A Letter to the Mother I Never Wanted to Be

We mothers will never forget those precious moments when we held our children in our arms for the very first time. We cuddled our babies, sniffing these little miracles swaddled in blankets as we stared in awe of what we have just experienced.  Overflowing with unconditional love for our children, our hearts are forever changed. We would instantly sacrifice our own lives for these blessings from above. Our minds are etched with memories that eternally transform us from the inside out.

To be a mother. The most difficult job on earth but the most rewarding.  A job we fantasized about as children ourselves, never imagining the possibility of how a little being would change our lives, never once considering life without our children as we are caught up in explicit joy, when life couldn’t be more perfect.  We map out all of our children’s milestones and birthdays, planning for a successful and blissful future, down to the last detail.

Then suddenly without warning the day comes when circumstance out of our control happen and our child’s time here is over, forcing us to say goodbye. What? No one tells you this is even a possibility when your child is born.  Would that alter our perspective on wanting to be mothers? Would the pain be too much to bear, diverting us from embarking on such a journey?  Possibly.

Yet, no matter how long our children stay with us on earth, we are mothers forever and our souls are permanently changed.

We often lose ourselves as we are submerged in deep grief.  The connection with our souls and outside world is severed and we board the unpredictable emotional roller coaster for the rest of our lives.  We regulate the bundle of tears that lies just beneath the surface, waiting to flow when we are pierced with moments of sorrow.

We are unrecognizable from the mothers we used to be. We struggle to find ourselves in our new, and unfathomable journey, wondering why this had to happen to us.

Who are we? Honestly, I’m not sure. We know we are still mothers, however, we have become mothers we never wanted to be.  Mothers, who if honest would tell you the last time we cried was in the darkness of night just a few hours earlier.  A mother who keeps silent the internal struggles she faces as the sun rises every day knowing her child is not in her arms.

We long to remember how it physically felt to hold our children and their unique sweet scent we would give anything to smell again.

We retreat from the activities and events of others with children the same age, ridden with secret jealousy as we hide from the realization that our children will never get to experience such wonderful times.

Our Saturday nights turn from dinners with friends and social engagements to sitting in our pajamas wrapped in blankets on our beds frantically searching for online support, desperate to share our children and find someone who can be with us in our moment.

We madly try to erase those vivid images of our children’s last moments, those casket bearing pictures of unbelievable traumas that couldn’t possibly have been real.

We are mothers who have lost their motivation for life, who have become self-critics rehashing everything they should have done differently, obsessed in guilt.  Mothers who are vulnerable and afraid of the future.

This was the mom I was in my early years of grief.

Yet after ten years, she’s not afraid anymore.  She has grown in ways she never believed possible, living outside her comfort zone for so long.  How was it possible to live so long as a bereaved mother when we could barely breathe, believing we would never make it one day, let alone months or years?

There is no hiding our true self. We have less tolerance for the mundane and superficial things in life. We learn to be honest with ourselves opening our eyes to the beauty of being alive and the capacity to love unconditionally as we’ve known devastating loss.

We are talented and inherently blessed as we balance life in two worlds, embracing the pain of our past, while carrying our children with us into this uncertain future.  Bereaved mothers think of their children first thing in the morning and before their eyes close at night.

We walk blindly in faith, one day at a time, clinging to one another and the only hope we can find. We are lead on a destination of self-discovery and purpose, evaluating where we’ve been and where we are going, tossing aside our imperfections. Knowing the value of each breath, we navigate through the intricate weave of life’s delicate threads possessing heavy wisdom beyond anything imaginable. In due time, we will come to a place again of self- love and happiness.

We get it. Loss has ignited a passion for life a place to thrive while we’re waiting to for that ultimate reunion. We strive boldly to honor our loved ones while bursting with compassion and a vigorous drive to serve others.

The strength of a grieving mother is enormous.  As we unite, we create a place where life is real and pain is palpable, yet hope and faith dominate. Differences are washed away and we are transformed into super heroes without even being aware.  God holds us up.

