Little Stars Lost

August 7, 2012

Thank You

Filed under: Coping,loss of child — by rjw788898 @ 5:37 pm
Tags: , , , ,

For quite some time, I have avoided this blog.  I’m not sure when/if I’ll pick it back up.  Lately, though, several people have commented, sent private emails, and generally left lovely signs that the blog has been a help to them.  It is an honor to be able to help those of you who are suffering through this terrible loss.  In their deaths, my children have helped so many bereaved parents.  Their deaths have taken on that meaning.  Thank you all for allowing my children into your lives.
Please feel free to add this blog to any blogroll or list of resources for bereaved parents.  I hope you find comfort here.

January 20, 2009

Welcome to Little Stars Lost

Filed under: Uncategorized — by rjw788898 @ 4:55 am

I started this blog to honor the memory of my son Andy in the best way I know how– by using his death as a means to help others who are dealing with tragedy. Now, it will also become a memorial for my daughter Madeleine, who was stillborn on Dec. 27, 2010. My children will be a part of me forever.

In part, I hope to chronicle my own experience in coming to terms with grief and loss.  I’ve found it extremely helpful to find out how others ‘cope.’  I’ll also post helpful sites, reviews of books, and other bits of information focused both on the loss of a child and on grief in general.

Grief is both a shared and an isolated journey.  I hope this blog becomes a place where others who are grieving can find company and solace in the midst of even the darkest days.

January 20, 2013

Grief’s Peripheral Effects

We focus primarily on the mental/psychological effects of grief, but it can cause serious issues with physical health, as well.  We’re all too familiar with the headaches, insomnia, digestive problems, fatigue, etc associated with grief.  Here, however, I’d like to talk about peripheral effects– the bits of old problems that sneak up on us even years after we thought we’d put them away.

For me, the issue is bulimia.  I’m in the midst of a serious relapse, which comes many years after my successful treatment of the disorder.  At first, I didn’t connect this relapse with grief in any way.  Like most things in my life (good and bad), though, the connect became clear.  At this year’s TCF Candle Lighting, I didn’t not find a release.  The day is used specifically to honor children who have died.  It’s usually the one day each year that I allow myself to grieve unapologetically.  This year, however, I took on a more public role and lost my own emotions within that.

Eating disorders are often about control.  The connection comes in my block of emotions.  I couldn’t even direct those emotions, which made me feel like I had no control over my life whatsoever.  If I can’t even allow myself to grieve “properly,” afterall, what *can* I allow?  That is the thought process that led me into the relapse I’m currently trying to combat.  In their purest forms, eating disorders are addictions.  Recovering from this relapse will require much more than just working through the initial spark.

So this is my message to all of you who read this blog:  keep watch for old health issues that might catch you off guard.  If you’ve struggled with substance abuse or alcohol, keep watch on those addictions.  Look carefully for health problems you dealt with before your grief.  In the throes of loss, the very important symptoms of exacerbations or relapses of health problems you dealt with prior to your child’s death could lie hidden.  Please take care.

October 28, 2011

Distance

Filed under: Coping,grief,loss of child — by rjw788898 @ 12:20 pm

It’s hard to believe it has almost been six months since I’ve written here. I think that, after losing Maddie, I was afraid even thinking about focusing on grief would break what little bit of sanity I’ve held on to. Yet here I am, edging closer to the 5-year anniversary of Andy’s death and the 1-year anniversary of Maddie’s death. My mind continues to function, although I’m not quite sure how.

I do fully intend to attend a Worldwide Candle Lighting Ceremony this year, but it’s different. This year I will light two candles. Two beautiful children’s names will flash on the screen, and two beautiful little faces will decorate the memory tables. I’m not sure I can take dealing with two.

So that’s why I’ve been absent from the world of grief blogging. Dealing with the loss of both my children overcomes me when I try to look directly at it, with no filter in place.

May 24, 2011

Actions of Grief

Grief does funny things. It wrecks your world, destroys it completely and leaves you to make a new world out of the pieces. It tears out your heart and soul, replacing them with a tired and battle-scarred version of who you were. It kills you, and you reform like a phoenix. All because you have to.

Grief also joins you in love and friendship with others who have suffered great loss. It binds you to the other weary travelers on this journey not of your choosing. Although it can divide, it often draws you closer to the other loved ones in your life. Nothing replaces the person you lost, but others can help cushion the blow, as long as you let them. Again, because you have to.

Grief changes everything. You, as a grieving parent, have died too. You are not nor will you ever be the person you were before your child’s death. Even though it takes years to realize it, though, this new person can live the new life. Happiness is duller, and pain is sharper. However, as long as you are breathing you are surviving the worst you’ll ever face. On days when you feel too weak to carry on, keep that in mind.

