Thursday, December 8, 2022

DECEMBER HOLIDAYS WHEN DARKNESS IS OUR FOCUS

 I was motivated to write this blog by a discussion of the Psalms with a group of women I joined in this spiritual exploration. This title was inspired by the last line in verse 18 of Psalm 88. The Psalm is a "Cry for Help" in Lamentations.

Whether we celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or any combination, we are expected to be happy, merry and bright. That is a heavy lift when we have suffered the loss of a child whether recently or some time ago. There will always be an empty seat at the table, a missing place at religious services, an empty seat on the plane, missing gifts and a somber visit to the cemetery. Along with many lost dreams and never achieved milestones.

So how do we get through the holiday season under these circumstances? Forcing ourselves, sometimes, to take part in festivities when we we would rather be alone with our thoughts. How can we be there for our living children, our spouses and other family and friends? 

Remember, God has given us this time with other family and friends. We still have someone. Someone who loves us and wants us to love them. Living children, spouses, our siblings and our own parents. Of course it would be even better if our deceased children could be with us, but they cannot. So, let's focus, instead, on the people, place and time at hand.

I know we may feel we are playing a role, but that's okay. We often feel we are leading two lives--one with a happy face and I have it all together. And the other face screaming, "What is wrong with you people? Why don't you understand I lost a child and I cannot really be here with you." It's okay. This is the way it will be. In time, the two identities will merge into one more collected version of ourselves. We can learn to get through our grief. Holidays will get easier as our grief gets less raw. Or some of us may go overboard with celebrations to cope with our grief. We do what we can to handle celebrations in our own way.

I would advise avoiding large gatherings if you can. I lost my son in mid-September, my husband in early November and suddenly Christmas arrived. I remember being at one gathering where I felt like Mary Lincoln. As if everyone was staring at me and waiting for me to go mad. Another, I had to leave a party of co-workers, because another nurse was going on in detail about her efforts with students with learning disabilities. My son, Chris, had ADD. I just could not listen to her. Fortunately, the hostess was a very good friend of mine. She had her son move his car. I left by the backdoor to allay my painful memories. So I learned to go to smaller gatherings where I knew everyone very well.

It is still possible to set a place at the table for a missing child. Then have a family toast to our deceased son or daughter. I also bought gifts for my son's room for several years. It just felt good to buy him a present. I still have those gifts today. I think they will follow me to my grave. Either go to the cemetery or not. Do what you can handle. I usually go, but found it difficult to go by myself. I suggest asking a close relative or friend instead of going by yourself. It is easier now because my new husband goes with me. He lost his wife and a granddaughter. So we understand that each other needs to go to the cemetery and keep old photos displayed. 

There will always be people who will make stupid, insensitive remarks to you. The year after my son died, a woman at a Christmas party remarked to me, "I hope you are better now. It's been a year. You should be over all that now." I mention this so you can be prepared. I told the woman it was simply not possible to get over both the deaths of a husband and son in one year. One year's time to "recover" from grief is probably the biggest myth about grief. Also, the concept of closure is a myth. We can have closure in a legal sense if someone is brought to justice for our child's death. Justice helps, but does not bring closure to the death itself. 

The death of a child is like a book with many unfinished chapters. We can imagine or write these chapters in our head or on paper. I believe this can help the grieving process. Or write about our child's happiness, health and safety in heaven. We can assure ourselves of God's mercy and goodness and that our children are being well looked after in the heaven. Try to take comfort in their well being. While we can have faith in our children's well being, I know we would rather have them with us. Of course. We have not reached that spiritual plane. We rely on our human senses. God will and should decide when we will be re-united with our children.

I wish loving thoughts and the best possible Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza for you. I will think of you and pray for you. Please pray for me. Send any comments and follow me below. Thank you. 

Rosemarie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   "Hear my prayer; listen to my cry for help."  Psalm 88: 2


         If you have thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life, call 988 or 911 for help at once!



