Grief Walk

 I am strong, until Im not.
3 years and waves still come. Dreams visit me, flashes of memories during the darkest of days. I shutter with fear, pain, embarrassment.
 one is airport... jumping islands trying to get home. Walt yelling at people. Me frozen at starbucks waiting, and waiting.
 I was angry with stewardess about a pillow?
and I called Jim names... Liar being one of them. awful
 the mind is very strange
 I was at a bakery just after seeing my boy? Buying foods?
How long will this go on? I do the work, I have gone through the stages. I have the opposite of understanding.
4.28.11
I havent been able to figure out why I have such a bloggers block. It must be the result of the latest tradedy in our family.  The loss of my neice Katie.
Katie Doodle my sidekick kid. For 20 years or so she delighted me with her personality which was fairly close to my own. She and my first born as well, were very close growing up. I am in hopes that she (katie) and Jamie are frolicking in heaven together, taking care of those left here to miss them.
I find it very strange that the very moment I feel strong enough to work on Jamies tee shirt quilts, I fall again. Now admittedly I have kept it all inside to be helpful to my kids. Honestly, since her Memorial service, its become increasingly difficult to hide. While Katie's goodbye festivities were meant to be uplifting in a celebration of her life, I found nothing celebratory about it. I made a beeline for home when I should have stayed a few days longer to be with the family. I now wonder if I had a fight or flight moment and I chose the latter. I spoke to Mr Wizard about this. I felt quite validated when he told me that the "trend" of celebrating ones life as opposed to mourning and closure, was in his opinion, delaying the process of grieving, and an untruth period. A funeral is for the living, to say goodbye, to have closure, and to mourn. Its no wonder these years have been so hard on me. While the loss of James brought NO celebrations, my "Jackie O" stiff upper lip handling it, wasnt such a good idea afterall. Hindsight.
Katie's Mother, my ex sister in law, but forever a sister in my heart, and a bff from way back when, is now in this painful grief club. I just ache for her. An hour doesnt pass that I ask God how to help. Short of a phone call, foods, or an offer to make a katie quilt, I am lost. I know how others felt for me. Grunt.
I push on with no answers. I think I know less than ever. I know this. Life is short, fragile, and ever so unknown. I know that my daily quality of life is even more important than ever now, for I have no idea if I will enjoy tomorrow with those that I love. I know that today is Thursday and I will make it count.
3.18.11
Yesterday I decided that my body was not co operating with the whole move, unpack, huck boxes thingy. I had spent over an hour on the computer learning the new above feature of "tabs". I was feeling guilty for being on line and not physically working. However I am REALLY sore & tired! Trying to fit things into the shop is not an easy task, however, blogging about grief isnt either. Since 2 giant Rubbermaid storage containers were staring me in the face, I thought maybe now... maybe now 3 years later I could stop hauling Jamies clothes around and make the tee shirt quilts.DANGER, I know. If photos are difficult, how in the heck could I possibly get into his clothes? Especially when my home is a wreck, my studio the same, and there is so much to do should I even tackle this?
I'm doing it. I need to recover my body, make some storage room, and walk through this damn fire.
I'm doing it. DANGER.
For 6 hours straight I sorted, sniffed, measured, cut, inhaled James scent still on his clothing. I did'nt die. I'm still breathing. Its amazing. I fell from time to time. I scared myself and texted my daughter a few times. I also had a different feeling. I was able to recall memories fondly. I saw Jamie wearing some things, hearing his laugh and seeing him smile. I could feel his presence and hear him telling which tee shirt went into what quilt, and WHO to give it to. One might think this was my own mind speak, but I would disagree.
This kid was such a saver. I have his swim team tee's, baseball, Hume Lake camp outs, his beloved Wolf tee's and then there are those drinking shirts from his concert trips. He loved shirts with stupid sentiments on them. His favorites are evident in thier wear and tear. One thing that I find odd beyond belief is there are 3, count the 3 shirts from Maui, specifically. Now as far as I know, he has never been to Maui, but it was where I WAS when the life changing call came in. I am still scratching my head about this one. Could he have gone and I dont remember? I will ask the kids today too.
In all of his clothing, bedding, etc, it is very clear that which was important to him. His pride in his brothers military tours is one of them. Even the duffle bag from boot camp was saved and now, cut up. His passion for music like his Mama, and the damned love of drinking too. ( not mama) I scolded him as I always have for that.
I went to sleep last night with the day on my mind, the scent of him all over me, his slippers on my feet, and guess what? I slept.
Amazing, just amazing.
60 Tee shirts in all and jeans and dress shirts ahead of me for today. I am not afraid. I am in hopes that this will bring comfort to the kids and his Dad....and me.
Heres the initial picture. I will take you with me on this journey too K? If ya wanna come:)
LYG
G

