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You Didn’t Deserve to Die

Man, this one hit home. Be it my mom or my son, I could have written this. Besides believing in the cliches, because that will never happen.

You Didn’t Deserve to Die

Yo Ho, Sending Christmas Cards!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For most. Well, maybe not really most. For some? If there’s one thing that grief has taught me, it’s that no one is immune. Chances are, everyone is missing someone this season. And that makes it hard.

It’s hard to get into the spirit with a hole in your heart. It’s hard to feel jolly if you’re feeling lonely and sad. You just don’t want to do all of the holiday things that you used to.

Six years later and I refuse to send Christmas cards. I cannot bring myself to send out a family picture without Benny, or sign a card without his name. Now I know there are ways around this. I could sign the card with ‘ The Roaf Family,’ or I can have us hold up a picture of Benny in our picture. Here’s the thing though, I don’t want to.

Maybe it’s my way of saying ‘it’s still not ok.’ Because all these years later, it really, truly isn’t. My husband has tried to push me each year to send out cards, even generic ones and I honestly just don’t want to. It was something that I enjoyed when my family was whole. My family will never be whole again.

So if you don’t receive a Christmas card from us, please don’t take it personally. It’s just one of those things now that I cannot deal with. If you’re reading this, you’re on the list in my head of people that we are thankful to have in our lives. And we love you lots. And we hope that you have an amazing holiday season. ♥️

My Grief Process – May Madness

I remember wondering after Benny passed how I would navigate through my grief. How would I handle all of the holidays without him? Could I survive his birthday?

Benny was born in May, a big month for birthdays in mine and my husband’s families. We start with Mother’s Day, which I had just finally stopped grieving once Darcy was born, throw a whole bunch of birthdays in there, including my father’s and Benny’s, and wrap it all up with the day my mom died. All of this happens within a span of 13 days or so. It. Is. A. Lot.

Every year around Benny’s birthday in May, we do a gathering at the cemetery and then something small for the kids back at the house. We sing happy birthday and share memories. I want to celebrate the fact that my son lived, not focus on his death. I have one child who barely remembers him and two children that have never met him. It’s complex and confusing and we muddle through this new world as best as we possibly can.

Every May I am sent into a tail spin. I will add as many projects to my ‘to do list’ as possible. I spend hours on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist looking for bargains that I can transform into something.

I need to keep my hands busy. I need to keep my mind clear. I just need to get through the next 13 or so days. I am in survival mode.

It’s as if I begin to notice everything around me that needs to be fixed. Oh, the cats destroyed the couch?

I got this! I just noticed that the kitchen looked very blah, looks too much like every other new house. Time to add a backsplash!

I’m desperately trying to fix my surroundings in an attempt to fix myself. It’s not possible. I cannot fix this.

No matter how much planning I do, no matter how much I think I have done, I will always add something to Benny’s celebration of life. In part it has become my way of still planning a party for my son, even though he is not here.

I try to find the perfect book to be read at the cemetery. I look for a creative craft for the kids to do in Benny’s memory. I am constantly looking for new ways to celebrate his life. Which is hard because it was so short.

Is all of this crazy? Sure. Do I need to put more pressure on myself to what is already a month heaped with emotional grief? Nope. But here’s the thing. This stuff, this trying to fix things, this need to plan a celebration of my son’s life, it helps. It helps me feel the tiniest bit like I can have control over something, anything in my chaotic life. I like keeping my hands busy and my mind focused. It’s like meditation to me. It gives me a chance to be truly present in the moment.

This is my process. This is how I have learned to make it through an emotionally charged month of ups and downs. My husband and kids have learned to take it all in stride and just accept that this is what I do. This is what I need. And for now it works. Maybe some day it won’t and that’s ok too.

There is no guidebook friends. There is nothing to make it all better. But if you can find something constructive to make it tolerable, you do you. Do what feels right.