You are the ultimate survivor. And you will remain so.

The heart stops briefly when someone dies, a quick pain as you hear the news, and someone passes from your outside life to inside. Slowly the heart adjusts to its new weight and slowly everything continues, sanely.
–American poet Ted Berrigan

May 9, 2011

Please Don’t…

Filed under: Coping,grief,loss of child — by rjw788898 @ 3:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This is something I wrote not long after Andy died. I thought it might resonate with some of you.

___________________________________

Please Don’t…
…tell me that you understand grief unless you’ve looked at your child’s lifeless body and felt your own heart taken into a grave. I’m sorry if you lost your parent, grandparent, random cousin, etc, but it is not the same. I’m sorry, too, that you have felt pain. And I am so happy that your perception of pain is much lower than mine. To me, pain is life. My child is gone, and I carry that loss with me every second of every day. I won’t “move past it” or “get over it.” I will attempt to live with it. Sometimes living merely means existing. I will attempt to live well, but you must understand that my world is confusing. In my world, “normal” has been replaced by a very strange reality that I just can’t come to grips with.

Please don’t make platitudes. They are worthless. I have no idea whether my son has gone to “a better place,” and frankly I find no comfort in that remark. His place is here, with me. Wherever he is, it’s not the best place for him. And he hasn’t passed on. He has died. Please stop telling me otherwise. It only makes me cling tighter to hope that I know isn’t there in the first place.

Don’t forget my son. He lived, even though he is gone now. Please don’t be afraid to say his name. I love talking about him. Even if it makes me cry, it still brightens my day. Andy lives in me, and I want to share him any way I can. Don’t be afraid to talk to me on Mother’s Day or on Andy’s birth and death days. They are hideous, painful days, but they are real. Pretending that they are not real merely makes me feel isolated. A child’s death shatters everything. I know that you might feel uncomfortable with me on those days, but please don’t treat me like a glass doll. I am much stronger than you think. After all, I am surviving my son’s death every day.

Please don’t take offense if I stare into space sometimes. You are not boring me, and I am not about to do something rash. I’m probably just thinking of my son, of his life and his death. The smallest thing can set off that train of thought. You must understand that I see him in everything. In the spring, I think what it would be like to see him splashing through puddles in little yellow rain boots. Every night I think about watching him sleep. Every morning, I think about waking up to his smile. When I stare into space, I’m merely situating myself in my memories. Andy still lives in that world.

Don’t take away my memories by banishing me or my son into some mythological netherworld. I spend a great deal of time trying to make others comfortable with my loss. They are well-intentioned, but when they bring up my son’s death, they find themselves unable to withstand the intensity of the situation. After a child has died, there are no rules. Please don’t feel that you have to bring up my son’s death, but don’t think that you have to avoid the topic in order to keep me from turning into a complete and utter mess. I’ve become very good at postponing that until the time is right.

Don’t be afraid of me or of my son’s memory. His death is not contagious. It eats away at my life and soul every day, but it will not take away your loved ones or create a permanent hole in your world. There are no words to express my gratitude to the people who can sit with me, even in the depths of my grief, and know that they will remain whole after our conversations have ended.

Above all, please don’t forget that I am a mother. That identity will always be a part of me, because my child will always be a part of me. I can’t touch him or hear his voice, but I carry his life and his death with me everywhere I go. Andy will always be my son, and I will always be his mother. Please understand that death cannot take away that role. A mother’s love for her child is too deep. The greatest comfort you can give to me is to remember my child and recognize that I am a mother still.

May 8, 2011

Blog Recommendation

Searching for resources to get me through the hell that is Mother’s Day, I stumbled upon the site Grieving Parent. This site is, as odd as it sounds, a breath of fresh air to me. Joe’s writings about his son and his grief are straightforward with an undertone of sarcasm, and they are spot on, at least for my experience as a grieving mother. I highly recommend checking out this site.

My deepest sympathies for your loss, Joe, and my deepest appreciation for sharing your experience.

March 14, 2011

Hiding

I’m still here. I’m just hiding from everything. Grief has affected me far more than I could afford to let happen. I’ve missed work, so finances have slipped a bit. I decided to take a break from school because my concentration is gone. Life seems a bit pointless right now. Even though I have days that I do consider good, my life is about grief right now. It is the very center of me. It tears through me when I least expect it and hides in the shadows of my brightest days. It is always there, ready to take over everything. These days, it usually does.