Monday, November 21, 2022

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

                                 "Do not pray for an easy life, but pray for the strength to get                                                                                          to get through a difficult one."  Bruce Lee

What has happened? Unprecedented violence, evil and hatred abound. The number of grieving parents keeps growing daily. This has been especially violent week in the United States for young people and their parents and families. Seven university students were murdered in two separate incidents. No one arrested in either incident. A driver plowed through a class of 75 sheriff department recruits running in formation. The driver was released "so police could gather more information???" One recruit was killed, one suffered a limb amputation, several others were in critical condition, 25 total injured. An NYC high school paper published an article on the number of their fellow students killed or injured by gunshots on their way to and from school. More grieving and frightened parents and kids. Another night club shooting, thought to be a hate crime, with five persons killed and twenty-five injured. A little girl, in a Christmas parade, was killed in a freak motor vehicle malfunction.

Outside of the US, it is believed 437 children have died in war in the Ukraine. I am surprised the number is not higher. It must be very difficult to get an accurate number in all the devastation. This atrocity must end soon.

Another American young woman was on vacation in Mexico with some supposed friends. She was bludgeoned to death in her bedroom by one person, while another person watched. The "observer" then asked the huge sized attacker to give this petite woman a "chance to fight back." Meanwhile, someone else video taped the whole attack. Before very long, this vicious attack was making the rounds by the hundreds of thousands on all forms of social media and streaming services. 

I have three questions for anyone posting or re-posting this violent, sickening video. Do you think watching someone get helplessly beaten to death is a game or entertainment??? What if this young woman was your sister, cousin, child or good friend? Then what would your reaction be? If you could watch this, get some help. You are in need of counseling, a moral compass and God in your lives. You, obviously, do not understand the value and meaning of life--yours or anyone else's. And to the evil, heartless "friends" who watched her die and then went back to the US without a care, I hope you will soon be locked up in a Mexican jail. Don't look for criminal justice in Mexico. It does not exist. And say good-bye to  your parents when you get arrested. Something your friend never got to do. 

Sadly, more parents have joined our bereavement ranks. A group neither they or we ever wanted to be a part of. If any newly bereaved parents are reading this, I am so sorry for the loss of your child. I extend my sincere sympathy and condolences to you and your families. I know this journey of grief is one you never expected to take. It is a long and difficult road. Please know I and others are here for you in the bleak days ahead. You will not believe or understand this now, but you can get through this by choosing to do so. I beg you, do not let your horrendous loss destroy you.

Your life still has meaning. Others still love you and need you. You still have a life ahead. It will never be the same life. But, it can be a meaningful life once again. You do not see that today, but I and many others, hope and pray you will get there. That you can possibly find a way to prevent others from dying in the manner your child may have. 

My 23 year old son was also tragically shot and killed. His ex-girlfriend did not render him any aid. She lied to the EMT's. Told them my son was a drug overdose. His toxicology screen was clean. She new that because he did not use drugs. The EMT's claim her reason given delayed them. He did not get the help he needed when he needed it. But, she was the daughter of the Mayor of a nearby city. So, no accountability or justice. I have had to swallow several bitter pills. God sees all. She and her father and those involved in this cover-up will get divine justice. My faith, my pastor and the help of four excellent friends got me through to this point. 

Violence is out of control in the US. I recently heard a police spokesman say, that in less than two years, homicides have doubled in the US. That only one-half of homicides are solved. No justice for the other victims and their parents and families. That is extremely alarming. He blamed the spike in homicides on the overwhelming number of ILLEGAL PISTOLS that exist now in the US. 

In the largest city near me, homicides are at an all time high. Robberies and assaults have doubled. Car jackings have more than tripled to an all time high with car owners assaulted. Small children are inadvertently abducted as the criminals speed off with the cars. No one is safe. People are afraid to leave their homes, take public transportation to work or school, get gas or shop for food and clothing.

It is no secret that this blog is spiritually based. Because of my faith, my belief in God and my religious practices all giving me strength and determination, I have survived the loss of my son. My survival, in turn, has allowed me to tell all of you about my experiences with my grief and how I got through it.