United in loss, stronger together. We can do this.

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Nostalgic November

It’s been a trying last few weeks as I’ve been traveling a lot. I just finished up a spectacular elk hunt enjoying the solace of nature and returned home, reconnecting with the world.   While spending time hunting, on the job and with family, it has been exhausting to say the least.  Being pulled in many directions, I’ve found that I’ve not had the time to write or share posts, nor have any time to myself during these days but then realized that this is life. It doesn’t adhere to my anticipated plan. It doesn’t fit in the cookie cutter mold. There are sharp turns, steep hills, and at times I find myself going in reverse.   What in the world?  I’ve learned I’ve no choice but to embrace it.

With the recent passing of my beloved uncle and declining health of my father, the emotional roller coaster welcomes me. I’ve enjoyed reminiscing, laughing and crying, as the pendulum of feelings swings widely. Grieving our loved ones is so hard, whether their passing was expected or not, there is no easy way to say goodbye.

However, since Lydia passed away, and years progressed, I’ve been fine-tuned to seeking life’s blessings during hardships. Despite difficult circumstances, I know the darkest days will pass and the sun will shine again, all in its own time.

But that doesn’t make it any easier.  Life is so fragile and love is so powerful.  Fresh events of loss bring to the surface the true meaning of life. It makes us ponder why we are even here. What is our purpose? Why do some live longer than others? Why does life have to hurt so much?  How are we equipped to handle it all?

How fast these years pass.  It seems like only a few short years ago I was in college as a young, naïve lady who set out to conquer the world.  Fast forward 20+ years and here I am today, wiser beyond my years, living through the unimaginable.  So strange. No exactly the life I had planned for myself.

I still cannot believe its November already. This month is one that carries high emotional charges as Lydia’s birthday lands on or near Thanksgiving each year.  No matter how many years have passed, we bereaved parents will always have heavy hearts and endless tears during birthdays and holidays. Yes, even after ten years. Yikes!  It still is so hard for me to fathom that much time has passed since my darling daughter was here.

During November every year, I find myself craving connection with God, needing to read scripture to remind myself that an eternity awaits.  I find myself visiting the cemetery more often, finding comfort in the solace and presence of her grave.  I find myself fantasizing of those early years with her and imagining who she’d be today.  You will find endless drops of pure love descending down my cheeks at random moments, evidence of the hearts incredible strength and timeless devotion.

Much time is spent on wondering, fantasizing, and dreaming of those heavenly reunions- no pain, no sorrow, only pure joy and restoration. Talk about glory days! What a gift.

In the end, today is all we are ever really promised.  Remember, when fear knocks on your door, answer with faith.

On the journey with you~

P.S. Stay tuned. Lots of excitement brewing here and two special announcements coming this month!

 

 

Navigating Relationships Between Childhood Friendships and Grief

Childhood can be a tricky thing for growing little humans.  Finding where you fit in, figuring out your personality and who you want to be, how to act and learning what to say, can be challenging to say the least.  Add a bit of grief or struggle on top and a child’s world is compounded immensely.

Having four children sprinkled through elementary and middle school, this is something that has laid heavily on my heart lately as I have observed my children navigate through the tangled web of friendships in their schools.  

Finding the true definitions of a friend has been a challenge for them. They have experimented with learning lessons the hard way by hurt feelings, being excluded from games on the playgrounds, pushed down, being told to “leave, you’re not wanted here,” to “I’m not supposed to talk to you,” among many others.

It’s rough. All kidding aside, the last thing any parent wants is to have their child being treated terribly arriving home after school with tears in their eyes. It opens your heart to places you never felt, having these innocent beings reliant on you to provide comfort and understanding when you have none.

 Yes, it  tears at the tender heart deep down. I wish I could protect them from such pain.

No one wishes for their children to be ostracized by their peers.  Thankfully, my kids are resilient.  They are real, honest, kind-hearted and strong.  I am so proud of each and every one of them. 

