"Grieving the loss of a child is a process, it begins the day your child passes and ends the day the parent joins them."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"An Ugly Pair of Shoes"

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some, have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some, have worn the shoes so long that days will go by,
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

~Author Unknown~

This one, is one of my favorite poems about being a bereaved parent. Although that sounds odd..saying I have a "favorite" poem regarding bereavement, but it's true, I have several that I like and several that I re-read to myself quite often. I don't really like the fact that I have favorite poems such as this one, which is clearly written by a grieving/bereaved parent..but that's my life now. I have to find some way to feel like I fit in someplace. Sadly, this is where I fit now. And I hate every single second of it.

The 23rd of each month stinks for us. And for some strange reason, our family has lost 4 family members on the 23rd day of the month. Two were Apr 23 and two on July 23..of different years. My aunt passed away last week, on none other than the 23rd of this month. My family all think we should just skip the 23rd of each month. Just erase it off our calendars..if only it were that easy. Carly was of course Apr 23, last year. 5 yrs before, on the exact day that we lost Carly, my cousin, Dawn's son and girlfriend were killed in an automobile accident. July 23, 2009 we lost one of my aunts and this year July 23, we lost another aunt.

Today, I went with my parents (Paul didn't go, he not ready for a funeral) to my aunts funeral. I went to the visitation on Monday night and boy was I nervous about going to that, but I did okay. However, I did not go up to the casket. I sat in the back of the room with my cousin. This is the first funeral home I've gone to since Carly's funeral; 15months ago. But today, well it was a totally different story. I thought I was going to get through it okay. I sat down, while my parents, brother and sister in-law went to see the family. I was alright. Even when the service started I was alright, but...when they played a song, I lost it. The song was, In The Garden, it was one of the 6 songs played at Carly's funeral. OMG, I wasn't sure I would be able to stop crying. I really was NOT expecting to have that kind of reaction. As the service went on, I got settled down and then the pastor said it was time for another song. I sat there thinking..I can get out of here, the door is only a few feet away from where we're setting. I wasn't sure what I would do, had another one of the songs played during Carly's funeral, came over the speakers. I wanted to bolt out the door before it started, but just couldn't make myself move. So, I sat there. Thankfully it was a song that I had never heard before.

There will never be a "right" time to go to a funeral. That stands true for everyone. But, it can not be avoided forever. I suppose I will always have that 'twinge' whenever I step foot in a funeral home. Not that I've ever liked going to a funeral, but it's just different now. I will likely cry over a similar service, song, prayer..etc. Although, I really should have thought about songs being played. I should have prepared myself a little more, but I was busy trying to convince myself that I could get through it. And you know what? I got through it. I managed. And I was able to give some comfort, if only just a little, along with some support to my cousins and my uncle, just like they did for us when we lost Carly.

As for my "ugly pair of shoes" they hurt like HELL....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Basement People and Balcony People

By: Traci Cooley (Bereaved Mother, Tampa, Florida)

Shortly after my daughter Malena died, I started a home based business to keep busy. During

the course of this business venture, I was able to attend the company's annual convention

These conventions are geared toward encouraging and motivating the sales teams to sell, sell,

and sell. There are workshops and motivational speakers all pushing you into “expanding your

business”. As I sat through many of these speakers, most of what they said I related to

surviving the death of my precious daughter rather than expanding my business. Three years

later, one of the workshops I attended that weekend keeps popping into my head as my grief

process extends past what the world finds “comfortable”.

The workshop was called “Balcony People and Basement People”.

Basement people-are people who constantly pull you down or discourage you.

Basement people, in our grieving process can and do cause us much hurt and distraction. They are people who do not wish to hear about your child; they do not want to talk about your hurt, or actively help you go through the grief process. Basement people are also people who say ugly or uneducated things about your loss such as “Aren’t you over that by now?” Basement people criticize your bereavement or question every method you chose in dealing with your loss. Basement people make everything about them and their feelings; disregarding the fact that it is your child who died. Basement people can cause a lot of hurt (often, unintended) to you during your bereavement process.

Balcony people-are the people who pull you forward and along the road of grief.