Yesterday in a discussion with someone, I was told my beliefs in the power of God and religion are "irrational thoughts." I hope this person reads the above incidents and the following statistics. He expressed a desire for people to have a moral compass and treat each other kindly. I fear that ship is quickly sailing away. I expressed the belief that this was unlikely to happen. Unlikely, because the number of people who believe in God or a Higher Power and attend religious services keeps decreasing.

June 2022  The number of Americans who do not believe in God is 17%, the highest since 1944.

Dec. 2021  Gallup 47% of Americans belong to a House of worship; 53% do not belong

         2021  39% of Americans do not believe religion is important, influenced by demographics & politics

         2021  Pew---only 25% of Americans attend religious services regularly.

         2022  56% of Americans either do not believe in God or that religion is important.

And here we are. We wonder why young people have lost the meaning and value of life, as well as, hope. Hope in God's grace or a Higher power to get them through the stresses and difficulties in their young lives. To be a source of comfort even when family is not. To understand the importance of right and wrong. Why they need to respect themselves and others. Why they need to understand violence in real life is not a video game. People can and do get seriously injured, even die, when assaulted, stabbed or shot. They will not just jump back up like in a game or movie. Also, real time videos depicting violence are very painful to parents, families and friends. 

I believe, we as a society, have to do more to spread the good Word in an effort to turn things around. Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship have to do more to make attendance at services desirable, meaningful and valuable. Plus, assure the safety of children attending services or religious schools. Churches must speak publicly about past scandals and the means taken to correct them. The increased violence, social media and harmful ideologies existing now are not working for kids, their parents, their families, houses of worship and public safety. The time is here to protect kids, parents and families from physical, emotional and spiritual harm.

                                                           "Give yourself to the Lord;                                                                                                                                 Trust in Him and he will help you."                                                                                                                                    Psalm 37: 5

May you all be safe, well and comforted in the Lord God.

Love, Rosemarie

If anyone has feelings of wanting to die or harm yourself, call 988 or 911 immediately for help.


Monday, November 14, 2022

WEARINESS

Weariness comes with any loss, especially the loss of a child. Or even re-visiting that loss in times of trouble. Somehow weariness descends as a dark cloud that surrounds us. To those of us who have experienced weariness, we know that even the smallest task seems like trying to climb a mountain. Doing anything requires great effort from energy that is just not there. We wonder, what is wrong with me? When will this end? What should I do? I have found there are some simple steps to get started combatting our weariness.  

I find it has helped me not to be alone so I don't spend the whole day in bed. It helps to set a couple of minimal tasks each day. Open some mail. Make a couple of phone calls that need to be made. Read a few pages from a book. Respond to a couple of emails. Watch a favorite podcast. Check out a video. Do some deep breathing exercises. Read the Bible, some of your favorite verses. Listen to relaxing music or spiritual music.

It does not help to sit in one spot all day. Or to hide in the closet. A favorite of mine. Or to not take any phone calls. Another favorite. Or not eat. Eat something even if it is junk. It still counts as an activity. Or prepare simple meals---a protein and simple salad. Or get take-out delivered. Do a few items of laundry if a whole load seems like too much.  Write down how you are feeling each day. Spelling and grammar do not count. Writing also helps to see progress made. List what you do each day. Do a paint by number. Get a plant. Ask for help from someone who has been there for you in the past. Who is reliable. Speak to a professional grief counselor. Go to a support group. Take a short walk outside. Go to a nearby park to sit and watch nature. Play with your pets. Consider getting a dog, a cat, a bird or a couple of goldfish. See your doctor to make sure there is no physical problem.

And pray your energy will return. All things pass. But it requires a little effort to make that happen. Very minimal effort to get the ball rolling. Do just one thing and the next day, two things and so on. Something just to get started. Ask a friend to go with you to get you hair cut or styled and colored. Get your nails done. Ask a neighbor or friend in for coffee or tea. Just put out some cookies. Chances are they will bring something. Going out or having someone in will motivate you to shower and dress. Comb your hair. Shave your face or trim that beard. Even get rid of the dishes piling up in the sink. Try to make the bed each day so you feel more like getting dressed. And less like going back to bed.

