Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My heavy heart

I have the heaviest of hearts, heavier than an anchor launched from its ship.  I can’t seem to move, frozen in the depths of grief for the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

When I learned of the shootings on Friday, I purposely did not turn on the TV.  I knew if I did, that I would be glued to it and so I would go on line to see what updates were given instead. I did this for the entire weekend.  We had so many plans to get together with friends and family, that I just needed to keep it off.  Not to mention, that I wasn’t ready to share the horrific events with my own 7 year old daughter Emilia and almost 6 year old son Lucas.  But I knew that sharing the events with them was inevitable, but I was buying time.

On Friday night, I did share with them, but very little detail of what happened.  At that time, there weren’t many questions.  Then on Sunday night, Roberto and I sat down with them to share basic information.  The children, their ages, what happened, when, where.  But I couldn’t share why, since I don’t even know that answer.  They were scared, but we reassured them that this was a very uncommon situation and that we will do our best as parents to keep them safe and that their teachers will do the very same.  I also wanted them to hear the truth from us.  I can’t control what they hear at school, but I can provide our own truth as to what happened.  Also, Emilia and Lucas has their own experiences with the death of their sister Abby, so death is not shied away from around our home.

The teachers.  The heroes that they are.  I was in the shower this morning and I closed my eyes and images of the teacher came to vision, holding her students, protecting them from harm.  These weren’t her children….yet they so were.  And she did the most selfless thing a human being could do, protect another human being from harms way.  To go there in that devastating space in my mind.   Horrifying yet so moving.  I can’t stop my tears.  God Bless her and the five other adults/teachers who sacrificed their lives.  And thank you to all of the teachers in Newtown, CT and each of our own teachers who care and nourish our children on our behalf.  You all amaze me. 

Monday morning, the TV came on after the kids went to school.  I found myself glued to CNN.  And I bawled and cried and felt a spread of emotions.  Anger for the murderer, he who shall not be named; anger for his mother, what was she thinking?  Sadness and despair, disbelief, heaviness in my mind and heart for the parents of those little angels.  When Abby died, the thought that weighed on me was “I don’t get it, I just don’t get it”, and here I am finding myself with this same tune in my mind, “I don’t get it, I just don’t get it”. 

I grieve for my own child and now I find myself multiplying that grief 27 times.  It is a heaviness I cannot describe.  Probably because it is all so fresh for myself.  Waking up this morning, I found myself coaching myself again.  “I can do this, I can do this”.  I have to get up to tend to the kids, to get the day going.  Trust me, I didn’t want to.  But I do my best to choose life.  “Life is for the living” they say. 

As I fold Emilia's laundry between the writing of my thoughts, I think of the families having to do the same for their child who will never come home.  I think of them, wondering what to do with their belongings, their toys, car seats, favorite movies, hats, mittens, coats, boots.  When Abby died, we had to return her car infant carrier to the store.  We had to fold her laundry, her little things.  But Abby was a baby and we didn't have much prepared for her since we weren't sure of her journey.  I don't know why I think this way.  It just puts me back to those first days of Abby's passing.  I feel their sorrow.....

I am so very relieved to see that the families are being loved, cared for and caressed as they have to endure such dark pain and sorrow, especially considering this time of year.  I feel helpless.  I soooo want to help them to ease their pain, since I resonate with them in their grief.  Each of those victims are someone’s child.  And that just breaks my heart.

I pray that our loving, caring and caressing for these families will continue beyond just the initial stages of this.  This is a lifetime of sorrow, of pain, of grief.  To those who are close to each of them, please, wrap your loving arms around them, and please, never ever let them go…..

In honor of the victims, I added them to my nightly prayers in my Remembering with Prayer post.  I know in my heart that each of these victims were greeted by Jesus at the Gates of Heaven.  I believe that with all my heart, I have to.  The victims are now Saints, perfect in Jesus’ arms.  It is us who bear the burden of their absence.  I pray that Jesus continues to carry all of us through this time of despair.  God Bless.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A poem about suffering and loss

I started to write a new post to express grief reactions but came across this well written poem and it is almost perfect! This explains how we as grieving parents can be supported by our family and friends. Grieving parents 'get' this, without a doubt. But most parents aren't grieving, and those who are wouldn't want you to be.

I have to admit, I am growing weary of the things that people say to me, don't say to me, do and don't do. Roberto can relate to half of my complaints!  The other half, not so much!  But I know it is said and done out of not knowing what to say or do because things can be uncomfortable or awkward or they just want to make me feel better.  

A hug or saying that you don't know what to say is a much more welcomed response.  Please please know that I love you all.  And out of love, I need to share this.   For us.  For you and for me.

Unless you’ve lost a child…

Don't ask us if we are over it yet. We'll never be over it.
A part of us died with our child.
Don't tell us they are in a better place.
They are not here with us, where they belong.
Don't say at least they are not suffering.
We haven't come to terms with why they suffered at all.
Don't tell us at least we have other children.
Which of your children would you have sacrificed?
Don't ask us if we feel better.
Bereavement isn't a condition that clears up.
Don't force your beliefs on us.
Not all of us have the same faith.
Don't tell us at least we had our child for so many years.
What year would you choose for your child to die?
Don't tell us God never gives us more than we can bear.
Right now we don't feel we can handle anything else.
Don't avoid us. We don't have a contagious disease, just unbearable pain.
Don't tell us you know how we feel, unless you have lost a child.
No other loss can compare to losing a child. It's not the natural order of things.
Don't take our anger personally.
We don't know who we are angry at or why and lash out at those closest to us.
Don't whisper behind us when we enter a room.
We are in pain, but not deaf.
Don't stop calling us after the initial loss.
Our grief does not stop there and we need to know others are thinking of us.
Don't be offended when we don't return calls right away.
We take each moment as it comes and some are worse than others.
Don't tell us to get on with our lives.
We each grieve differently and in our own time frame.
Grief cannot be governed by any clock or calendar.
Do say you are sorry. We're sorry, too, and you saying that you share our sorrow is far better than saying any of those tired cliches you don't really mean anyway. 
Just say you're sorry.
Do put your arms around us and hold us.
We need your strength to get us through each day.
Do say you remember our child, if you do.
Memories are all we have left and we cherish them.
Do let us talk about our child.
Our child lived and still lives on in our hearts, forever.
Do mention our child's name. It will not make us sad or hurt our feelings.
Do let us cry. 
Crying is an important part of the grief process.
Cry with us if you want to.
Do remember us on special dates.
Our child's birth date, death date and holidays are a very lonely and difficult time for us without our child.
Do send us cards on those dates saying you remember our child.
We do.
Do show our family that you care.
Sometimes we forget to do that in our own pain.
Do be thankful for children.
Nothing hurts us worse than seeing other people in pain.

Original version was written by Mary Cleckley, Atlanta, GA ~
~ Revised by Wendy Lockman ~

Before you leave, I'd also like to add some additional thoughts:

Please don't tell me "I don't know how you do it".  It feels like an empty cliche.
Please don't say "I wouldn't be able to get out of bed if it were me".  Another empty cliche.
There’s the lovely expression, “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say it at all”.
And Please don’t tell me I have other children to take care of.   I wish I was taking care of all four of them.

Please love me. Respect me.  Hold me.  I’ve changed.  I’m not the same.  My heart has been shattered into a thousand pieces and I’m trying to pick those pieces up and paste them back together.  I can’t find some of them right now.  Once I manage to find them and then get them glued back together, there will still be cracks and crevices.  The color is and will be different.  I will be different.  I am different.  I've changed.  I'm not the same.