Balcony people come beside you and cry with you, spend time listening to you talk of your child and tell you stories they remember, too. Balcony people encourage you to seek ways to heal and process your loss. They understand that the way you chose to deal with the death of your beloved child may not be their way but it is what is good for you. Balcony people understand when you do not want them around but stand by just in case you change your mind. Balcony people cook or clean for you because you just do not have the energy. Or, they do not comment when the house is a little (or a lot) messier than it used to be. Balcony people understand that you will never be the “old” you and help you to find the “new” you who will emerge through the grief and loss you have sustained.

Take the time to identify the Balcony people and Basement people in your life. Spend

most of your time with the Balcony people and try to limit the time with Basement

people; if possible. Balcony people pull you up, cheer you on, encourage you and take

care of you when you most need it. Basement people pull you down, criticize and find

fault in what you do. Balcony people and Basement people; we all have them in our

lives. It is our choice of who we allow to be part of our bereavement process and our

lives. I choose my Balcony people.

I found the above writings, on my online "Grieving Mothers" facebook page. I spend an awful lot of time on that page. It's the only place where every. single. person. KNOWS first hand, my thoughts and feelings. They all get it. They've all been there. I do have to admit, sometimes it really scares me when I read of other writings from bereaved moms (and dads). I see their grief that continues on for years and years after the death of their child/children. It makes me realize, this grief, is a never ending journey.

When I read what Traci wrote, I realized that I too, am experiencing this very thing. The "basement" people and the "balcony" people.

Sadly, during the course of the past 15+ months, I've encountered more "basement" people than I have "balcony" people. I've had a couple of people actually lash out and attack me (online). Over crap they started. Oh My GOSH, they were relentless, like pit bulls who refused to let loose their grip. I can't lie, it hurt me deeply. But, no matter how they tried to keep me riled up, hurt me and pull me down, , , to their level... I knew in my gut, what I am dealing with goes so much deeper than their pettiness. I don't have time for pettiness in my life. No time for those "basement" people. The ones who think, 'oh my god, isn't she over this yet' or 'oh my god, is she still whining about her daughter dying? When will she just be over it' NEWS FLASH~~ I. Will. Never. Be. Over. It. And it, would be the death of my child.

As for "balcony" people. I have several. I've been a bit surprised that they are not the people I thought, would surely be my "balcony" people. But, I'm learning...that people are often times, not what they seem. The death of your child, brings a whole new light to the faces of the people that you once knew so well. The death of your child, puts EVERYTHING into perspective.

I do understand that some people, will not be able to accept the fact that I am not the same person that I was 15+months ago. I m just not. I can't help it. I didn't ask for this change to take place. I sure as HELL don't like it and I want nothing to do with it. BUT..this is the way it is. This is me now. Either bear with me, as I find my way through this living nightmare and accept the fact that I am trying hard to find the "new" me. Or, become a "basement" person and I will leave you behind. Quite honestly, I do not need "basement" people dragging me down. This is gonna be a very long and bumpy journey for me and my family. While I/we find my/our way through this bumpy, twisting, never ending journey.

I will be holding tight to my "balcony" people.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


By: Betty Baggott, Alabama Baptist BOD, her words are in black, mine are red.

-I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was important, and I need to hear her name. We have experienced this SO often. Brad's friend was so scared to say "Carly". Which I can understand,he's young and had no idea how to handle the situation... but I did speak her name and we all talked about her. He was more comfortable and so were we.

- If I cry or get emotional if we talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me; the fact that my child died has caused me tears. You have allowed me to cry, and I thank you. Crying and emotional outbursts are healing. Most often, I can keep my tears private, but many times.. I just can't. It's never because anyone made me upset, it's because...that's me now. Good days are few and far between...bad and sad days are much more frequent.

- I wish you wouldn’t “kill” my child again by removing from your home his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances. I know that my family still has Carly's pictures out. My parents still have a drawing or two on their fridge. I think they still have the magnetic letters on their fridge too,,they spell C A R L Y. :**(

- I will have emotional highs and lows, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn’t think that if I have a good day my grief is all over, or that if I have a bad day I need psychiatric counseling. I m fairly certain some people think I need psychiatric help...and some days, I wonder that myself, but rest assured, my doctor and my counselor have both confirmed that when I feel that way, it's a "normal" symptom of grief.

