Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Emily and Jude

Emily rarely had people over to our house when Jude was alive. Since he was so ill I generally would tell Emily and her friends that they had to keep the noise down and I know that was difficult. She told me once that it was also sometimes difficult explaining to people Jude's situation and what all his medical equipment was for plus visitors could expose Jude to more illness. So it eventually morphed into Emily just not inviting people over.  Most days she would just stay home or just would venture out for awhile and get home before 11. She was always attentive to our need for sleep and our need for routine. So the other night she asked me if she could have a group of girls over to decorate overalls for the football games and I agreed. She took her friends up to the large empty room we now have above the garage. After about an hour I went up to see their progress and there in the room with all her friends Emily was laughing and having a good time. It made my heart happy but I knew we both would prefer to still be sitting on the old green couches, holding Jude, and laughing with his nurses. 

I told Mike I wish Jude was at the new house with us but he said that is impossible. He explained that Jude is like a comet that is amazingly bright but can only grace you with his presence for a short time. We have a few cries every now and then but then we take a few more steps forward. Emily inviting people over is a pretty big step forward. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Mental Health Days

One of the most important things I believe a bereaved parent can learn is to step back and admit I just cannot adult today. Yesterday I took the day off work and it was needed. Throughout our lives as we face tragedies and losses we adults have a tendency to keep pushing forward. That's important but it's also important to allow yourself to have moments and to heal. So that's what I did yesterday and I may have to shut life off every now and then until we all get better and you know what? That's okay. 

Chandi at my work said she had someone tell her, " Well didn't they know Jude was sick? Isn't it easier." She said she was startled and then replied "NO it isn't easier. We are all dying but imagine losing your child." 

I had a dream about Jude which was exciting to me because I have not been dreaming of him. I remember he had on a white shirt and white shorts. His hair looked so perfect and I was so impressed at how perfectly styled it was. His teeth were no longer crooked from not eating and he made me feel so peaceful. I don't remember his words but I remember having that same soul reaching happiness around him that I always did. 

We are continuing to get settled into our new home. I am loving the land we sit on and how much peace it brings in the evening. I even have little chickens I tend to and they have brought me a lot of joy. They bring Leibe lots of excitement.........sigh we won't go there but overall it's been wonderful. 

Emily starts school on Monday and our lives will fall back into a normal pattern again. We have lots of last firsts coming up and I am going to enjoy every moment I have with Emily this year. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

An Update On Things You Learn

I did a blog on my experience regarding losing a child less than a month after losing Jude. I thought I would reflect back on that blog and discuss how our grief progressed. 

1. I don't really have the wind knocked out of me anymore when someone asks me how many children I have. I have learned to be honest and I say I have two children a daughter Emily and a son Jude that's in heaven. 

2. I still feel a bit lost and disconnected and I am sure that will continue for some time. 

3. I don't really feel like I am going crazy anymore. I guess that's because I fully grasp that this is a sad situation and I understand it's okay to feel lonely, overwhelming sadness, or desperation. 

4. I wasn't sleeping well after Jude died but I have begun to sleep again. However I wake up on cue around 3:15 like I used to when I would get up and check on him. 

5. I still feel panicked in public situations and somethings I do still feel like yelling but more over I tend to really observe my surroundings more. I really look at people and wonder what is going on their lives. 

6. I had mentioned that people make comparisons regarding their losses. I don't really get that anymore but I do understand that if I do it's because people have a natural reaction to want to identify to the situation and help remedy the problem. I just understand there is no remedy. 

7. Staying busy is still a very good resolution for times I feel very sad. With the new home we are constantly busy and rarely sit down at night until 9pm. 

8. Listening to people complain about trivial things still gets on my nerves but now I have a voice to speak up about it. I politely point out that life could be so much worse. I also have very little tolerance with anyone that lashes out against me right now and I almost find that unforgivable I don't care what the situation is. 

9. I had mentioned before that looking around our house makes me realize nothing will ever be the same. However now we have moved so of course it's really different. My doctor told me that child loss is like losing a limb. Eventually you begin to learn to laugh and move on with life but that life will never be the same as it was before. 

10. I mentioned that normal is questioning where we go when we die. I still think that's normal but I also believe that's where faith comes in. If we believe that we live good lives then we will be reunited with our loved ones. However a part of me also believe that you get back what you put into the world and if you don't put enough good in you just may be coming back to repeat it all over again. 

11.  I still have grief fog......bad. I can forget phone numbers that I just wrote down, I misplace things, I forget what Emily's told me constantly, and I walk away from my desk only to stop and wonder where I was going. If anything this is one situation that's gotten worse versus better. 

12. I loved my therapist that I mentioned cried with me but I moved on to a certified grief counselor. I don't see him often but when I do he helps. 

