into maturity and possibly marry and have kids. In life, we take the wins we can get. Life has no Super Bowls or winning every game. I just hope and pray my son and late husband are happy for me. My late husband's family like my new husband very much as do my family and many friends.

When dark days come, and they do, do not despair. Remember: "The voice of life is soft so we must listen hard."  (Anonymous Author)  There is a spark of life in us even in our most desperate times. Search for it.

God bless. May He bring us all strength, peace and future good and loving memories to grasp. 

 With love, Rosemarie


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

REFUGE NEEDED FOR TORNADO VICTIMS


My sincere condolences to all those families, especially the heartbroken parents, who lost loved ones in the recent tornadoes in several states. It is particularly tragic, as of this writing, among the many who lost their lives were twelve children, including a two month old infant. She initially survived the tornado, but later succumbed to her injuries. Many more people are still missing. As I see the destruction, I wonder how will they ever be found. 

This is all so difficult to process. So much loss and destruction in a pattern of tornadoes not usually seen. The images seen on the media look worse than war zones. As we try to fathom all this, we always ask how and why did this happen. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find those answers. We can never underestimate the power of nature. I suppose we are all but tiny specks in the whole of the physical universe.

I am sure that many of the victims are still in shock as they sift through the rubble of what was once their homes and businesses. Plus living conditions are quite difficult without power, water, sanitation, food, clothing, diapers, baby formula and medications. Let us hope and pray sufficient aid and help arrives quickly. Donations are being accepted by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. I am sure many faith based and private organizations will all be soliciting donations as well. Let us all be generous within our means.

Though some may be thinking God has abandoned them, that never happens. God is always there. It may very difficult if not impossible to get through such a tragedy without faith and prayer. When times are darkest we must reach our hands out to God. He will grasp them. With God all things are possible. Grief, recovery and rebuilding will no doubt be a very long and tremendously difficult process. God will be with all those who are suffering. God will be with those who aid in the recovery efforts. "Ask and you shall receive." If you have been directly affected, ask for faith, wisdom and the strength, mentally and physically, to go on. Ask for some miracles. 

The two greatest commandments are: "To love the Lord thy God above all things" and "To love thy neighbor as thyself." Myself and I know the whole country are praying for the people and towns ravaged by these tornadoes. I know with the business of the holidays, we tend to forget what we are not directly involved in. I ask please, do not forget those who are suffering.


                                               "Under His wings, you will find refuge." 

                                                                               Psalms 91:4


Friday, December 3, 2021

   


                                                    PREVENTING SCHOOL SHOOTINGS


Just finished listening to the press conference of by the Oakland County Prosecutor about the recent Michigan school shooting. Very alarming! Not only has this been a horrendously tragic event, but seems it did not need to happen. Four families have suffered the irrevocable loss of a child. My deepest condolences and sympathy to these devastated parents, families and friends. I am sure all of you will join me in praying for these parents, families, friends and the school community.

Speaking of the school, please bear with me as I rip into these Michigan school officials. Having been a school nurse for 38 years, 30 of which were in high school, I see absolute dereliction of duty by this high school principal. Faculty members brought to the attention of the principal the student's disturbing texts, drawings and social media postings. Based on these alone, the student's backpack and locker should have been searched immediately and/or the police called.

Two interviews with the parents could not have failed to demonstrate their lack of cooperation, comprehension and irresponsibility. Clearly, the one drawing which the student made indicated he was a danger to himself and to others. There is no way the principal should have allowed the parents to leave and let their son returned to class. He had the gun in his backpack the whole time! Again, police should have been called and an immediate report made to Child Protective Services.

Like I said, this tragedy didn't need to happen Should never have happened. A school principal has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the students in the school. Every school district has a detailed procedure manual which would include the steps to follow in the event of a security threat and also a mental health crisis. The principal could have consulted with the school resource officer, school district security head and the school superintendent. There is never a question in any school district of what to do. 

As the facts come out, the bereaved parents will have to wrestle with the knowledge that their children should not have been killed. It is so difficult to accept the death of a child, but knowing your child's death was preventable is a very bitter pill to swallow. I these believe these school administrators should face some level of criminal culpability and most certainly civil liability along with the school district.

Something else should be done nationwide. All school districts should have metal detectors in all high schools. All students, parents and visitors to the school must go through the metal detector before being allowed into the school building. I worked for a large urban school district in a large crime ridden city for 24 years. There was never a shooting inside a school building during these many years.

To some of you, metal detectors may seem draconian. I ask you, to what lengths should school districts go in order to save the lives of students? What will it take to protect mainly high school students across the country? This was a gun purchased legally, but given by clueless parents to a very disturbed son. It was not against the law for their son to have access to the gun and also to practice at a firing range. But, there are probably more illegal guns on the streets of America than legal guns. Illegal guns in the hands of teenagers. 

I ask you, though, how can a teen-ager be safer in a high school in a city with high crime rates than in suburban high school in an area with much less crime? My answer: metal detectors. You might not like this answer. Might think it is a violation of your child's rights. Might think it turns the school into a jail. Well, if you fly anywhere or go to well known amusement parks, you and your children, even young ones, will go through a metal detector.  Your child's greatest right is the right to life. 