We can get through this weariness. We can be part of the world again. We can have a life again. Not the same life, but still a satisfying life. I know that might not be want we want right now. We want our child back, but that is not going to happen. Even so, I know it is possible to make it back. Bit by bit. Remember, there are others who need us. We can pray to our deceased children to help us find peace, strength and courage to get through what has happened. Try inching forward to find a way to journey this road through grief. It is not a straight road. There are detours, but it is not insurmountable. Even if it looks that way today. Live in the moment. One the day at a time. Thinking too far ahead with a negative mind frame does not help.

Most important----We must remember who and what remains in our lives. I am going through a rough patch now, but everyday I thank God several times a day for the blessing my new husband has been to me. I stay in touch daily with my sister who is not in the United States. And with her son, my nephew, who was close to Chris, and lives in another state.

I thank God for my home and my warm bed. I thank God for the people who have helped me in the past and who are reaching out to me now. God bless them. I thank God I am able to write to all of you to help you through the terrible loss of your child. I have made it out and seen the other side. I have taken a detour down a dark tributary right now. I have no doubt I will make it out again. We do not know what good can come to us in the future. I never expected I would re-marry to such a good man.

Life has it downs, but also it ups if we are patient. Getting through grief is a choice in which we need to be an active participant. It is not easy. Just start slow. We pray to God to care for our children in heaven and to help us now.

                                         "The Lord is near to all those who are discouraged,                                                                                          He saves those who have lost all hope."  

                                                                   Psalm 34: 18

Be assured of my prayers for all of you.                                                                                                            Love, Rosemarie

If anyone has thoughts of harming themselves or ending their lives, please call 988 or 911 to get help.


Friday, November 4, 2022

SUICIDE WATCH


The suicide watch is my own, unfortunately. I don't want to harm myself. My spirit to go on has left me. I am asking God to take me home. It is just so hard and painful to go on. I feel I have suffered enough. Seeing my dear stepson, Dale, become paralyzed has just been too much. As I said earlier, it brought me back to a very dark place I had not realized I would have to grapple with again. It is true the only constant in life is change.

I feel very guilty for my wish to leave my earthly life when millions of both adults and children are ill, injured, abused and starving, yet, fighting to go on. Fighting my own cancer while my husband was so ill, my son being tragically killed and then my husband dying six weeks later all within 21 months time, I am told left me with PTSD--post-traumatic stress syndrome. The inner affliction of depression has always been a part of my life since my early twenties. The two have joined forces and reared a combined ugly head in my mind and heart.

The only constant throughout my husband's long and diminishing illness and those terrible 21 months was my dear little dog, Amber. She was always an undemanding comfort to me. A few nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. I started to sob because I needed Amber there to comfort me. I wanted, desperately, to see her, touch her, pet her, smell her, hear her breathe and sigh. Watch her listen as I talked to her and each time wag her tail when I would stop talking. Then we would repeat the pattern. I miss her funny antics. I wanted to be with her again. I put her photo in bed with me. I know she is in heaven with Chris and Fred. I ask them all the time to take good care of her. And Chris not to tease her. They had a sibling rivalry thing.

I miss Amber so. I know if she was here, I would feel better. But she is not and here I have been miserable for several days. Pope St. John Paul II said he believed dogs have souls. I believe they do. Some people believe in channeling. That the spirit of a dog, even a child, can come back in another dog and another child. I am not sure of that. God creates each soul for a His divine purpose. I don't think He recycles them. Another child or dog can come into our lives who very much reminds us of a late child or dog. I believe that is by God's design because He knows what we need. He created human procreation and He created dogs because He cares for us. 

I wish I could get another dog who would be a little like Amber. But I live in a third floor condo, where only very small dogs are allowed. I am not really attracted to tiny dogs with very big personalities and yappy barking. I have neighbors on either side and downstairs. New hubby is not really a pet person. He would have to walk Fido due to my back problems. I walk with a cane, feel unsteady and can't really exercise or walk a dog outside. So I am kind of between a rock and a hard place. I would need a small older dog. Maybe if I can find one, hubby will give in. It makes me feel better thinking about getting a dog.