3.17.11

Well... I have entered the fifties. GRUNT. I have suffered more loss than legally allowed, and still I breath. Three lonesome years have gone by since last I saw my Sons smile. Heard him belly laugh, or tell me a joke. One year has gone by without the hand of my Mother to hold or her ear to listen to my woes. Nearly six months passed without the strength of Mufasa in which to draw from. He and I have recently  re-united and are trying to save a great journey we call love. I am hopeful, but I will never again say never to anything. (or forever). In as many months I have lost the great companionship of my pal Rudy, for which I am not yet able to speak of. Please forgive.
 I feel that I have more than earned every gray hair that I try to hide and the freight train of aging cannot be stopped. I am certain of one thing... I have survived the very worst in life,(in my subjective opinion) and still I smile sometimes, love somehow. So NOTHING will ever destroy me. Not a man, not a kid, not finances. nothing. For that, I have become an empowered woman. It doesn't mean that I do not walk this flaming path of grief. I still do that too. The flames are higher on some days, licking at my heels and threatening my mind. It is cathartic to write and to have friend's (albeit in the box or in person) who will go through the fire with me. That which is no longer inside of me, can no longer cause pain. ::AS MUCH:::
I dont like to focus on pain, therefore I have this writing tabbed now. I can hide it a bit, and those who do not wish to cry with me, do not have to. Look! We can both CLIC right off right? ( sorry, humor always injected somewhere).
Long story short. I decided to build a page where I can vent. My end goal is to have hopefully helped myself through having helped someone else begin their own grief walk/talk.

re post from main blog:  A Note About Grief

I'd like to talk about grief. The process for those close to you. Maybe, somehow it can help both you the reader, and me the griever. I truly have so much going on in my world that isn't positive, I think that when I help others, I actually help myself. I want so much for this half of a year hold on rotten-ness to be over... turn it around.. I just cant find a way to do it? I sometimes feel that I am spinning my wheels doing things to make things positive, only to be slammed again. There have been so many life changes around here that its a wonder I'm not running down the street Naked right about now.... its just unimaginable... all of it. I refuse to have a pity party about it.. but whats the dang answer people? So here goes... I am in hopes that it helps someone, including me...

Ways to help a grieving Mother

* Be there. I can't tell you how many people were just there for us. From day one, moment one, even now. Our close friends came by to sit with us. Notice, I say friends. I did not really want to be around people that I was not close to. I did not want to have to work at putting on the brave face. There wasn't one there.

* Don't try to fix things. Nothing you or anyone else can do will fix the situation. You can't "make it better." Trying to fix it is just patronizing and upsetting. After all, I couldn't fix it myself, and I consider myself to be a pretty good fixer upper.

*Sharing Skin... TOUCH. It is amazing how much a hug, an arm....a hand, can HELP heal. Friends could reduce me to tears with a hug and yet, at the same time, make me feel so much better. It was like they were taking part of my burden upon themselves; trying to lighten my load.

* Let them cry. I really don't like to cry in front of people. (well, maybe a friend or 2...) But when you have lost your child, just get used to it. God gave us the ability to cry for a reason. There is something healing about it. So, let them cry when they feel like it. Don't feel like you did something wrong when they cry. The smallest things can set them off. (and still do)

* Listen. ....I think part of what is helping me deal with my grief is to just be able to talk through it out loud to someone else. When I started thinking to myself, I would always stop myself before I got too far down a thought process. Change the channel Gina quick! But, when talking out loud, it is like I am figuring things out. Don't feel like you have to respond when they start talking about it. Give them time to think through what they want to say and get it all out before you respond.

* Help them change the channel by whisking them away for a coffee, a lunch, a walk, or a manicure. Its brief, and a little uncomfortable, but it works for a little while. I now call it my brain resting place.

* Be willing to sit in silence. When you don't know what to say, it is ok just to sit there. Again, your presence is a comfort even more than words can be some times. It lets them know you care. Again, sharing skin: "touch", is an amazing, healing tool.

* Send food. (& other things) I know this sounds gooberish and truthfully, I always thought it to be lame at best, but when you have just gone through a tragedy...and are still going through it...( I am STILL going through it) the last thing you think about is feeding yourself or anyone else who appears in your home, yet I feel compelled to, and cannot. Remember, WE are the natural nurturers, and normal, is no longer normal. When there are family members coming in and out, the last thing you want to think about is how you are going to feed them. God bless the neighbors who just leave fresh vegetables hanging on my front door knob.

* Understand that they may have irrational thoughts- and that's o.k. I never would have thought I would say, feel, or do some of the things I did after losing Jamie, until I was there. Grief will cause a person to feel things that are abnormal for them. I equate it to misfiring in the brain. Things just wouldn't "connect". Don't criticize them for those feelings or thoughts. If you do, they may not share them with anyone any more. Holding those things in is not healthy. Talking through those feelings is healthy.

