"Because life is fragile and death inevitable, we must make the most of each day."
President Thomas S. Monson

Saturday, December 15, 2012

RAOK: After Tragedy Spread JOY!

Yesterday's events when 20 people were killed at a school in Connecticut, and 22 children were stabbed in China, well they really hit me.  I can absorb and feel all of the pain for those families.  I know personally HOW they will feel for the rest of their lives, I am just 5 years ahead of them. 

It affected me as it did many other people.  I just can't comprehend why anyone would ever feel it was a good choice to take their own life, let alone anyone else's life, and unimaginably multiple persons' lives.  I cannot wrap my head around why or how someone gets to THAT point.

Thinking about these events really eats at me and brings me down.  Reading them in my Facebook news feed just destroyed my day, as sadness seems to spread like wildfire, and far easier than happiness does.  (this following one of the most amazing experiences of my life in the wee hours that very same morning)

So today a friend suggested we all do nice things for others to bring Joy back today and to heal some of the pain every one of us is feeling.  So I decided to start the day with RAOK.

Our family got dressed and went out.  The first thing we did was to tell our server at Denny's that we planned on paying for someone else's order.  Her manager and her carefully and respectfully chose a family with a new baby, and we picked up their tab.  Leaving a MISS RAOK card behind, so they knew about our daughter, and why we specifically chose today as a day to do this.  We felt the blessings and Joy as we left the restaurant.

Well time was running out.  Because you know, we are moving, and I am HUGE procrastinator, so we decided to just randomly choose to pay for people's drinks/food at Maverick.  One by one, as we felt it, we jumped in front of people and paid their tab.  Some noticed right away and were grateful.  Others were shocked, still trying to pay for their own things, confused, and then they quizzically thanked us.

The last person was buying Cheetos.  I couldn't help but think, if Amberlee was with us, I would be sharing those with her this weekend, as they are my favorite.  So I jumped in front and paid for this sweet girls Cheetos.

As we entered our home, I felt the rush, and I felt the adrenaline of having done so many fun acts of kindness for others.  But most of all I feel JOY.  The pain of yesterday is sufficed for a moment.  If only it were so easy to help those families that lost their babies and family members, unimaginably, yesterday.  I am certain they woke up this morning wondering if it was a dream, and wondering if waking up on this busy holiday day, everything might have stopped and paused for them to try to grip their reality.  But the world doesn't stop. 

We may have all paused and we may have a constant prayer in our heart for all of those families.  I hope they know that their babies are hugging them, even if they cannot see them.  I hope they can find their way back to JOY and one day, share in the joy and blessings that will come from the worst day of their lives.  I know that will be a long time from now, but it is my prayer that they find their way to happiness, on their own time.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Milestone: NOT Starting Kindergarten

Today Amberlee would have started Kindergarten.  I tried to avoid thinking about it while buying school supplies and clothes, and through it all I suppressed my feelings.  Then, at 7:06 am I looked at the clock, realized what today is, and I started bawling.

It is challenging having other children so excited about starting School, and I want to give them my energy, but today I couldn't because deep down I feel robbed.  I kept crying in my room and trying to hide it from the kids.  When they asked why I was crying, I said I'm not, my eyes were tearing because I am sick.  I probably shouldn't lie to them, but this is an exciting day for them, and I really don't want to take that away.

This morning seemed to become sadder and more depressing as we got ready for school.  I took the girls school pictures, w/o my angel in them (tears).  I did their hair, but not Amberlee's.  They all packed their bags, and she didn't.  Then something changed, and sadness turned somewhat happy.  As we were walking down the stairs to the car I noticed a rainbow in the most random of places.  It was reflected onto our stair rail...as if Amberlee was there with us when we left for school.

The miracles did not stop there.  Somehow I mustered the strength to keep it together most the way to school.  (HUGE miracle).  I did cry a little at Emma & Lindee's school, but they didn't notice.  As we pulled up to the school Amberlee would be starting at, Kyle's Brother and his wife were getting out of their car.  Their son is in the same class as Camille this year.  I waved them over, and I realized they might not quite understand why, but Kevin came over.  He understood right away, and he and Denise took Camille into her classroom.  CRISIS AVERTED.

I cannot express how grateful I am that they were right there at that exact moment to shield me from the pain and embarrassment of flowing tears on the first day of school.  I didn't want to explain to people.  I didn't want them to wonder.  It all went smoothly.  Miracle.

So I am sitting here listening to music and crying and typing.  Mostly avoiding life.  I long for my daughter to be here and to have started school today.  I can't imagine how she would look and I think that is the most difficult part.  I can't imagine the excitement I would feel for her, because I just don't want it to hurt thinking about all that I am missing.

I am so grateful that milestones don't come around very often at this point.  This is a huge milestone though.  The best comfort I have is that wherever Amberlee is right now, I am certain she knows more than I could ever learn in this life.  I am excited for her to teach me WHY one day.  For now, I just need to Let it be.  But if I cry a few tears along the way, I think that's ok; because my child is dead and I am spending a lifetime without knowing who she would be.  It's a LONGing that I could never explain to someone that hasn't experienced this type of pain.