Once again I will have to make the difficult choice to go on or let this unanticipated terrible event destroy me. I know, somehow with faith and courage, I walk down this difficult, dark tributary and emerge on a brighter side of my journey. Even though it doesn't feel that way now. I have professionals I can turn to for help. Please, God, help me to feel better soon. Thank you. 

                            "Even though I walk through the darkest valley....you are still with me... "                                                                                                                                        Psalm 23:  4

                                    "...I will hold tightly to your hand, for you will keep me safe                                                                                                while I struggle to find joy again."                                                                                           From "Prayers in Times of Suffering" by Sister Joyce Rupp, OSMS


If you have feelings of wanting to harm yourself, end your life or that others would be better off without you, please call 911 or 988 immediately 24/7. 

Please pray for me.                                                                                                                                      Love, Rosemarie










 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

BEING IN A VERY BAD PLACE

I woke up this morning in a very bad place. I am spent emotionally. I have had two  awful dreams. In one, I was driving. I kept meeting obstacles in the road and had to turn around. I also kept getting lost. Then in another I was angrily ripping apart large pieces of fabric. I was trying to get through something or to change something. I couldn't see clearly what it was. I was angry to be where I was.

I am still angry. My husband and I were so happy. I feel like this goodness and contentment has been ripped away from us. Darkness surrounds me now. My stepson, Dale recently became paralyzed following neck surgery. It is another blow to get through. I am spent trying to help him. I cannot go down this road again, God. This is one too many burdens. Dale and his family face a very uncertain future. I do not know if I have the strength to go through this drastic change. To climb up one more steep hill filled with boulders. I do not want Dale and his family to be abandoned in their struggles. But that is what happens with chronic injury and disability. It is a lonely and isolated road I walked with my late husband.

Can  I climb one more mountain to be there for Dale and his family? Not today. I feel God has finally asked too much of me. Must I now relive some of the emotional horrors and physical obstacles of my son's own death? My late husband's long illness and death six weeks after Chris' death. I keep telling God, I cannot do this again. 

I decided it is a day to go into a dark place for a little while and then hopefully come out the in a better state of mind. This may not seem right to anyone reading this. However, I learned early on, it is better to acknowledge the rain, the clouds, the darkness and the thunder of profound grief. Then, in several hours or a day later, say, "This is it. I am coming out." When I emerge from my exile, I am able to see a day filled with light, beauty and sunshine or a sky filled with sparkling stars. I realize the power of nature and God have not abandoned me. That my life will go on in faith. 

I pray I will feel renewed. I pray my husband and I can get through this enormous challenge with our relationship intact. I need to get over this anger. I had not expected to be brought back to such a painful place with yet another child. I believe what happened is the fault of the neurosurgeon and hospital. I am powerless to change what happened and what will be going forward. All too familiar circumstances and painful emotions to grapple with again and to try to accept.

Two days ago, I had a terrible anxiety attack after my husband and I had a difficult phone conversation with Dale. I had to take some prescribed medication to relieve it. Nothing to this extent has ever happened to me. I thought maybe I was having a heart attack or stroke. The medication helped. My symptoms stopped. I think I was so fearful of now losing the peace and happiness that had eluded me for many years. Help me God to remember and to hold onto your generous blessings of my new husband and my new family.

Yet, I wonder must life be so hard, God? Have I not suffered enough? A little justice for my son, Chris. A little knowledge to stop the ravages of diabetes which killed my husband? A little mercy for my stepson, Dale, that he will walk again. That would be nice and very much appreciated. We are pouring our efforts and faith into the well. We need to see from You, the graces bestowed for our efforts, prayer and faith. Perhaps, tomorrow, I will be filled the knowledge and acceptance that Dale, a new Dale, is with us in sorrow, but in joy, in faith and in hope.

Help us all get through our earthly lives, God. We are all in Your hands.