- I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separately. It is the ultimate tragedy, and I wish you wouldn’t compare it to your loss of a parent, a spouse, or a pet. We have had many, many people compare our loss to their parent and even a pet. Not having lost a parent, I can not relate to them, but I do know that most children out live their parents..and that's the way it's suppose to be. We buried many pets and our last two dogs were gut wrenching for us. We cried and cried for those beloved pets and trust me, that was nothing compared to this. Pets are replaceable..kids are not.

- Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. We have had so many people shy away from us in the past 15months. We know it's because they have no idea what to say to us. Which is sad. And we also know that some may fear hearing about our loss. It may be overwhelming for them and they just don't want to hear about it. That's pretty sad too.

- I wish you knew that all of the “crazy” grief reactions that I am having are in fact very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following the death of a child. Most of you know that I m dealing with some major depression, anger and anxiety and I sure don't know what I believe anymore. It's like being stuck between a rock and a hard place...literally.

- I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. The first few years are going to be exceedingly traumatic for us. As with alcoholics, I will never be “cured” or will I be a “former bereaved parent,” but will forevermore be a “recovering bereaved parent.” There is no time limit on grief. Please don't assume we are over it. We will never be over it. It just plain sucks to be known as "a bereaved parent".

- I wish you understood the physical reactions to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, develop a host of illnesses, and be accident prone – all of which may be related to my grief. Well, as of today, I'm down 27lbs! Not because I m not eating. I wasn't eating the first several months into this nightmare, but I m now. I actually joined Weight Watchers in mid April. And I love it. It gives me something to focus on and right now, it's the only thing in my life that I can control. As for being accident prone. I sure am. Just in the past month, I've had 2 grills blow up in my face. Thanks to my very 'un-focused' mind. My mind just does not focus on much these days (other than my Weight Watchers). I have to take medication just to get a few hours of sleep. And last week, I blew the gas grill up in my face and singed my eyelashes, eyebrows, facial hair, hair on my arms and fried the flipping hair on my head. A few weeks earlier I lit the charcoal grill and forgot that I had actually lit the dumb thing...so, I added a shit ton more lighter fluid and tossed in a match,,, BOOM, right in my face. Can't figure out why I haven't burned my face all to pieces. Thankfully, I haven't. Paul has warned me, "PAY CLOSER ATTENTION TO THE GRILLS"...

- Our child’s birthday, the anniversary of her death, and holidays are terrible times for us. I wish you could tell us that you are thinking about our child on these days, and if we get quiet and withdraw, just know that we are thinking about our child and don’t try to coerce us into being cheerful. No one has tried to make us be cheerful during any of these times. We have had a few laughs during these times, but we've had our quiet times too.

- It is normal and good that most of us re-examine our faith, values, and beliefs after losing a child. We will question things we have been taught all our lives and hopefully come to some new understanding with our God. Oh boy, do I ever question everything I've ever believed in. Things I had been taught throughout my childhood have all but been tossed out the window. No matter how hard I try to understand God, it's just not happening for me. I don't understand anything about God now, and I fear that I never will again.

-I wish you would let me tangle with my religion without making me feel guilty. Not many people object to my thoughts on religion right now. My head is just to messed up to think about it. And I appreciate the fact that no one is throwing it in my face.

- I wish you wouldn’t offer me drinks or drugs. These are just temporary crutches and the only way I can get through this grief is to experience it. I have to hurt before I can heal. No one but waiters and waitresses have offered me alcohol. As for drugs,, well unless they are prescribed by my doctor...that's not happening either.

- I wish you understood that grief changes people. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I never will be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to “get back to my old self,” you will stay frustrated. I am a new creature with new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values, and beliefs. Please try to get to know the new me – maybe you’ll like me still. I've been saying this long before I read the writings of Betty Baggott. I am NOT the same person and I don't like it anymore than anyone else. I find myself saying things to other people that I would never do before losing Carly. I don't bite my tongue and cower and let things slide, just to avoid a big time..maybe I should, but it doesn't happen anymore. I am NOT the same person. I didn't ask for this change in me. And most often, I don't even like myself..but, due to my life taking a drastic change for the worse,,,this is me now. Either like me..or not, I suppose that's the jest of .

