Monday, December 30, 2013

Visiting the Cemetery

    The holidays always bring the question of visiting the cemetery with something special when you may be missing your child the most.   The cemetery has never been easy for me, but the last few years I have come to peace with my visits.  Initially I would be very depressed for days after going. Yet I wanted to go and just prepared myself for feeling bad. Then gradually, I saw it as a time for peace and a quiet place to talk to Chris and my husband, Fred, too.

     If you are wrestling with the decision of whether or when to go or are dreading going, perhaps I can help you with my own experience.
      1)  It may be easier to go with another friend or relative.  I usually go alone, but this year, I may ask a good friend to go with me.  I am feeling the need for support this year.  I have been under more stress than usual and not feeling well.  Sit down and think about your needs and who and what would support you the most.

       2)  After going to the cemetery, decide if you want some quiet time, need to go to church or perhaps you would rather be distracted by being with other people.  The choice is yours.  Do not feel or pressured to do something.  If you must attend a social engagement, then schedule the cemetery for a time in which you will not be obligated to do something afterwards if you want quiet.
       3)  It is okay not to go to the cemetery if you are dreading going or become ill or very distraught by visiting your child's gravesite.  You can sit in quiet and visit with your child anywhere.  It is NOT necessary to go to the gravesite.  You can buy a special plant, plant a special live commemorative tree, bake a special dessert, have a special toast or a commemorative meal at home or in a restaurant.

     Finally, let me leave you with the words of the poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye:

                    Do not stand by my grave and weep
                    I am not there, I do not sleep
                    I am a thousand winds that blow
                    I am the diamond's gift of snow
                    I am the sunlight on ripened grain
                    I am autumn's gentle rain
                    When you awaken in the morning's hush
                    I am the swift uplifting rush
                    Of quiet birds in circled flight
                    I am the soft stars that shine at night
                    Do not stand at my grave and cry

                          I am not there
                          I did not die.

     Our children's spirits go on and we with them.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Serenity and Wisdom

     My energy and thinking has been taken up by having to deal with illness in a family member.  I realized, I am really powerless to affect any significant change here.  I had to come to this conclusion as I am seeing my own health adversely affected.  Time for the Serenity Prayer:

               God grant me the power to
                    Accept the things I cannot change,
                    The courage to change the things I can,
                    And the wisdom to know the difference.

     We are often powerless to change events or other people.  The only way to shape events is to control or change yourself.  This would seem to be the beginning of insight and wisdom.

      Have a blessed and peaceful Christmas and holiday.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Handling the Holidays

     December is upon us.  You and I are having to deal with missing our children terribly during the Christmas holiday season.  This is in addition to normal the stress to get things done.  First, depending upon where you are in this grieving process, do not engage in any social activities you do not feel up to.  A simple statement that you are celebrating quietly or privately this year is sufficient.  Be gracious, but firm.  Do not engage in a discussion or explanation.  Excuse yourself from the conversation if you have to.

     If you have other children, of course you have to make a holiday for them as much as your heart may not be in it.  Please enlist the help of family and friends for decorating, shopping, gift wrapping and meal preparation.  People say they want to help.  Now is the chance to take them up on it.  Grief is a journey you cannot make alone.  You have to ask for help no matter how independent and together you have been in the past.

     I know at times, you may feel like screaming at all the merriment and activity around you, "Stop!  What are you doing?  Don't you know I lost a child."  Sometimes or maybe all the time, you and I feel we are no longer part of the real world where other people have not lost children.  It is as if you and I reside in a twilight zone and wait for things to get better. You and I are aware we have been cruelly robbed of part of our beings and futures while the rest of the world celebrates as if nothing is wrong.

     This detachment was brought home to me when a family member recently described her being in the hospital as "hell."  I wanted to shake her and say, "It is the holidays and I buried a child.  That is hell."  Deep breath.  Would that do any good for her or me?  Probably not.

     What I did do was go for a walk and a coffee and and to do a couple of simple errands to clear my head.  I was able to conclude:  You cannot make someone who does not understand your situation, acknowledge and understand it.  Second pointer is you either have to avoid certain people or take them in limited doses with other people as buffers.  Again, you may have to take someone close to you aside and ask for help in dealing with certain individuals.

     Focus on arranging some quiet periods for yourself or for you and your spouse or significant other.    Try to think of your child being alive in eternity.  Recall good memories and talk to your child.  If your partner does not want to do this, do not force the issue or argue.  Ask for some quiet time to pursue this yourself.   There is physical death and lack of an earthly presence, but I believe there is eternal life where our children are well, happy, safe and at peace from the stresses of the natural world.

     One day I will be re-united with my child and I believe so will you with your child.  It is just not time yet.  You have a longer journey here on earth.  Hold on with faith, hope and courage.  Deep breathe, meditate, walk, exercise, write, draw, paint, listen to music.  Buy your child a special present---  a little something for his or her room to mark the holiday and include your child.  Have a toast to his or her memory.

     Yes, this time of year can make day to day living very difficult especially if you are still struggling to find your footing.  Don't neglect your physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  By all means seek help and support.  Set limits for yourself and boundaries for others.  When faced with some hard task, I repeat over and over to myself, "I can do this."  And I rely on prayer.  Try to attend religious services. If you cannot, then watch some on television.  Try to remember the reason for the season.  The Christ child was born to bring hope, re-generation and spiritual growth to the world.

    I wish you peace and the best Christmas possible and good things and hope in the New Year.  God is holding your child in His hands until you meet again.

 Love to you and your families,