Thursday, January 24, 2013

the bitter truth

We all have moments that are up, and moments that are down.  No one's life is truly any "better" than anyone else's, it's just that we don't cycle on the same timeline, so sometimes when we are down, others are up, and vice versa. 

The truth is that everyone struggles.  And right now, I am struggling....battling even.

I am finding myself at the hard place where it feels like I don't fit in anywhere.  I am no longer who I was, and I can't quite figure out where I belong. 

If I were a puzzle piece, I would probably be one of those ones that you've spilled something on.  My puzzle piece has become smudged, warped.  Or maybe my puzzle piece is one that the dog has chewed the edge of.  No matter which one you pick, I can't seem to figure out how or where I fit.  I keep turning myself around and around trying to make myself fit back into my space that seems wrong.  My puzzle piece has changed, but I can't seem to figure out how to fix it.  I've thought about trying to trim the edges with scissors, or even take a hammer and puond myself into place.

I can't see where I fit.  I feel completely lost.

You see, I gave birth to a wonderful daughter.  She was a part of our life for 28 months (8 in womb and 20 out of womb), and now, physically, she is gone.  She was our only child, so by appearance, it looks as though my husband and I have no children. 

So, when I am with friends who have not had children I cannot fully relate to their lives, because I did in fact have a child, though she isn't physically seen.  And on the flip side, when I am with friends who have children, I cannot fully relate to their lives, because my child isn't physically here.

I am in this odd sort of limbo-like state.  I know I belong, and I know I fit in, but I am trying so hard to figure it out that I end up feeling isolated instead of comforted or protected.

There are plenty of people who deeply care about me and love me.  They hurt to see me hurting.  They want to help me.  They want to make me better.  They would do anything to ease my pain.  They would fix me if they could.  They think I am strong as I go through all of this....but the bitter truth is that I am falling apart. 

I struggle to get out of bed in the morning.  I still find glimpses of good things, but they are only momentary.  My view is fogged over, and I'm stuck in this dark, hard place.  There is no magic fix - believe me, I've looked. 

There is nothing I can do on my own right now to make me better, so I am trying to seek help from others.  Essentially, I'm wandering in the fog with my arms outstretched, and when I come into contact with someone, anyone, I grab them to me and try to explain what I need.  I don't really know what I need...

So here it is in plain language....I'm 16 months into my bereavement, and I'm struggling with major depression.  I can no longer take care of myself, so I am seeking help from my therapist.  I am happy to report that we have figured out a plan to help me get the care that I need. 

I am greatly looking forward to moving out of the fog.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Random Ramblings (from Jan. 2012)

Posted on Facebook on Friday, January 20, 2012:

So I attended a TCF meeting last night and one of the questions asked of our group of grieving parents, siblings and grandparents was:  has anyone told you 'it's time to move on, and how did you handle it?'

So here are my thoughts:  WHAT!?!  'It's time to move on?' 

Um, NO.  That is not even acceptable. No one in this world has the right to dictate to people around them HOW to handle their grief or the TIMELINE in which it should be taken care of. 

I'm only 4.5 months into grieving the loss of Catelyn and can clearly see that losing a child is something that will haunt you the entire rest of your life. 

It's not something you just 'get over', EVER.

You see, you had this child, and felt like it was your responsibility to raise them and take care of them and make sure they stayed safe.  Now they are gone (and it doesn't matter how long), and everything you do and see and say and feel reminds you of them, PERIOD. 

You find yourself thinking 'my child would've loved this', 'wouldn't it be great if my child was here to see this', 'my child loved ________'.  There is simply no 'getting over it' or 'moving on'. 

Every moment from the day of their death or the moments leading up to it will haunt you for the rest of your life.  Your mind is on constant re-wind and re-play looking for the answer that would've changed everything.  The worst part is that you can never go back and 'fix' it.

I'm sure it seems well-intentioned to think 'isn't it time to move on' on the exterior, but let's face it, that is NOT HELPFUL.

Life will never be the same again after losing a child.  All bereaved parents are doing the best that they can to rebuild their lives after they have lost a child. 

Nothing can make it 'right' again.

And, while that child isn't there physically, they will ALWAYS be a part of every moment: in spirit, in heart and in mind.

My Un-Apology (from Dec. 2011)

My Facebook post from Thursday, December 29, 2011 (only changes: names removed):

Do you remember those 'everything I learned I learned from _____' posters?   Well, this is sort of along those lines, but at the same time, it's not.  I guess I feel that I am as good of a person as any to write a statement on grief because I've encountered my own somewhat recently.

What I have learned from this grieving process is that no two people grieve or even think or feel in general the same way about things.  When it comes to grief, people have to do what feels right to them.

Some people wish to cry, some wish to scream, some can't even bring themselves to feel or do anything, some want to talk, and some want nothing more than to be left alone.  Some people can't even stand the thought of eating, and some people eat everything in site just because it brings temporary relief.  Some people stand up for what they believe in, some fall down.  Some rely fully on the people around them to bring them strength, and some think they can do it all on their own.  Some will light candles, bake or cook or eat, write books or songs or poems, draw pictures, create gardens, plant trees, cry, purchase gifts, give donations or even release balloons in honor of others, and some may do nothing because they aren't sure what to feel, think or do.

No matter what people wish to do, feel, or think, they are choosing what is right for them.  People who are grieving are doing the best they can.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  People are doing what feels right to themselves in an effort to get through.