                                     "I was afraid and thought he had driven me out of His Presence,
                                      But He heard my cry, when I called to Him for help."
                                                                                                                     Psalm 31:  22


Pray for me, my husband and Dale, please. You, dear readers, are always in my prayers and loving thoughts. 

Rosemarie

For anyone feeling or thinking of harming yourself, giving up or killing yourself call 988 for help 24/7.


Thursday, October 27, 2022

LOSING A CHILD IN WAR

I chose to write about this topic because lately I have noticed some readers to my blog are from the Ukraine and from Russia. While I do not know anyone's identity, the blog statistics allow me to see what countries readers represent. Due to loss of lives in both countries, loss of lives to the United States and allies from war in the Middle East, I feel this topic is relevant. My blog can be translated into many languages. Just click on the very bottom of the right hand column where it says: May Your Laughter Live: Translate. Then click on "select a language" and choose.

No doubt, war is hell come to earth. Losing your child in battle, in friendly fire or as a civilian casualty brings devastation to you as parents and your family units. Comprehending the evil of leaders, the lust for power and domination, the greed for territory and resources and the denial of freedoms boggles our minds. Man's inhumanity to man. God and history will stand in final judgment to these horrific events.

Losing a child in the many circumstances of war and military service leaves parents with many doubts and questions. Answers which are almost impossible to know without the availability if an eye witness. Questions which haunt are: How did my child die? Who killed him/her? Did he or she suffer? Was he/she alone?  Did anyone try to help/him her? Did he/she go to the hospital? What happened at the hospital? Why did no one call us? Where is he/she buried. Will we ever get him/her back to us?

Questions which go round and round in the heads of parents whose children are victims of war. Many questions with few, if any, answers. This is the cruelty and irony of war. Plus, anger, uncertainty, the desire for revenge raise their heads in parents' minds in the aftermath of your children's terrible deaths. How could they not?

Dear Parents, I have not walked the same path as you. My son was not killed in war. But, I do know what it is not to get justice for your child. I know what is is to be lied to by police and politicians. I know he never got the proper emergency care. His care was delayed. I know what it is not to be able to talk to the doctors at the hospital. They never contacted me. I know what it is for the police to come to you in the middle of the night with this awful news. I know what it is like to try to get answers from the police and other officials. I tried every legal resource, but got no answers and no satisfaction.

My son was at least returned to me. I was able to bury him. I am able to visit him at the cemetery.  I know many of you will be denied these small comforts. Like many of your children, my son died far too young----five days past his 23rd birthday. Much too young as your children were as well.

How to go on? In your own way honor your son or daughter's death and life, either privately or publicly, as circumstances allow. If you cannot honor your child in the way you wish, at a later date, you may be able to have a larger memorial service. If you are able, do whatever you can to bring about peace and reason. Protest if you feel the need and you can do so safely. Have compassion for others and compassion will come back to you. Meet and talk with other parents who have lost their children in this war. You can share your common, profound grief and loss. Support one another for all you have been through. No one can make the journey through grief alone.

Tell God the anger and hatred you feel. God sees all and hears all. He knows the evil which has dealt you this terrible loss. God is a just God. Pray for an end to this madness. For the suffering of war to end. Tell yourself, it will get better even if you don't believe it now. Be determined you will survive. Others need you now and in the future. Do not let evil and your awful loss and grief destroy you. Pray for courage and strength. Pray for protection from the evil that surrounds you.

May God be with you. He has not forgotten you. Nor, will I.

Love and prayer, Rosemarie

                                     "Leave your troubles with the Lord, and he will defend you."                                                                                                                                            Psalm 55: 22



Thursday, October 20, 2022

DEATH OF A LIFE IN A LIVING PERSON

Today I feel as if someone has stuck a pin in me and drained all of the energy out of me. I have been transported back to many, many very difficult, sad and challenging years. I shall explain this and what may be a confusing title.