*Try to avoid saying those "stupid things" that come out of people's mouths without thinking. For example, we heard things like..."Well, its a shame a seat belt could have saved his life."Helpful? NO! Don't start down the paths of the "what if" game. People can "what if" themselves to death, but it won't change anything. We also heard, "It was all in God's plan." While it sounds like it should be comforting, it really is not. I do not understand why God's plan would let Jamie die, and another son live...why would he allow so much pain?Now.... I don't think God wanted us to suffer like this, but for some reason, he chose not to interfere. Which brings me to another one, "You will understand it one day." That may be so, (though I doubt it) but that does not make it any easier at the time. Don't say you know how they feel unless you have been through the same thing before.

* Talk about the baby. The child. The Teen. The man. One of my fears is that people will forget. For the first few weeks after the funeral, no one mentioned going by the cemetery. This made me feel like they had all just moved on and he was no longer important. In reality, they had been going frequently, but had not said anything because they were afraid to upset me. Once they started talking about him freely, I would cry, yes, but I felt so much better about it. No one can ever forget their child, brother, uncle, grandson, friend. I ache incredibly so, for the last 26 years of memories of my son. Share a familiar funny tale or two..... laughter through tears, my favorite medicine.

* It is MORE than o.k. to leave pictures of them up. Taking the pictures down seems as if they are out of sight, out of mind. Leaving them up says that you still love them and they are still important. Don't tell them to box him up and put him away, that's just cruel.

* Don't be afraid of the work ahead of you. Being around someone who is grieving is not an easy thing. They can tell when you are just going through the motions and that does not help anyone. Sharing in someones suffering means that when you ask how they are doing, or offer to let them talk, you are prepared to be there as long as it takes. Don't judge them. Don't tell them they should not feel the way they do. Be ready to take anything they may throw out without correcting. As much as you want to, you need to just let them vent. Put yourself into them, or get out of their way.

* Try not to avoid them, as it feels like desertion, when in reality, people are just afraid of how to act, what to say or do. Theres something Unholy about the loss of your child, and everybody knows that. Feels that. Its normal, I'm told, for people to do this.... but I'm telling you the perception isn't comforting at all. If you love them, try harder.

*Lastly, Pray. Pray with them, pray for them. Call every prayer warrior that you know, pray for them on your own. When I first lost Jamie, I could not pray on my own. I felt like I had prayed for God to save him, bring him back, or make it a mis identity case with everything that was in me, and when he did not, I didn't have anything left to pray about. Nothing. I had feelings of betrayal... broken promises. Promises that I have kept close to me through all of these years. A promise that if I taught my children the way they should go, they would never stray. A promise that through my prayer covers alone, they would remain safe. It worked brilliantly, until now. That is when the prayers of others carried me. I knew that I needed it, I just couldn't do it for myself, yet. To be honest, I still struggle. I found myself one day praying together with my children around Jamie's grave site, still angry. Shameful, but true. Again I say... My mind knows better, but my heart wont listen.

Thanks for listening to a grieving Mother. Again. Still. Grunt.

6 comments:

Prairie Girl said...

OMG this is so amazing and beautiful and enlightening and good... I'm so glad you opened this tab...

You have healed me so much this past 10 months.. Your beauty and wisdom and the generosity of which you share both are precious to me.. You are a miracle to me... I love and appreciate you more than you will ever know.. or maybe you will know if I keep telling you.... you'll visualize the duct tape across my mouth, but you will know...

Angels on your body.
T.

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks with you. I know the feelings. July 13, 1994 my world changed forever. One of my sons (I am blessed with 4 sons) was murdered my his girlfriend's ex-husband. He was drunk. He took my child away. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison. He is out of prison now, free. My husband reminds me that he will be judged someday by the one that really matters. That he must live the rest of his life knowing he took my son's life. I pray that I can forgive this man. Somedays I think I have... somedays I cannot! I have a hole in my heart that will never close.
Linda Kay

Dear Gina said...

I pray for peace for the both of us Linda. I wish the hole would get smaller, but it doesnt :(

Mary said...

Thank you for posting this. This will help me to help my friends. Hugs.

Penelope Q said...

Hi- I found this ? Don't know how really- I am greiving over my precious pet dog that I had for over 12 years & stumbled upon your blog somehow. You are so amazing & honest & helpful & full of love. God bless you- you have a huge loss, yet in my loss God is helping me to have more compassion for others. You have helped me a lot:)

Penelope Q said...

You are so helpful to the grieving heart- your honesty is so refreshing , like the new rain that washes & comes in waves to refresh.... Bless you!

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