Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A busy weekend

We had a lot to do this weekend.
It all started with the games, Jv and varsity football and volleyball games on Friday. Then we went straight to Panama City where Paige made this awesome cake for Aaron (actually for his soon to be wife, Lydia! Very soon!).
Saturday we were outside all day. The children playing in the woods and eating (probably too much..but who's talking about that? I had two nice pieces of Paige's delicious cake!). A few of us played volleyball for a couple of hours, then the guys played football while I played with my camera!
Sunday found us at church where a really cute little boy decided to sit by me for morning services, and another one for evening services. And you know kids love taking pictures, especially of themselves! (:
Monday we were off to get Paige's license (YAY!) and then to vote before heading back towards home to another volleyball game. Where afterwards it has become a tradition for all of us to get a frappe before heading home.
All in all it was a fun weekend even if it was pretty busy! In between all of that the kids enjoyed visiting Grandma too (and the general spoiling that goes with such). (:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Art day

I found this fall art project on Pinterest and knew we had to do it! It was so fun creating with the boys! I can't wait to try more and neither can they!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The rule book

 "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear"

                                                Grief is consuming.
It holds the rule book, and if you care to read it you will see there are no breaking the rules of grief. The rules you have known all of your life cease to apply. There are new rules.
1. You will live by these rules the remainder of your life. Just when you think you will be able to break these rules, grief will show you the truth.
2. Grief will be the only thing you feel for a while. Hunger is gone, being tired is gone, wanting to be awake is finished. Any feeling you think you have is only allowed as it relates to grief.
3. Grief will rule your thoughts for quite some time. You may try to think of other "normal" things, but grief will rein. Pick up a book to read, all of the sudden the pages are blank. If someone wants to hold a conversation...the grief is there demanding it's proper attention. 
4. Grief will rule your actions. Just try to go to the's not "normal" anymore. There will be some mother decidedly rude to her small child, now instead of being disgusted with her you feel an overwhelming nausea rise up and it can't always be held back. Don't even let someone ask how many children you have, there's no responding to that one for a while. Or the polite, "have a nice day" is met with immediate thoughts of "NICE? There's nothing nice about losing a child. Burying a child, or actually never even being able to see my child before they were gone!" You may even try to nod and hoping the tears won't spill over behind the sunglasses before you can leave. Sometimes you make it through the store, sometimes the list is forsaken for another time.
5. Grief changes your life. When in doubt, give it a few days and you will realize it still rules.

It has been years, people who meet me never know I've lost a child. It's not something I hide, my children do not hide it. It is just not always as close to the surface as before. As we were sitting around having a "normal" day with some mom reaches over and kisses the palm of her child's hand. Her child is the same age Boaz would be. Tears spill out before I can turn away. Grief fresh and anew...I hold back sobs as I fight thinking...WHEN will this be easier. And the answer is whispered to me again..."I am grief, I have changed all of the rules. Go back and read the book!"

It was a few days since Boaz had passed away, maybe it was a few was all the same to me. I was still having a hard time breathing. I loved to read, it's relaxing, but now I cannot even see words on the page, it is all white. I know the words are there, but my eyes can not see them. My ears...they don't hear normal sounds, things are fuzzy...  You are talking but I'm not hearing, you think I'm not listening on purpose. You think, she won't pay attention, she doesn't want to do anything but think about what happened to her, like no one else has had a loss before her. She's going to drown in her grief, and she wants to. Believe me, grief seems much like drowning in an emotional sense. The feeling of suffocating, there's no air, I can't see clearly...
Or maybe that's not it. Now I can see so clearly. I can see what is so important. I can see that most of what people talk about is so trivial compared with what is really important. My son died, I'm not concerned about trivial things... Like where should we go out to eat or did I hurt your fragile feelings. My son died, I don't care if your dog ran away. I may seem rude or  indifferent, but I have learned the rules have all changed.  Nothing matters that might have mattered before, life has been brought sharply into focus.
It amazed me how many people (who had never lost a child) knew how I should be acting, how much or little I should cry, or sleep, and when I should be doing either. And the most surprising people understood enough to know they had no idea, they accepted what I felt was normal, as we're my actions.
I had "close" friends quit contacting me. Maybe they lacked the words, maybe they grew tired of my missing. Maybe they didn't understand the new rule book.

In the beginning I though I was alone in these thoughts. I didn't know the new rule book was for every parent who lost. Even other people who have experienced a different loss may feel some of these things to an extent. Someone said something that helped me in the beginning. I was having a hard time with being "fine" one moment (understand this is a new fine, don't forget the new rule book) and the grief overtaking me within the next few moments. She (had lost her mother) said the grief comes in like waves. As I thought back to that I remember as a small child going to the beach and wading out until the ocean was up to my chest. As the waves would roll in we would "jump" them sometimes diving into them. Inevitably we would get out a little further and the waves would roll in too quickly. We would barely have time to get a breath before the next wave came crashing across pushing us under and leaving is gasping for air. We would get a little closer to land where we could touch better thinking it would be easier, only to see the waves growing larger and crashing over our heads. Eventually we learned to roll with the waves, accept them as they came, but it didn't change the waves...and we still gasped for air. This is grief...coming in like the sea waves roll. Sometimes all seems calm and breathing is think you've got a handle on things. Then life whispers.."the rule book" as the wave comes crashing in.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

