Pandemics, Paranoia and Loss

I am having a hard time putting into words what I’ve been feeling the last few days. Anxious is probably a good place to start. Maybe followed by feelings of vulnerability and lack of control. I’ve been feeling exactly how I felt right after the accident and Benny died.

It’s hard to even write that because nothing concrete has even happened to trigger these feelings. It’s the not knowing what is next with Covid-19 that is eating away at me. I am struggling.

I’m feeling overwhelmed as both a small business owner and a mom. But I’m mostly feeling overwhelmed as someone that has witnessed tragedy close up. It causes me to pause and panic. I want to know all that I can so I can best prepare for whatever outcome we may face when this is all over. And call me crazy, call me paranoid, that’s fine. My reaction is my own and is a reflection on my life and my experiences.

So we may make choices that you don’t agree with concerning ourselves and our family. We may be a little more paranoid and a little more afraid than you.

I’ve held my son as he died. This is not something that I share lightly, but rather to explain that we will take every step that we can health wise and financially to keep ourselves from going through something like that again. I know that children seem pretty safe with this virus and Parker and I are also pretty low risk. But there are no guarantees in this life. And unfortunately, we know that all too well. I will do anything to keep my children safe from hurt.

I also would never want to pass this sickness onto someone that is immunocompromised or elderly. That alone is enough to keep me home and minimally at work. I don’t want to be the reason that someone else has to suffer.

I’m scared. Loss has scarred me in a way in which I will never heal from. It makes me anxious when others may be complacent. It makes me recognize each little thing that can wrong every day.

It has also taught me about love and hope. And I don’t take either of those lightly. I am humbled by the amount of both that are part of my every day life. And I desperately need to hold onto them in the coming days to see me through.

I have no idea where this ends or what will happen. Just know that if you have suffered loss and this Virus is leaving you on edge and feeling completely vulnerable, you are not alone. It’s ok to not be ok. We will get through this easier if we can acknowledge this and realize that we are all in this together. ❤️

Empaths

Do you know what’s truly beautiful? When someone can look at you and know your pain without ever having gone through it themselves. And they get it, they truly get it. I’ve never felt more seen in my life. My feelings have never been more validated.

I’m still floored, all these 6 years later by the people that chose to be a part of our grief. Some were in our lives before, others showed up after. These after people have chosen to put the waders on and trudge through this shit show of emotion with us. And they are truly incredible.

True empathy is a rare thing and we have been so lucky to see so much of it and have many empaths in our lives. My children get to see community and love in it’s truest form. And I am so thankful for that.

I am humbled by our village and those that chose to show up. I feel so lucky to have these amazing people in our lives. And to the one that saw through my pain, I am overwhelmed by your capacity to understand it. Your heart amazes me.

#thisischildloss

Finding A Light

I have been struggling. The winter is so damn hard for me sometimes. The monotonous days stuck indoors are really hard. As much as I love my children and I love working with my husband, it can all just seem repetitious.

I am desperate to feel the sun on my face and spend hours outside. I want to feel grass beneath my toes and watch green leaves sway in a lazy Summer breeze.

At the same time, I love snow, I love skiing, I love sledding. But I don’t love the darkness and the cold. And it gets to me. I can feel myself sliding, moving backwards. I’m more tired, I’m more irritable. I’m way less motivated to do anything. And once I get into this slump, it’s very hard to ‘unslump’ myself.

There’s all this talk about, ‘being your own light,’ which is great and all, but what if you can’t be? What if what you’re going through is really hitting you hard and you can’t find a way back out? There’s a lot of pressure to fix yourself, by yourself.

This last month has felt this way to me. Just a lot of stuff weighing heavily and I know that the endless winter weather doesn’t help.

I hate the feeling of sinking. I know when it’s happening and sometimes I welcome it for the break that it is. Sometimes I just need to zone out (as best as you can with 3 kids) so I can try and process whatever this new grief slap is so that I can get through it. Sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I just can’t find my light.

This time I recognized it for what it is. I am feeling stuck. I am feeling sad. I can’t turn my own light on right now. And that’s ok. I didn’t try to fight with myself or self deprecate. I knew I needed something.

Sometimes you need to borrow a little light from someone else. And I’m ok with that. I can’t be everything to everyone without needing a little help myself every once in awhile.

I’m ok with borrowing some light while I take the time to make mine bright again. The one thing grief isn’t is consistent. You can be fine and then all of a sudden something comes along to knock the wind out of your sails. For me it’s been several something’s.

So I’m ‘unslumping’ with a puppy, something I swore up and down that I would never, ever do. We’ve always rescued the big dogs that no one else wants. But sometimes you have to go outside of what you would normally do. If death has taught me anything, it’s certainly to take chances or do something I wouldn’t normally do.