I believe that instead of sitting around and waiting for our wishes to come true, we have an obligation to tell people some of the things we have learned about our grief. We can teach these lessons with great kindness, believing that people have good intentions and want to do what is right, but just don’t know what to do with us. We have had some people offer to help us out in some way shape or form, but for the most part people say, "let me know if you need help" or "do you want me to bring a meal? just let me know, call me" Well first off,,,,most often "we" the parents who are grieving, will NOT ask for help. We kind of have other things on our minds. You may mean well and that's a really nice thing, it is. But in reality, we (bereaved parents) are not likely to call you up and ask you for anything. Take it upon yourselves to help a bereaved parent. Their world, as they knew it has stopped turning. Step up. Don't expect to be called upon, it rarely will happen that way.

Pick your phone up and call us just to chat. Don't assume and fear that we will only talk about our child who has passed away. Some times a 10 minute phone call to just say, "hi, I was just thinking about you today" really means so much and can lift our spirits, if were having a rotten day. It also reminds us that people really do care about you..because more often than not, you believe no one gives a crap. One of my girlfriends called me today, just because. She lives in Florida now and even tho., we only talked about 15minutes, it was so good to hear from her and to know she thinks about me and my family.

About the worse thing you can do to a bereaved friend, is vanish from their lives. So, if at some point you find yourself in a situation knowing a bereaved parent, don't expect them to reach out to you...YOU need to reach out to them. Don't tell them to call you, it may not happen, their lives have been turned upside down. But YOU could pick up the phone and call them.

I've become friends with several bereaved parents, all through facebook. I belong to a group of bereaved moms. Most of those moms feel these very same things. However, we do try to understand that people kind of fear us now. Either they are afraid of saying the wrong thing or they are afraid of us saying something about our child and the thought of that makes them very uncomfortable. We understand that other people have lives, busy lives..we get that. But, our minds are a jumbled mess and we long for some sense of normalcy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Closing in, on 15 months...

.....as July 23 approaches.

It is coming straight at us, just as every single 23rd of each month does. We dread the date. Hate knowing that 15months is closing in on us. 15months since I last held Carly in my arms. 15months since I've soaked in her scent. 15 months since I've heard her sweet little voice and her infectious chuckle. 15months since I've kissed her teeny tiny little nose at night, while she would lay sleeping between Paul and I. 15months since she greeted her "Paul" by running through the house yelling, "PAUL, PAUL!" and jumping into his awaiting, open arms each night after work.

As far as grieving our loss. Yes, we are still grieving our baby girl. We're still at that point; a point where I'm sure we will remain for many, many years to come - if not forever. Some days, I m fairly certain that we will not survive this. Sometimes, I hope to not survive this. Now, by no means am I talking about suicide. But being truthful, there are times that I could care less if I were here on this earth any longer....or not. Then I snap back into the here and now..and know that I long for Carly and always will, but I have a family who would be suffering two losses. And that's not okay with me.

Some days, I m sure that this must all be just a horrible nightmare and I just know that I'm going to wake up from it eventually. Except, that never happens. Most days, I m still in disbelief that this has happened in our lives. Yes, of course I KNOW we lost our baby, we buried her, I watched her die...I KNOW. But, this nightmare of losing our child, it's just way, way to much to bear. I think this particular thought all day, every day --- how can it be? This wasn't suppose to happen. It wasn't expected to happen. She was doing so good. She was playing at my brothers house the night before. None of us had any idea we would lose her the following morning. What the Hell happened? How did it end so fast? Questions that I m sure, will never leave us. Please, don't tell me, "it was Gods will".... I'm not gonna buy it. And FYI...grieving mothers Do Not Like Being Told, "it was Gods will". Trust me, none of us like being told that..so please refrain. Thank you.