If You Really Want To Know

     Since the loss of my son I have had many people try to "make things better" by giving me their theology, "kind" words, and sometimes just not realizing they didn't need to say anything. After talking to many other child/baby loss parents I realized that I wasn't alone in this problem. So, this is for anyone who ever wants to be a real blessing to other parents who will lose a baby/child.
I never have blamed my God for "taking" my Boaz. Could he have prevented it, yes I definitely believe that. Am I mad because he didn't? If I was I would have to be mad about a few other things too.
When God created us he gave us a free will to chose to do what we want. Right or wrong, helpful or hurtful. Over several thousands of years we have been making these choices, resulting in some problems on this earth. Pollution, poor eating r exercise habits, even "conveniences" such as microwaves and cars present a problem. How can we after generation after generation of such expect God to keep our bodies (or our children's) perfectly healthy when we have been using our own free will to ruin His creation since time began? We cannot have God's complete protection AND have our own will also, the two are incompatible! Is my God unmerciful because he doesn't override the evil in this world to prove to us He can? NO! Why did God give us a will of our own in the first place? Because he desires our fellowship, not because we have to, but because we also desire His fellowship. He gave us a free will so that he could have the pleasure of us choosing Him when we didn't have to.
Then there is the question that has been posed to me before...Why did Boaz have to die? He has "good" loving parents that take good care of him, yet there are children with horrible parents and they get to keep their babies. I agree in our human minds that's a hard one to swallow. I loved my son, I did everything I could for him. And I'd have done anything to keep him. But I never felt like I "deserved" to keep him while someone else didn't. Don't mistake that for the thought that I'm okay with it. I guess it's possible for someone to bury their true feelings so deeply that you may not realize they miss their child. But I have never met anyone at all who did not miss their child and long to have them back. In fact normally if I met someone and it has been 15+ years the only way for me to know is if they tell me. The way they talk about missing their child is so vivid and the grief is so strong that it seems it must have been recent, and I am learning that's the way grief is.
If you want to help someone who has lost a child there are some things you shouldn't do:
1. Never, ever tell them you know how they feel if you haven't lost a child, because I promise you have absolutely NO idea what they are going through. It doesn't matter if you've lost your parent, sibling, or best friend. You do NOT know how they feel.
2. Do not tell them they didn't "lose" their child because after all their child is in Heaven and if you know where something's at it isn't lost. They are having a hard time breathing at the moment! If you care then understand that you can not understand.
3. Do not decide how they should grieve. Not how deeply, or how long, or how publicly. It has been three years since my boy passed.... The other night as my boys were kissing me goodnight (at least the youngest ones) as the youngest  left I felt an intense sense of missing...there should've been one more running in to kiss me, giggling as he did, and saying, "I love you too mommy"..but there wasn't. My soul ached and my eyes teared up. My arms never get that privilege again. I could see his shining eyes and infectious smile as he would have hugged me..and his beautiful blond hair and bouncy tripping step as he raced out after the others. But it will not be...
I am not depressed, I am mourning. Mourning the loss of my child's life, hopes & dreams, events and milestones we would have shared. 

4. Do not tell me "at least you still have __ children". I personally have seven children living. When Boaz first passed my house was SO empty! I let the children have friends over all of the time just as I always had, but that house was still too empty. It doesn't matter what you think, it matters how I feel. You can't know, your children are still alive.
5. Do not tell me it will get better. If the grief is fresh then believe me I do not want it to get better. If its been a little while I have realized it probably isn't going to get better.  But since you have never been there, chances are you have no idea what "better" means in this situation.

We know you're just trying to help, but take it from someone who's been there, it's not helpful. It only makes us see you in a different light...uncompassionate. Even an animal can sense when to have compassion, so when people don't it isn't that they don't know how, it's more of they won't.  We can see that it takes too much effort and you know SO much that you've lost the ability. Compassion is not puffed up. It's okay with us if you don't understand how we feel or if you don't have the right words to say. Just listening is sometimes a blessed thing.

Still if you have lost a child and do not feel this way, understand that everyone grieves differently and that's okay. Some of you are grieving your pet you had to put down a month ago, forgive me if I don't see the comparison.  People are complex, grieving can not be defined in your textbook, it's not four easy's a lifetime process. I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Every day there is something vital missing from my day. At every event there is one person missing out...and that missing is felt deeply by all of us. Every once in a while while we are doing something special one of the boys will remark, "Boaz would have liked that" or "Boaz would have laughed his head off". It hurts that they are missing him too, but it is so nice to know they remember him...that is comforting and I smile as the tears form in my eyes.

If you truly want to be a friend and want to help there are a few things you can do.
1. Listen without judging. Let them talk about their child, even if they only carried the child in their womb they had hopes and dreams for their child. Their feelings are real and normal.
2. Offer to do things for them, or just do something for them without asking. Take their other children for a few hours. Cook dinner and drop it by. Wash their clothes.
3. If you want to have a better idea of how they feel and what they are going through get a few books written by people who have lost a child and read them. Find a few blogs written by parents who have lost children and read them starting a little before they lost their child to present. 

4. If they chose to confide in you and tell you how they feel, keep it to yourself. If they didn't broadcast it chances are they didn't want to. Realize they felt intimate enough with you to bear their heart. Respect that and realize it is a thing to be valued. 
5. Realize that you understanding their grief is not what is needed to validate their feelings. Their feelings are valid, however off they seem to you.

I realize occasionally people quit living when their child dies. Quit judging every child loss  parent by this. Realize it's not your job to correct them. If you want to continue to be a friend...refer to the above article.


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