Meet Dutch

Sometimes ‘unslumping’ means getting out of your normal routine. Sometimes it means go for a walk, get outside. Or maybe treat yourself to an ice cream or a haircut. There’s nothing better than when I feel good on the outside how it helps me feel a little bit better or the inside. Or, go get a puppy. You only have one life, do what you want to make it a little bit better.

#thisischildloss

Class of 2033

I was invited to a Facebook group tonight for when my son enters Kindergarten this Fall. My head nearly exploded when I read that he would be graduating high school in 2033. As in, 13 years from now. As in, I will be 53 years old. Even better, I now know that I will be 55 when my youngest graduates.

And to some, that probably isn’t even that old. It isn’t in the grand scheme of things, it’s just not what I planned for me. It’s just that little reminder how off kilter things went.

We had Darcy when we were 28 and Benny at 32. I wanted to be a younger mom. Not because it was this great life plan, but because my mom had me when she was 33. And she died when she was 49. I wanted my kids when I was younger because I wanted them to have as much time as possible with us. I was so constantly concerned about something happening to one of us.

How disgustingly ironic my life became those 7 years ago. I was so worried about something happening to us because I never thought that anything could ever happen to one of my children. None of us do until it happens.

So here I am again, in a bitter twist of fate freaking out at how old we will be come graduation time in 13 years. So much can happen between now and then. So much can change. And it freaks me out. My mother wasn’t at my graduation. Or my wedding. She wasn’t there when her grandbabies were born.

I know that I’m very lucky to have my rainbows. I just need a moment to catch my breath and scream at the Universe. This anger has caught me by surprise because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way over everything. The need for control is rearing it’s ugly head again and I just need to shake my fists a bit to release this energy building up inside.

#thisischildloss

Denying Myself

How many of us do this daily? We walk around with a smile on our faces while in reality all that we really want to do is cry. Because we are dying on the inside missing the hell out of our loved ones.

Look, people mean well. They want you to feel better, they want you to move on. Even those closest to you. They want you to be happy. How much of our happiness is derived from someone else’s needs?

I have children, so my grief sits somewhere in a back corner. When my son died my daughter didn’t want us to sit around crying. We did, everyone did for the first few weeks and then slowly it became less and less. I still cry, in the shower, in the car, putting the toddler to bed, in the pantry. My lovely private places.

Why the hell can’t I show this to my kiddos? I have no problem showing them anger, happiness, why not show them sadness? Why not show them that grief can be handled healthily? Why do we hide our sadness?

I’m legit asking. I wish I could explain why vulnerability is bad. I wish I could understand when I was taught this concept. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism I’ve picked up. Who knows?

One of the only places that I can be my true grieving self in at my grief groups. I can be real with my anger and sadness over my son’s death. And it’s ok. It’s my ‘Benny time.’ And I look forward to it all month because it’s like offloading so much that has been stuffed down deep inside.

And here obviously. Here I am still in my protective bubble. And I know that most anyone reading this gets it. And even if they don’t, they can empathize. Because wearing this mask is exhausting sometimes.

#thisischildloss

Raising Grieving Children

I was home with my little rainbows the other day when my four year old son came over to me with tears in his eyes. I was potty training with the 2 year old, which consists of whisking her through the house before she can pee on my carpet whilst she screams at me that she has to ‘go right now!’. So I’m in the middle of wiping butts and washing hands when her brother approaches me with big crocodile tears running down his cheeks.

‘What’s wrong buddy?’ I’m asking not really paying attention as I’m trying to clean up the mess his little sister made. ‘I really miss Benny. I’m sad that he died.’ he replies standing there clutching his big brothers picture in his hand.

It was as if someone punched me in the gut, or maybe more accurately, the heart. This beautiful child of mine never even met his older brother. He was born nearly 2 years after he died. It completely throws me when this little 4 year old has these very intense moments of loss.

Later in the day my son was talking about music and how sad music makes you feel your feelings, especially when someone dies. Then you cry. This little guy may be more emotionally mature than I am.

And what am I supposed to do with this? Never in a million years did I expect my rainbows to feel the loss of their brother they never knew this deeply. The whole thing is baffling and overwhelming. My older daughter who knew her brother has been in therapy for years and we’ve all been getting the help that we need. I guess I figured that Benny would be an abstract idea to these ‘after’ children.

Maybe it’s because we have pictures of Benny up all over the house. We talk about him and share stories. We celebrate his birthday and visit him in the cemetery. My children have been raised surrounded by tragedy and death and the realization that young people die too. It’s awful to even pen these words.

I wish I knew how to best handle these moments when they happen, or at least be able to be better prepared for them. But like most instances in parenting, it’s learning as you go.

So I got down on his level and hugged him tight. I told him that I was sorry that he missed his brother and it’s ok to be sad. I cried because it made me miss his brother too. It made me miss everything my boys never got to do together.

As I collected myself the kids became busy with Batman and my son had moved on. He accepted the fact that Benny was gone and he was ok with it, for now. I wish that I could be as resilient in grief as children are.

#thisischildloss