One of my stepsons, Dale, had serious neurosurgery to fuse three vertebrae in his neck thirteen days ago. Quite unexpectedly, when he awoke from surgery, he was confused and unable to move his arms and legs. He has regained the use of his arms and hands and his mental clarity, but not his legs. And he remains in pain in his neck and legs even though he cannot move his legs. He is quite overwhelmed, traumatized and depressed. As are we all as his family. This was not the outcome that was expected from this surgery.

As it stands now, the happy, independent, well functioning, and mobile Dale we knew is now gone. We have no idea what the future may hold for him, his wife and young son. This situation has been a terrible shock with many unanswered questions and no explanation for what has happened.

This has dragged me back to the time when I lost my own son Chris. Then followed by his father, Fred's, death six weeks later. I barely had the energy to get out of bed. I woke up this morning feeling okay. The phone rang almost immediately. I spoke with the admissions coordinator from the acute rehab center to which Dale will soon be transferred. As soon as I got off the phone, I felt this tremendous loss of energy and sadness. I feel on the verge of crying, but the tears have not yet come. 

I updated my husband, Dale's father. Then called Dale to update and reassure him so he has an idea of what to expect. I have become the de facto point person with the healthcare personnel. I am the only nurse in the family and have had much experience in neurology and rehabilitation care for spinal injuries. 

So once more, I am dragged back to the difficult situation of caring for my husband, Fred's, ten year illness. I am sure I don't need to tell you many of you the myriad of difficulties I had dealing with hospitals, doctors, nurses, insurance, case managers and insurance medical directors. I even reached a point where I called Fred's good friend and best man, who was also a good friend to the CEO of our insurance company. His intervention did help with a few problems, but not all.

And here I go, again now, with Dale. Dealing with hospitals and healthcare personnel is no easier now. If anything, it is worse. Trying to be a go between with health care givers and facilities with Dale, his immediate family and extended family. I was not prepared for this. I have thought about having to one day possibly care for my husband as we aged. Yet here I am. Immersed in coordinating caring for a disabled stepson. And thinking what if...? Can I handle this again? Can my husband handle it? And I am totally worn out!

Though Dale is still with us, will he ever be the same Dale? Will he be able to adjust to a disability? How will this affect his wife and son? How will he mange at home? Will he be able to return to his present, small, two story home if he is in a wheelchair? I don't know the answer to these questions and neither does anyone else. 

My husband and I are not near Dale's home or near the hospital. I discussed with my husband the need to be there physically and emotionally for Dale. My husband also experienced, with his late wife, the same difficulties with her illnesses as I did with my late husband. It is difficult, even traumatic, for him to go into a hospital. Neither of us ever wanted to re-marry for fear of having to take care of a very ill spouse again. With the passage of time, this fear lessened. We found each other and love once more.

I also talked to my husband about the pain of losing a child. The many serious complications Dale could face as a result of his being unable to use his legs. I felt I had to tell my husband there were two dark roads he did not want to go down. The first road, "I should have done MORE for him." Second road, "I should have been THERE for him." I told him, these very dark roads are difficult to return from. I hope he understood because there is uncertainty about Dale's future. Many adjustments to be made. Many hurdles to overcome. And some serious pitfalls to be prevented.

As parents who have lost children we are bonded in many cases by the numerous health care difficulties and certainly the profound grief and trauma of losing a child. Navigating a road from this grief to try to come back to a somewhat productive life with family, friends and employment. It takes a lot of faith, courage and perseverance.

We have journeyed down the road of losing our children. A road which never completely ends and has dark tributaries along the way. And I journeyed down the road of losing a spouse. That was delayed because I could not process the loss of my late husband while processing the profound loss of my son. I have faced my own mortality both with complications from surgery and from having breast cancer. 

Now I am called to journey down the road with a dear stepson who has lost the only life he has known. Lost the way his family and friends have always known him. Lost his life without physically dying.

I am doing as much as I can. As always, I turn to prayer and my faith for Dale, his family, my husband and myself. God never deserts us. May He walk with me on another journey. Saint Padre Pio says, "Pray, hope and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer." 

I am hoping and praying for a miracle that Dale will walk again and I can remain strong by his side.

                      "Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." 

                                                                                                              Galatians 6: 2