Every high school in America must be made safe. Surveys have shown that teen-agers in the United States are fearful of being shot or killed in their own schools. This stress is damaging and most likely contributes to teen depression. We should want and we need better environments in America's high schools. School districts must take steps to put a stop to school shootings. 


     

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Bereavement During Illness and Pain

     This season is usually a difficult time of remembrance for me. My son, Chris, died on September 24th followed by the death of my husband, Fred, six weeks later on November 2nd. Then the holidays fast approach. We "should" have feelings of anticipation and joy, not feelings of dread and the loss of someone and something missing. 

     Usually I win the battle of melancholy this time of year by focusing on my blessings and keeping busy on the the people I love who remain. Doing as much as possible for them.

     However, this year has been a challenge due to illness, severe back pain for several months. It seems I have developed a cyst on my upper lumbar spine which is causing pressure, narrowing in the spinal column and a small herniated disc. The pain has been terrible and very inconvenient. It has necessitated three spinal epidural injections and strong pain medication.  Before I could get relief, I got into a very bad depression with some very dark thoughts. I needed counseling and medication.

     I have relied a great deal on prayer to get me through this dark time. Along with prayer I listened to relaxing music, talked to friends, sought professional counseling, stayed persistent with medical intervention and remembered my son and husband. I prayed to them to ask them to get "Mom" through in my moments of worst pain when I thought I couldn't bear it anymore. The pain pills weren't enough. 

     Somehow they did. The spirits of our loved ones are always with us. Watching over us. Taking care of us. I have decisions to make about treatment options. I am sure Chris and Fred will guide me and watch over me there too. 

     To all of you, Be Well! Peace and May You Find Your Own Joy and Blessed Season! 


                      

                                                                

                                 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Releasing Your Private Pain

     My son, Chris, died 21 years ago on September 24th five days after his 23rd birthday on September 19th.  My grief seemed to hit me particularly hard this year. Maybe it was the effect of the prolonged isolation from COVID-19 and battling another type of infection myself this past week.

     Anyway, it all came to a head when my nephew shared with me some memories he had of Chris. I was so touched that somehow the flood of tears just started to flow. I think of Chris everyday, but I do not cry everyday. That day I did.

     It has been a struggle ever since. Thankfully, my companion/friend understands. He is supportive for which I am very fortunate. He has had loss in his own life, not a child, but he can understand. I am grateful for his love and kindness.

     It is also a relief to be able to write and to put my pain and sorrow into words. Pouring out the words and emotions acts as a release of my private pain. This curbs my desire to run and hide in my closet and go to a dark place alone with my pain. I would be in private with my pain not letting anyone know where I was or how I felt.

     I am sure many of you have had the desire to run and hide. I urge you if you are having a bad time to find someone to talk to or even call your local or National Hotline where you live. In the USA the National Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK. 

     Or do as I am doing. Pour your thoughts out on paper, tablet, phone or computer. Just get them down. You are not being graded on grammar, spelling or punctuation. The important thing is to get your emotions out. Don't be afraid of your tears. They are a necessary release. You can even write a letter to your son or daughter. If you want, you can bury the letter at their grave in the cemetery, place it in his or her room or put it in another safe, private place. 

     Get started doing something. You will feel better taking action rather than doing nothing. May God grant you energy, strength and peace. I am praying for you.  

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Loss of Friendship

     There are many kinds of losses, such as loss of friendship.  Loss of a friendship can be very troubling. Although it is not a death, it can be quite painful and distressing. For the injured party, it raises a lot of questions. Why the end to our friendship? What happened? What did I do?

     I had a dear friend, one of two best friends, who told me in an email after 60 years of friendship that she no longer wished to be my friend. I was devastated. We had shared everything. She was one of the main people who had supported me through the deaths of my son and husband. I pleaded with her to please not do this. To please stay friends with me. 

     However, in her mind I had crossed some sort of social line. I was in a relationship she didn't approve of and therefore, I had to go. End of story.  She explained relationships go through phases and in our case, ours was going in a phase of distancing itself. Distancing after 60 years? Are you kidding me? I was distraught, beside myself. What could I do to fix this?

     Apparently nothing! I wasn't going to end my relationship to please her. And fortunately, I did not as it has worked out very well.  My friendship, though, is still on the ropes. I am hurt beyond words. I miss my friend, spending time with her, her family and being in her home. We used to bake Christmas cookies together every year. She was the baker and I was the assistant. We saw each other every week--lunches, craft shows, designer houses, movies, shopping. Now gone. 

     I won't say over. I know she has a new set of friends. They play bridge and volunteer at her local library. She has a set of friends who pre-dated me. But I don't think any of them had or have the special bond we had. I still have hope she may contact me one day. Who knows. Maybe I will send her an email and see if she responds. If she doesn't, then maybe I will have to acknowledge the loss. Perhaps she has changed and we are indeed no longer friends. Sadly, I will regret that day.

                                           "A friend is one who knows you as you are,
                                             understands you as you have been, accepts
                                             what you have become, and still gently
                                             allows you to grow."
                                                                               William Shakespeare