My Christmas Grief

Thanksgiving is over and now we head into the holidays of family and love. Christmas has been a really hard time for me ever since my mom died. I’ve worked extra hard to make it special for my kiddos. It’s also some place productive that I can put all of this stuck, grief energy.

A few years back another lost mom had posted the Christmas tree she did in memory of her son. Another friend had recommended using all of the metals from the 5K that we do in Benny’s memory as ornaments. That began the ‘Benny Tree.’ I love that he has a space in our home and our hearts for the holiday. My kids also enjoy decorating it and looking at all the pictures and medals.

The year that Benny died we started writing him notes in his stocking. They stay in there all year long and get packed away with the Christmas decorations. Someday his stocking will be full again but at least in the meantime it’s still funny on the fireplace with the rest of the family’s.

Last year I started sponsoring a child for Christmas that is the age Benny would be. It’s sad and hopeful all rolled into one. I love that I get to help someone out and I still get to shop for a boy Benny’s age. I wonder what he would be into and what would be on his Christmas list. And it’s heartbreaking.

It’s taken me 8 years to come up with what makes our holiday feel ‘good’ again. It’s organic and it changes as we change. Right now it just allows me the space to still parent Benny, even though he’s on the other side. If it ever gets to be too much or doesn’t feel right, then we won’t do it. But for now, I look forward to my grief traditions.

Benny’s Bunch

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What started out last year as a ‘last minute 5k’ for the Greg Hill Foundation has grown into something else.  To quote my friend Erin, “Amazing how less than two years old and he has the power to gather the masses. An incredible day to honor and cherish Benny.”

This year we had over 50 people walking/running last Saturday, it was incredible!  We were easily the largest team to participate in the event.  Watching the sea of Benny shirts on the route was inspiring.  To know that this many people turned out to support our little guy and our family.  We had folks traveling from CT and NH just to walk with us.  There was so much love in that crowd.

Santa was there as well as cookies, candy and carolers to keep us moving.  This year it was a balmy 35 out, so we didn’t freeze!  Afterwards we went over to 29 Sudbury to carb up great food and free beer while we listened to the live entertainment and watched the kiddos run around.

People sent in donations for us to drop off as well and we were able to turn over an additional $120 to the foundation.  It was an incredible day and an incredible feeling to be surrounded by that much love.  Thank you once again Benny’s Bunchers!!  Thank you GHF for all that do to support local families and bring us some hope during our darkest hours!!

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Day 30 – Intention

After the accident happened, I knew that I needed to do something, anything, in Benny’s name. While I’m still trying to vet exactly what that is, I intend to give of myself in honor of Benny’s life. He lived and even though it was short, he was here and he was mine. My intention is to try to better other grieving parents/childrens lives, be it though a non-profit or just simply reaching out. No one should have to bury a child alone.

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting up ‘Benny’s Bunnch’ as a parent/child grief resource. I know that there are groups out there such as Compassionate Friends, but I’m looking at something more than a grief group. I think back to the hospital sending us home with tons of paperwork with terrifying statistics. There was no follow up whatsoever and no guidance. We are just lucky that we have social workers in our family that were able to push us in the right direction. We got help almost immediately. I have met several other people on this journey that haven’t had this type of support and perhaps would have benefited from it. I haven’t yet figured out what form this should take or a time frame. I just know that I want to help others. This process is much easier when you don’t feel alone. I’ve been surrounded by other moms that have helped to guide me. It’s time to return the favor.
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