My angel is with me everyday.  I see her in my children's laughter, and I feel her on every single car ride and family vacation.  I often ask the kids, is someone missing, and then I realize; ALWAYS.  I think overall, I do a pretty good job of LIVING despite the trials I face as a bereaved parent.  But today, I just want to cry.

Friday, June 29, 2012

101 Lessons Learned: 5th Anniversary since Amberlee's Death

1.       1.  The world goes on and wants you to forget.
2.       2,  You won’t forget and at moments you won’t move on.
3.       3.  I’ve learned what a TRUE friend is.
4.       4.  People don’t want me to speak about my dead daughter.
5.       5.  Amberlee is forever my daughter.
6.       6.  One’s minimal uncomfortability with hearing about my dead daughter is about 1,000,000,000th less painful    than me living with it- so I don’t mind sharing her.
7.      7.   The best people I know, know true compassion and show it with their hearts, empathy.
8.       8.  The very best people I know have also lost a child and see the world differently.  We call them MISSisters.
9.       9.  No matter how your child dies you feel guilt.
10.   10.  I believe in angels.
11.   11.  I’ve felt my daughter’s spirit, it’s sacred, and I don’t always share those memories.
12.   12.  People who lose a child often see a symbol associated with their child that frequents them and comforts them.
13.   13.  Our symbol is a rainbow.  The first year after Amberlee’s death we saw rainbows every time our family was together.
14.  14.   Losing a baby changes your life, just like the commercials say, having a baby changes your life.
15.   15.  I no longer fear death.
16.   16.  I no longer care what other people think, at least not all of the time, I am human after all.
17.   17.  There is an actual physical response to death that makes eating physically impossible.
18.   18.  No matter how much you cry- you won’t run out of tears.
19.   19.  I have a love/hate relationship with Cemeteries.
20.   20.  I don’t know what I want you to do.  I just want you to do it, and take away some of the pain.
21.   21.  Children’s Hospitals are filled with angels.  http://www.phoenixchildrens.com/
22.   22.  Rainbow Baby: a child born to a parent that has lost a child.
23.   23.  Rainbow babies have amazing spirits and hearts.
24.   24.  Children move forward from death faster than adults.
25.   25.  Music is the best healer of all.
26.   26.  Memories fade but I can still smell and feel Amberlee.
27.   27.  Contrary to my desires (after she died) the sun will rise again.
28.   28.  ***Losing a child is not a marriage death sentence.
29.   29.  Blessings happen after losing a child.  Those blessing more than make up for the pain one feels.
30.   30.  Video graphic recall of my child’s death plays back in perfect detail in my mind- this forces me to re-live those events.
31.  31.   I don’t want to recall those events; I try to stop them immediately.
33.  33.   Having another child does not and cannot replace my lost child.  NOR was that our intention.
34.   34.  I am not immune to losing another child and that fear is worsened now.
35.   35.  Flowers are beautiful.
36.   36.  Nature is an amazing gift.
37.   37.  Funeral directors, funeral florist, etc. have incredible knowledge and heart to do what they do.
38.   38.  Cemetery sales people are liken to the DEVIL especially if they work for “Dignity”. http://www.dignitymemorial.com/dm20/en_US/main/dm/index.page
39.  39.  ***Always CHECK EVERY CAR!!!!
40.   40.   MISS foundation is the most important tool to helping families live through grief.  DONATE TO THEM, please; and save a family’s life.  http://www.missfoundation.org/
41.   41.   You can bury your child with a teddy bear.
42.   42.  Many, Many, Many, people lose children to death.  Sincerely comfort them and help them through.  Comfort with your heart not your head.
43.   43.  I have heard/felt/ and even SEEN Jesus.
44.   44.  Family is more important than the rest of life.
45.   45.  The Mormon Temple’s are filled with angels.
46.   46.  Blogging heals a soul, and so does journaling, they are the same.
47.   47.  It’s not comforting when someone says, at least you have other children, and you need to care for them.  SERIOUSLY!?!?!?
48.   48.  Volunteering brings more joy especially when sacrifice is involved.
49.   49.  There are volunteer photographers all over the country that will create a special moment to remember your child if he/she is dying or dead.  They use both pictures and video.  You can also Donate to them.  http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/
50.  50.   You won’t initially want those pictures, but later they will be an irreplaceable treasure.
51.   51.  Nobody can comfort a bereaved parent more than another bereaved parent.
52.   52.  There is no word for a parent that loses a child.
53.   53.  One day you will want the sun to shine again.
54.   54.  For the first year a mother remembers the dates (birth & death) monthly, after that EVERY YEAR.
55.   55.  All of those “things” you had for your baby don’t magically disappear when he/she dies.
56.   56.  You get six weeks off work for the birth of your child but only 10 days for the death of your child.  Please vote to change this.  http://www.fmlainsights.com/legislation/fmla-bereavement-act-would-provide-leave-upon-death-of-a-child/
57.  57.   The grief returns fiercely and forces tears at the slightest trigger.
58.  58.  A rainbow baby heals some of the open wounds.
59.  59.  SMILE: especially in pictures.  They are your memories.
60.  60.   LOVE: with all you have.
61.  61.  CARE: for everyone.
62.  62.  CRY: if you feel it when it comes, you will be much better off later.
63.  63.If your friend is in bed crying and you climb in and cry with her, that does not make you a lesbian, it is a deep expression of love that she will remember forever.
64.  64.   Rainbows are miracles.
65.  65.  You have to appreciate your family, you never know when/what can happen to them.
66.  66.  The things the world tells you are important, simply are NOT.
67.  67.   Money doesn’t solve everything, or anything really, all it does is pay bills.
68.  68.  ***NEVER JUDGE:  you don’t know their story.
69.  69.   News is filled with lies & deceit.  Don’t base your decisions on media/news.
70.  70.  Patience and persuasion are more effective than yelling and screaming.
71.  71.   Be aware of what your family is doing.  Stay close to keep them safe.
72.  72.  You have two sets of friends; those that understand, and those that do not.  And that is o.k..
73.  73.  Fathers feel just as much pain as mothers after losing a child.
74.  74.  Grandparents and family hurt too.
75.  75.  Friends can also suffer from your child’s loss.
76.  76.  School teachers are angels; they love your children and are a resource to help when your child dies.
77.  77.  Parents still celebrate birthdays when their child dies.
78.  78.  Parents also observe an angelversary, or the anniversary of the day their child died.
79.  79.  ***NEVER leave a child alone in a car, FOR ANY REASON, EVER.
80.  80.  Grief causes extreme fatigue.  You can actually sleep for days or even weeks.
81.  81.  Mother’s Day & Father’s Day are especially challenging when your child has died.
82.   82.  Milestones are remembered and are difficult moments to pass, when your child would have been: walking, crawling, starting school, graduating, or getting married.
83.   83.  There is joy in everything, even loss, find the blessings that come after death.
84.   84.  There is a Conference every 2 years for people that lose children and for their caregivers (i.e.: nurses, doctors, therapist, or professionals).  I highly recommend it.  http://missfoundation.org/conference/
85.   85.   What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…stand a little taller (OK stop singing now)
86.   86.  Immediately after your child is dead, and before the funeral, you can still hold her and love her.  Actually doing this helps in the grief process.
87.   87.   Dressing the body of a person that has passed is filled with love and compassion that are immeasurable.
88.   88.  You learn to appreciate noise, once there is silence.
89.    89.    A death certificate takes months to receive and once received brings on a whole new set of emotions.
90.    90.   A person that loses a child must find an outlet to release their grief i.e.: art, music, exercise.  That outlet helps with the process.
91.    91.    Talking about a deceased child also helps with grief.
92.    92.  Therapy is a good thing.
93.    93.   It doesn’t matter what you do together with your family after losing your child, what matters if being together.
94.    94.  There are angel statues scattered all over the world that were created by Richard Paul Evans.  They were created to honor deceased children and their families.  http://www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues
95.    95.    A picture really does tell a story.  It’s literally worth a thousand words.
96.    96.   ***TAKE MORE PICTURES!!!
97.    97.    A special stuffed animal can help a child that is grieving over having lost a sibling.
98.    98.    Children play with angels and refer to them as their best friends.
99.    99.   The first week after someone loses a child, everyone is there and involved.  BE THERE for them to support them after the first week and for the years to come.
100 100.   Families are forever!
101 101.   Life is a gift.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Amberlee Turns 5