I have realized, over the course of these almost 15months, that I have pretty much lost my identity. Carly was my identity. She was I all new for 8 yrs. I am completely lost without her. I don't know who I am anymore. It's scary not having your identity. You think you know who you are and BAMM...just like that, it's taken away from you and you are left to try and find yourself again. I lived and breathed that little girl. Went to HELL and back so many times with her. And that's who I want to be again. But of course, we all know....I will never be that person again. Ever. I am trying to find myself, but my gosh it's hard. There are so many road blocks, so many stepping stones, so many hurdles in my way. It's such a horrible struggle that most of the time, I m just not up to. I don't like having to find a "new" me. I liked the old me, the "mama" me.

Paul and I have been having an awful time the last few months. We argue. More than we ever had. Over the stupidest things imaginable. Paul and I never fight or argue. This is new for us. We may disagree, but fight and argue?? No. I guess this is due to the shitty hand in life, that we've been dealt.

Paul, however, has been having a terrible time. I worry about him. A few weeks ago, after a fight/argument, we both started crying. Crying because our hearts are broken and will be, forever. Paul needs to get some help. He just hasn't come to that point of accepting the fact that he needs it. And, he's a man...(most men tend to think it's a sign of weakness if they seek help). On that day, while we both cried our eyes out, he admitted to me that all he sees, every. single. moment. of. the. day., from the time he opens his eyes each morning, to the time he closes them each night, is Carly's little face while inside that ambulance.

For reasons unknown to us, Paul was placed in charge of Carly's care inside that ambulance. Such a heavy burden for him to carry with him for the rest of his life. The only training Paul has ever had, is basic CPR. He did ALL the chest compression and didn't stop. 20 miles to the nearest hospital and Paul never stopped! The EMT's completely freaked out when Carly went into cardiac arrest. Unsure as to why they freaked. They knew full well that she was a cardiac patient. But, they had no idea what to do for her. In fact, the only thing they did, was start a damn IV in our driveway and injected her with Epi, several times, directly into her IV. Their hands never even touched our sweet girl. Makes us sick. It was likely because they were so busy jumping around the ambulance pulling binders out of binder bins and reading up on what to do. That was precious time wasted. And, if they weren't trained to handle an emergency type of situation...what the HELL were they doing on this call?? Now, I'm no doctor, nurse, paramedic or EMT, BUT I've spent a heck of a lot of time in ER's and inpatient with Carly and I've seen her in big trouble - health crisis' - and close calls of near death - several times..and 1 thing I learned...the parents are in the way...the professionals take over. Sadly, that did not happen for Carly. What really sucks the most, was hearing her cardiologist (during a meeting with him a few months ago) tell us, "had they got her to us, had they followed protocol; which would have bought her time to get to UofM and into our hands, Carly's chances of surviving this cardiac arrest would have been about 70%." Nice kick in the gut eh? Please tell me, how in the world are we suppose to come to terms with all this now? Especially after being told this by the head of ped's cardio doc at Motts/UofM. Our poor girl was doomed in the hands of those EMT's on that horrible day. We often feel as tho we just tossed her to the wolves.

I finally had to get to the doctor a couple weeks back. Thankfully, doc made a change in my anti-depressants, (I think Paul needs a change in his too). I'm on Celexa now, and am getting a higher dosage than I was taking, while on Lexapro. OMGosh, what a difference this new medication is making. I m not on edge as much. I m not blowing a gasket at every single thing that happens. I no longer have that constant, horrible feeling of being suffocated, it's there, but not as bad. Do I like the fact that I have to rely on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs? NOPE. But, I've come to realize, I can not function day to day without having them.

I realize I haven't been blogging in quite some time. To be honest, I just haven't had it in me. We've been having such a difficult time learning how to live without our sweet girl. A very, very difficult time. I'm still working on Paul, trying to get him to seek some professional help. I went for about 4months. Often times, I think I may have to start going again because as far as I can tell...this grief thing, is never ending. Closing in on 15months, SUCKS!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

At night when I fall asleep she is all I dream of...
The one who holds my heart, my angel from above...
I want to hold her in my arms,
comfort her when she weeps...
Be there to tuck her in at night, then gently kiss her on the cheek...
I want to tell her sweet dreams, before she lays her head to rest...
Then whisper softly in her ear, "to have you, I'm truly blessed"...
I want to be able to love her, prove to her that she's my world...
Then I wake up crying tears because I'm without my little girl...
My days without her hurt so bad, I wish I had her here with me, but

in my heart, she will forever be.