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

This Will All Make Sense When I am Older

We have little ones, so naturally we have seen Frozen II. I think I am more excited than my children are for when this movie is released on DVD. Disney has wrapped so much feeling and emotion into an hour and 43 minute movie. Now that I have memorized all of the songs from Frozen II (we play them on repeat constantly), I am desperate to watch it again. The lyrics are so unbelievably poignant and speak to me on many different levels.

If you haven’t seen the Frozen movies, the premise of this particular song is when the snow man, Olaf, is trying desperately to make sense of something that makes no sense. He was created by magic in the first movie, so he is younger and is seeking knowledge. He also tends to be very dim witted (yet lovable) and seems to think that age equals understanding.

Last Friday I turned 40. And even though I had been listening to this song over and over on repeat for the last month, I didn’t realize the message in the lyrics. And how absolutely absurd and hilarious they actually are. I can tell you that no matter what age you are, everything will absolutely make no sense.

The more that I have tried to rationalize the awful things that have happened in my life, the more I have realized that that is not possible. With age, the only thing that seems to make sense is that nothing does. I have changed my thinking from an ‘Everything happens for a Reason’ type of person to a ‘Shit happens’ type of person. Because sometimes things that happen that have no meaning or reason.

When we try to justify something tragic, we do harm to those involved by disregarding the severity of the situation and their feelings towards it. The only one that we make feel better is ourselves because we are creating distance between ourselves and their tragedy. I have been guilty of doing this and I’m sure it’s just a survival instinct, along the lines of ‘that couldn’t happen to me.’ I am now of the mindset of ‘know better, do better.’

I have learned that death, love, loss, tragedy and human emotion don’t make much sense. And I’m making my peace with that. It’s a process to retrain your thinking, but a sudden tragedy will do that to you. Thank you Disney for recognizing how silly of a concept trying to make sense of the insensible is.

#thisischildloss

 

 

Grief & Social Media

I lost my mother at the age of 16, back in 1996, during the birth of the internet. She died before you could share her obituary on Facebook and receive condolences from across the world. There was no GoFundMe started to help our family cover her medical costs associated with breast cancer. There weren’t any support groups for me to join online where I could meet other motherless daughters. It just was.

Fast forward to 2013. I was removing my 17 month old son from his car seat, when I reached in to turn off my car. We were both hit. I survived, he did not. This story was covered in the news, incorrectly over and over again, ad nauseum. But this wasn’t 1996. The news wasn’t only on television.

When we got home after saying good bye to our son for the last time, there were reporters everywhere. They followed us to a neighbor’s driveway as we tried to see our daughter. We had to sneak into our house through our neighbors yard, into our back door to avoid them. One of the first things we did was take down our Facebook pages. We did not want the press to have access to our family photos. We did not want anyone to find out on our social media accounts about the accident. It didn’t matter. It happened anyway.

I just recently signed back onto my own Facebook account after almost 6 long years. I couldn’t shake the feeling that people had access to our photos and could take whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. I honestly felt like I had to hide, I’m not sure from whom? Maybe being on social media again made it all the more real that my son had died. The whole mess with the media just felt like a huge invasion of our privacy and it’s taken me a long time to get over that.

Going back to social media came with some other pitfalls. Do I share my grief? How much do I share? Will people just roll their eyes at the mom whose still crying over her loss from 6 years ago? I mean, she had 2 other babies, can’t she just be happy?

I am happy, but I am also grieving. And boy do I share it. I never in a million years thought I would be able to allow myself to be so vulnerable. But here I am. Blogging. And running a Facebook group. And sharing my feelings on my personal page. Because grief is a huge part of who I am now. And as much as that sucks, it’s my reality.

One of the best things that came about from getting back onto social media for me was connection. I have met so many other moms and dads going through what I’m going through. Suddenly, I don’t feel so alone.

Hours after our accident, friends of ours started a ‘YouCaring’ (now GoFundMe) site. We didn’t even know thetr were fundraising platforms for our situation and had no idea this was even going on for several days. Then all of a sudden we were given access to not only money, but so much love. We poured over the comments from complete strangers. It made it a little less worse when we felt all of that love. We watched as our community reached far and wide and embraced us.

We were able to create a book with all of the beautiful comments shared on our sons obituary. We have every single thing written about him/to us from friends, family and strangers alike. It’s pretty amazing that we get to keep those sentiments to reflect on, because we certainly weren’t in a good state of mind to view them when it all happened.

It’s interesting how social media has shaped my grief process in the present vs. the past. I’m not saying it’s all good, because for me it’s certainly been complicated. All that access to information is bittersweet when you’re trying to deal with a delicate situation, such as sharing the news of the death of a loved one. But it can also be a platform to share memories too. I’m honestly not sure if I prefer my pre social media grief or not. I just know that either way, grief is complex. And it sucks.