13. I am no longer annoyed at every single thing and I can get out of bed but I still have little patience for drama. 

14. I still rotate through the stages of grief quickly but it's slowed down some. 

15. I still have panic attacks thinking about holidays approaching but it's only been 4 months. Jude's birthday is coming up so I did take some measures to insure my emotional stability and those around me. I am taking the day off work on his actual birthday 9/2. My boss was very understanding and I had the hours left. I also set up an event at our new home on 8/27. Friends and family will be coming to see the new home and paint rocks in Jude's memory for our surrounding gardens. 

16. I still realize there is no reasoning surrounding the loss of a child or a child being sick. Knowing he is in heaven doesn't help, knowing he is out of pain doesn't help, knowing I will see him again doesn't help. However the very fact I did have him was a blessing. 

17. I still cannot do hospital settings or funerals and that may be a long time issue. 

18. I realize people grieve differently even more. I tend to be very vocal about how I am feeling. I hide my tears frequently but I do speak up if I am having a bad day. Emily is more quiet and you wouldn't even know she was grieving until you ask her a question or notice something she did. Yesterday I walked past her hanging calendar in her room and written on 9/2 was "Jude's Birthday!!!" Mike is still grieving but he has a very take charge attitude now of the situation. He says he made a promise to Jude and each day he lives his life is another step closer to seeing him again. 

19. Being the member of various support forums I still see new members starting to join. I can see the shock in their posts and the anguish in the heartache and I feel so terrible for them. However it's like kindred spirits working through this turmoil together. 

20. You still just learn to cope and others around you learn to cope. You keep moving forward the best you can with those that truly love you around you. You realize others lives go back to normal as the Facebook profiles change back to normal pictures and life begin to march on. So you decide to keep up or fall to the side. I know Jude would want us to keep up. I know everyone around us is grieving for Jude too and we love you for loving him. 

21. I also learned that fighting with insurance doesn't end when your child passes. es. 

I guess I will keep updating these as the year goes by. Jude's headstone should be in soon and I am anxious to see it. The cemetery feels so empty right now so I have been waiting to go see him again when the stone arrives.  We still miss his nurses dearly and are looking forward to the event at our house to get to see them. Sweet Allen texts me every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on cue when he would normally arrive, "morning glory." What a fabulous man he is. Charlotte send me a text this week of a photo from Jude's grave while she was visiting. Candice is still on my Facebook and we laugh at each others posts sometimes. I miss you guys! Love to you. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Car Seat

I am having my car detailed today because I need to trade it in. Jude's car seat is still strapped into his spot in my car and I have not been able to take it out. I was able to box up all of Jude's other items or donate them but I couldn't part with the car seat for some reason. So today the gentlemen cleaning the vehicle explained that they have to have my permission to remove the seat to shampoo the seat properly. I explained the situation and asked them not to strap it back in. Hard day.........just a hard day. 

I haven't felt well lately. I have been late a couple of times to work but Chandi my co-worker is always more than sweet and understanding. She said this will probably continue to happen for awhile until enough time passes that the situation becomes easier to handle. It's nice having people around me that are so understanding. She seems to have a great grip on what it's like to lose a child. She had a fiance that passed away suddenly and she was very close to his mother. She said she watched her go through the grief and understands it's not a quick process. Many of the stories she tells me about his mother I can relate to. 

The house is unpacked and organized which is a relief. We are also working on our new projects which helps keep us busy. When I get home I don't tend to sit down until about 9 each night which is a good thing. 

Emily is starting her college visits today. I cannot believe she will be a senior this year. I am sad she will be leaving home but I am very proud of her! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A quick update

Well the closing has not gone off without a hitch. We were able to move into the house but our buyers buyer had a problem with getting their appraisal back on time. So we are in the house waiting for final confirmation of a close date which we believe will be tomorrow. We also got to the house and our fridge didn't fit and now Emily froze up her ac unit upstairs. So my stress level has not gone down. I also witnessed a horrific accident this morning which pretty much left me teetering on the edge. I had a particularly hard night last night thinking of Jude so I am sure that's why my anxiety is so peaked today. This started because I finally sat down and realized that even though we are in a new place my feelings aren't any better because I still miss him greatly. I know that with each passing day things will begin to get better. 

The good news is that Mike is doing better and said he is moving forward. He thinks that each day he lives happily is another day closer to seeing Jude again. He said he wants to make sure he does everything right in this world because he doesn't want to come back and repeat everything again due to mistakes. He believes there are lots of people he has met that will be suffering through this life again. I think that's an interesting concept. What if hell is actually having to come back and re-do everything versus spending eternity with your loved ones in Heaven? Makes you think doesn't it? Although life is beautiful it's not heaven. 