Well this is it.  The last of the large milestones, well at least for awhile.  This year, on March 22nd Amberlee turned 5.  The day was tumultuous.  I felt the sting the day before but was blessed by a very good friend that distracted me for the better part of the day.  We ate Rainbow Cupcakes, but did not do much otherwise.  It was a quiet, easy peaceful day.

I am not sure where to go from here.  Part of me feels that to continually blog dredges out sadness...I need to focus on so many things in my life, while living with this grief.  Other parts of me realize that this blog may be helping someone.  It may make someone else realize that their pain is not abnormal, that losing a child is horribly sad and life changing.

I do have to say that I am in a good place.  I am not sure why, but Amberlee's death and the circumstances surrounding it do not seem as traumatizing as they once did.  Now, I simply miss her.  I miss having her here as I see my other children grow and I wonder where she would be.  I miss having my family complete and with me.  I miss her brown eyes.  I have a constant longing and slight ache that I feel nearly every day.  Of course I would, she is my daughter and I do not have her here.  I no longer feel the need to eliminate friends that don't support my grief.  At this stage I could see why they might be concerned if I were to dwell and sob constantly.  Having said that, I hope they understand that I still need to remember her.

There will be days that I talk about my daughter, still.  There will be day when I chose to remember, and even comment on Facebook about her.  I hope that those who know me, believer that I am healing.  But I will always have a place for my daughter in my life.

With Love,