Thank you, to everyone, for your unfailing kindness and patience with me. You make life do-able, even when it seems it’s not worth going through.

January 27, 2011

One Month

Dear Maddie,

We lost you one month ago this morning. We miss you so much and wish with all our hearts that you were here. My arms have ached for you today, and I’ve felt hollow inside in the space where you should be. I still don’t quite know how to go on without you. I remember feeling you kick, seeing your little face on the ultrasound, and hearing your heart beat filling up the exam room. I still think sometimes that I feel you moving around in there. Remember the day I wore a very loose dress? I thought you’d invited friends over! Now, one month later, the stillness inside me is suffocating. I miss you every second of every day.

Have you found your brother wherever you are? I try to have faith that the two of you are safe and happy. Can you see me? I worry sometimes that you feel grief just as I do. Is there a way that you can see me and not feel sad? I really hope you can. The selfish part of me wants to know for certain that you and Andy are together watching me and all of us who still love you so much. The protector in me knows that, if seeing me makes you sad, I’d rather you be completely oblivious. Actually, I’d rather you were here. Both of you. My beautiful children, people tell me I just have to have faith that you are safe. What those people think I can place my faith in is beyond me, though.

My sweet baby, I wish I could feel you still. I wish I had more than just a sense of your presence. I wish so, so much that you were tucked safely inside of me again, waiting for that day when you would make your appearance. We were looking forward to hearing your cries, feeling those warm little fingers, and watching you grow. Now, all we can do is look at the box that holds your ashes and dream about who you could have been. Please be well and happy wherever you are.

All my love,

Mommy

January 15, 2011

Confusion

I’m so confused right now that it’s hard to piece together a complete sentence. I’ve been staring at this screen far longer that I’d like to admit. My attention span is about an hour. Anything more than that, and I get completely overwhelmed. All I know is that the world has become a painful, black nothingness.

There’s a great deal of anger, too. In part, I want to ask the world how dare it go on now that my children are dead. Well meaning friends keep urging me to move on, and others are trying to placate me by telling me about the loss of their grandmother or something like that. I understand that all loss is painful, but unless the person talking has lost a child, they do not, in any sense of the word, have the right to tell me about loss. A friend who is always telling me she’ll be there for me texted a couple of days ago to apologize for not being there for me. It’s a pattern with her. That, too, made me so angry. I don’t have time for the trivial problems of others. My children are dead. What on earth could be more important than that? I want to scream at the people who think my life should be moving forward right at this moment. Moving forward means stepping out of my world and into the world where my children no longer exist. They are still the very center of my world. Why would I want to leave it? My mind is a giant blur of anger and sadness. I’m thankful for even the slightest bit of shock and numbness to take off the edge. I want to sleep for hours, but I can barely sleep for minutes. I just want everything to stop for a while. Give me more than two weeks to work through this, or whatever the “moving on” phrase is for this loss. I know I need to re-find my place in the world, but right now, I just don’t want to.

January 6, 2011

To My Daughter

Filed under: grief,loss of child — by rjw788898 @ 11:21 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Dear Maddie,
I love you so much, and I would give anything to hold you in my arms. Even though you’ll never get the chance to smile, I’ve seen your smile a thousand times. I’ve heard your baby giggle, watched you take your first glimpse at this world, and felt the warmth of you growing heavier as you fell asleep in my arms. I lived these things over and over in our brief time together. I imagined you as a toddler. M and I were in awe simply thinking of you as a teenager.

We’ll never get to see or know these things about you. One thing I’m sure of, though, is that you were meant to be in our lives. I’ll never understand why you danced through our lives so quickly, but you gave us such hopes and dreams. You brought so much happiness as we imagined our lives with you as part of them. T, who would have been like a grandmother to you, already had you decked out in princess gear. M was already thinking about the fun you would have had. And I was dreaming of all the possibilities that would have been laid out before you. You definitely would have been a star in our lives.

Now, as I tell you goodbye before I get a chance to tell you hello, I want you to know how proud I am of you for the difference you made and the dreams you inspired. We love you so much and hope that you are surrounded by happiness and peace. My beautiful daughter, I miss the child you would have become, the teen who would have brought both grey hair and laughter, and the strong, courageous woman you would surely have grown up to be. I miss the very thought of you.

Now there’s nothing left to say except goodbye, my beautiful baby girl. You will always be a part of me, and no matter what variety of time and space separates us, a part of me will be there to guide and protect you. We will be bonded by the love that can only be shared between a mother and a daughter, and you will always be the beautiful little star who twinkled so briefly in our lives but changed them forever.

All my love, dear child, is with you.

Love, Mommy

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