The positive is that I am nearing completion of the unpacking. As soon as we close I can start working on items and projects around the house. I know this will keep my mind busy and that's what I need right now. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It Just Hits You Like WHAM!

I had a nice lady in a loss group share a post about losing her special needs child. She included the following sentence. 

"You become a "doctor", a "pharmacist", a "lawyer", an "advocate", an "educator", and some people's worst nightmare (Mama Bear doesn't even begin to cover it)! Almost every single waking moment is focused on this child."

She is right and she expressed that in the most perfect way and I can feel the emotions in her sentences. She feels a bit lost since she doesn't have her person to care for anymore and I relate to her feelings. Our move is going through and I am packing up the last of the items I need to put into boxes. As I finished some packing and exited Jude's room last night I once again had tears streaming down my face. Mike stopped and asked me what was wrong and I told him I hate packing. I explained that every time I pack I encounter another reminder of our loss and this time it was a simple medical tag hanging on Jude's shelf. I have no doubt the amazing nurse Charlotte hung it there for easy access for deliveries. He chuckled and I know it wasn't to make fun of me in any manner. He simple said, "a tag makes you cry but you can look at pictures each day? The pictures stab me in the heart." It's the little things that get me for some reason. The tiny little Ninjas waiting around the corner like the talking Scout toy that was stacked in numbers at Wal Mart. For some reason the little things you don't think about on a daily basis are the hardest for me to deal with.  I had to get a crib sheet today and walking into Babies are Us was like walking through a haunted house. Around every corner was a reminder of Jude, a little boy his age, or something he would never get the opportunity to use. I almost felt like Jude was there for a bit just guiding me through the store to find what I needed and guiding me gently out. So I fluctuate between having good moments and not so great moments but if the good outweighs the bad then I think I am making progress. 

I do tend to struggle if I am faced with stressful situations. They are not as easy to handle as they used to be and weigh heavier on my shoulders. At times I feel like I cannot handle any type of stress and throw my hands up and walk away. It's just how it is right now and how it may continue to be for a long time. 

So I am mixed on my feelings about our move this weekend. I am sure I will shed tears but I have lots of friends coming to help and lots of family. I know I will have many shoulders to lean on and so will Emily and Mike. I know in the end this move will be a positive change. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Have You Checked Your Check Engine Light?

I am currently learning about personal boundaries and how to improve my life. I didn't write this to call anyone out but rather I am writing this to share what I have learned and maybe help someone else going through grief. I found this quote on one of the informational sites I have been reading and it resonated with me. 

“You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” ~Unknown

I want you to imagine having an injury that has affected a nerve in your body. That nerve is frayed, sensitive, and every time it's touched a shock of intense unbearable pain runs through your body. That's how my grief is right now. It's new, it's fresh, and my emotions are at their very peak. So anything even trivial can become a very big deal in my little world. On Saturday I had a terrible experience when I went to the movies with my family. I had a situation/argument escalate out of control. Because I didn't lay the groundwork for the foundation I needed for my boundaries I was enveloped in drama. I wound up on the side of the building bawling while my family sat inside. My husband eventually found me and although comforted me he also scolded me for allowing my emotions to escalate the way they did. That's right I allowed it. It wasn't anyone else fault that I allowed the situation to exhaust me and take over. I allowed an outside situation to ruin the evening with my family and they suffered for it. 

I read an article about checking your own personal engine lights and I found it fascinating. If you are in a situation that is not desirable then ask yourself what's causing the issue. Is the person draining? Are you draining? Is the situation worth losing a relationship? Is it worth losing yourself? What lights are going off on your personal dashboard and are you ignoring them? When we don't check our engine lights and find the root cause of the issue then we are just giving away wasted energy. I was not checking my own personal engine lights and because of that I was suffering from anxiety and over emotional responses. I wasted energy I could use to heal my heart from losing Jude and energy that I could use to mend my family who has suffered so much over the past year. 

My husband is an expert at setting and maintaining boundaries both personal and professional. He will warn anyone that begins to cross the line with him but if they keep crossing they get bitten (metaphorically speaking of course). I am not good at this and never have been. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and it has cost me severely. I am not good at being assertive, I fear people's responses, and I care to much about what others think. I do this in my professional life and in my personal life. However with Jude's situation I did get a bit better about saying "no."  

One of the number one complaints I read in my loss forum is the parent who lost the child feeling people are crossing their personal property line. They want to throw up a no trespassing sign but they feel guilty or afraid to do so. So how to we implement a no trespassing sign in times of grief in a way that we don't hurt the other party?  I learned to have compassion for the others and understand they have feelings too. Then firmly and respectfully set your boundary and their response is not your responsibility. All you can do is take care of yourself. I learned if you do this both professionally and personally then your life, emotional state, and physical state improves. So that's my quest to follow this program.