Recently, my husband and I have offered that people, who wish to, could release balloons on 12/30 in rememberance/recognition of Catelyn on her birthday.  Some people feel that this is a nightmare - ecologically speaking.  All I can say is that if it doesn't feel right to you, then don't do it.  If you'd like to light a candle, have a birthday meal or a birthday cake or a birthday cupcake or even a cookie, make a donation of some type to some place, do nothing, cry, scream, cheer, sing, or anything else you can think of, then do that.   Our idea to release balloons isn't about doing ONE thing, or even ANY thing, but if you feel like you want to do SOME thing, then pick and do what is right for you.

A different but "Merry" Christmas (from Dec. 2011)

This was a post (altered only by removing names) from facebook written on 12/5/2011:

 This year, I don't really feel like 'celebrating' Christmas.  I haven't purchased one gift, and I absolutely DO NOT want anything for myself.
     I haven't sent any Christmas Cards (though I did make quite a few with my Stampin' Up! friends), and I have no plans to write up a cutesy holiday letter.
     Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas - I love the lights, giving gifts, singing carols, baking, being invited places, spending time with friends and family, hearing from loved ones, and of course decorating.
      I have been listening to the 24-7 Christmas song stations, and I've even gone out to see a holiday parade filled with lighted floats and more!  At most, I might put up a teeny-tiny tree in Catelyn's room, and I have her stocking available to put a note in to tell her how much I miss her and love her.  I've decided to 'gift' her presents, that I had already started purchasing in the summer, to an organization that takes in items for children (haven't decided which one yet, though).
     Many, many friends and family members have wanted to do something for my husband and I, and we greatly appreciate that.  The best thing that I can come up with is donate your time or funds to people in need.  Get involved somehow, and if there is a "in honor of" option on what you do, please consider doing it on behalf of Catelyn.

Some ideas of places to donate to:
Whatever you choose to do, I hope that your Christmas is extra merry this year!

2010 First Christmas - at Grandma and Grandpa's

2010 First Christmas - at Great Grandma & Great Grandpa's

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

the importance of giving

Today is officially the first day of 2013 (at least in my time zone), and I want to take a second and share about Catelyn's birthday, which was 2 days ago.

As you may know, my husband and I requested that family and friends let us know about ways that they are remembering Catelyn through giving to others.  We sent out our request through the blog & facebook about ten days before Catelyn's birthday.  I was pretty slow in sending out emails to family & friends, but managed to get the word out a couple of days (at best) before her birthday.

On December 30th, we were surprised to see that we had received just over 35 emails from people telling us of the good things they did in Catelyn's honor.  What a gift within itself!!

As began reading the messages, it quickly became clear that our request, of loved ones and strangers, to help us find joy during such a hard time had a bigger impact than we realized.

Numerous people mentioned that our request of giving to others actually gave them an unexpected gift within itself.  I felt one person put it best when they said:  "By giving love we receive love which makes everyone feel good."

Every message we received was so incredibly touching, and each gift immeasurable.  Here is an idea of the gifts we were notified of: 
  • New or gently used items have been given, sometimes completely anonymously, and even when the giver's own funds were stretched, including:
    • books
    • toys
    • crayons
    • clothing (lots of clothing)
    • bicycles
    • quilts, afghans, & blankets
    • luggage (for children who are in the foster system so they don't have to carry their belongings in garbage bags)
    • get well packages (for children in the hospital)
    • plants
    • shopping carts at stores that require you to 'rent' them while you use them
    • ornaments (to a mother who recently survived an accident that her children did not)
    • varying gifts to those who might not receive them otherwise
  • Financial support has been given to various causes including 
    • struggling family members
    • The Histiocytosis Foundation
    • Project Linus
    • Salvation Army
    • Toys for Tots
    • youth group mission trips
    • animal shelters
    • animal surgeries
  • Technology for educational care/support was given to a teenager struggling with illness that requires multiple surgeries which would prevent her from attending school in the traditional way
  • Driveways were shoveled for elderly
  • Elders were visited
  • Perspectives were changed
  • Resentments were cast aside
  • Random Acts of Kindness are being offered including:
    • smiles
    • hugs
    • kind gestures
    • kind words
    • holding doors
    • generous tips to waitstaff
    • purposeful consideration (for illness, worry, sadness, loneliness, kindness, and so many, many reasons)
    • prayers
    • positive thoughts
    • Kleenex
    • memories
    • transportation
    • meals/donuts/cookies/baked goods/beverages
    • seeking out the owner of a cell phone that was found in a slushy parking lot just days before Christmas
    • Letters and Cards sent to the ill, elderly, & struggling
  • One family adopted Catelyn's spirit by naming their Child's doll after her, so Catelyn can go on adventures with their family
  • Other drivers were given extra consideration in high traffic zones
  • Grieving siblings (younger and older) and parents were recognized in special ways
  • The Christmas Angel Tree gift program was reinstated at an organization, led by a grieving mother, in honor of all Angels taken too soon
  • Candles lit
  • Volunteering of time/talents has occurred
  • Blood drives have been attended
  • Some relationships have been mended

I've tried to give a good picture of all of the messages we've received, and I'm sure things have been left out.  Needless to say, we were wonderfully overwhelmed by all of the messages we received.

What a gift we've been given, and it sounds like many of you who have participated have experienced the same feelings.

We are grateful beyond words.

It's hard to feel anything but some joy as we read such wonderful messages.  Thank you for easing the pain on what could've been a much harder day.

Each of you is a blessing.