Don’t get me wrong, they each have their moments of irresponsibility, speaking without thinking, or rudeness that needs corrected, among many other undesirable traits. Outnumbered, they’ve at times made me think I will never survive the four of them with all the joking, fighting, yelling and craziness my sweet darlings provide.  Yet despite it all, I can say I am truly proud of the individuals they are becoming.

I work extremely hard to try to instill the proper values in their expanding minds. So far, my monsters are well rounded, compassionate kids with big hearts, willing to help anyone out.  

They don’t care what anyone dresses like.  On any normal day, you will find my kiddos in hand me downs, prized apparel acquired at yard sales and thrift shops.  Their second-hand shoes and mismatched socks make them who they are.  Thankfully, they don’t pay attention to what people wear or feel inadequate to be lured into comparison.       

They don’t discriminate based on social hierarchy, popular status, or appearances.  They don’t bat an eye to unruly hair or tattered clothing and remain joyful non-materialistic little people.

In our family, we just don’t have time for that.  A quick glance will reveal my little people frequently covered in dirt wearing stained shirts with chocolate faces. To some they may look like they just rolled off the wagon train, and that’s okay. 

Through it all, they remain confident in who God made them to be.

Our children have visited homeless shelters on many occasions and have observed life on the other side of the fence.  It has humbled them, yet opened their hearts to see children who are just like them, ignoring the different lifestyles while engaging in laughs and play with other children as if they’d been friends for years.

They look forward to saying their prayers every night together, they know what real pain and sorrow feel like.

They don’t judge based on gossip or rumors.  They don’t bully others attempting to outcast others from their circle of friends, even though others may have done this to them. 

It’s is my hope that they will always reciprocate and never take advantage of others. They are not fake, pretending to be someone’s friend one day and then the next day not knowing who they are. 

Fancy new cars, name brand clothes, economic status or living in a fancy house doesn’t apply to them.  They can mingle and mix with the best of them, joining hearts with all kinds.

My children have bloomed into compassionate hearts that are the first to console a hurting friend or to lend an ear if someone is sad. They are proficient in seeing broken hearts, observing their parents sorrow and unending love for their sister in heaven.

And you’ll find that our house is not immaculate. Sure, we do the basic house work but have found there is so much more to life than stressing about weather all the toys are picked up, or the floors swept and mopped daily.

They may not look or act like they have it all together, but inside they are perfectly fit. The puzzle pieces of their soul are connecting at just the right moments, fertilizing that growing heart.

You see, our family has learned the hard way, what really matters in life.  Years ago, we didn’t realize the value of what we had until it was suddenly taken away from us.   We’ve reached the lowest of the lows together and are slowly crawling our way back out.   One day at a time, 8 years and counting.

Enduring my young daughter’s tragic death was a slap in the face to the life I was living.   One thing grief has taught me, from being at my lowest point in life, was to be humble.  I was humbled by the simplicity of this life, humbled by the blessings God has given me.  Contentment and gratitude rose to the forefront of my reality.  And it not only taught me, but my children as well.

Lately, the uneasy feeling of grief and friendships has hit my family pretty hard.   Hurt feelings from people you thought were friends, who turned out have never heard of the golden rule or believe it doesn’t to apply to them.  Observing my children question someone’s harsh words, not understanding this fleshly world we live in-I struggle to find words to offer as an explanation.

However, I can say that having your heart torn open and shattered beyond belief, makes you appreciate the life you have, fuels you to live it with a purpose and passion like never before. It’s crazy to think of how our family may not have understood these valuable lessons had our daughter not passed away.

We all need to experience frequent reality checks and to treat others with love and kindness. Most importantly, we need to remember that it doesn’t matter what others think-we are all  equal and unique in God’s eyes, made for a special purpose and nothing can ever change that.

So I leave you with this heartwarming quote from Proverbs 31 Ministries to ponder….