Monday, December 22, 2014

THIRTY YEARS TODAY

Tim and Donna (both age 20)

 Michael at 18 months


Donna age 26 with Michael


Lisa at 4 and 1/2 months



Today is December 22nd-30 years ago today- 28 year old Tim, 9 and a half month old Lisa, and 27 month old Michael- went to Heaven. Without me! And from that point on, my life changed in ways I never could possibly had imagined. Like all bereaved moms, I never knew heart pain that deep even existed. As extensive as my physical injuries and pain were-they were minuscule- compared to the pain of separating physically from my family.

After the wreck, my physical rehabilitation therapist was direct and stressed how important it was to work hard-to prevent loss of function. That approach worked for my body. But it was directly the opposite when it came to healing my broken spirit…The more opinionated and direct "consolers" were…the more I wanted them to leave me alone! Only the gentle, quiet and compassionate could help to heal my suffering spirit. I did have to "work" at it with God's help…but it had to be in my time, and on my terms...

I wasn't able to really understand how God was "found in the details"-until enough time had passed for me to stand back and then to "survey the big picture". You just can't see how details add to the whole composition of a canvas, until you stand back far enough. When enough time went by, I could finally let go of the "frame" and then, physically separated from my near stranglehold, I was able to look forward and really see.

"Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. "And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand." (Romans 14:4) NIV
 I appreciate much more now, the talented artistry of our Creator,  viewing details now so plainly seen...

This morning when I first got up and was standing by my kitchen window, coffee in hand, I noticed my neighbor's tree. It's branches were mostly barren. It didn't look anything like it does in full bloom. It looked really dead-But it was only dead by appearance only... Come Spring, and it will again be lush and green and in full flower. Mere appearances do really deceive.

"Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." (John 7:24) NIV

I think that's the key to surviving child bereavement. Knowing that our children are not really dead. "Sleeping" (as Jesus describes the little deceased girl He brought back to life- amidst much laughter and derision), is really more descriptive. Because Michael and Lisa (and Dad Tim) are not completely dead. Only the physical shell has been cast off-their souls are vibrantly more alive than ever. That's such a pivotal point I think-the most important in my humble opinion.

"...it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:44) NIV

They are still alive and so we will be able to see them and be with them again! Bereaved moms do have a future with their children! Reunion is coming!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11) NIV


Michael told me shortly before he (physically) died, "Going Home…to be with Jesus!" And now, after 30 years, I feel like I'm finally in the "Home stretch". And "stretch"-I sure have had to do all these years on this walk. Through Jesus' help, stretching has kept me limber and able.

Tim, Michael and Lisa, give the Birthday Boy a hug for me! 

Love you always! and "Merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TRUST




"Trust…but verify!" That's the go-to method for alot of us…But how does one do that-when it comes to the issue of "The Afterlife"??? 

Some things we just cannot verify-at least in the usual way we do so. Just like some things we can never know in this life ("Why did that 10 ton truck have to be right there at the intersection, God?") For me, the answer all comes down to my trust that…

GOD KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING…

There's plenty of Scripture references, in regard to God knowing the end before the beginning, etc. That nothing happens without His total awareness and how nothing can be concealed that won't be revealed in due time.  So with all this might and power that we trust He has, because He is God…why is it so hard to let go and trust that our children are really doing "Ok" in Heaven?

Change in that area happened slowly for me. At first, I was consumed with the idea that they somehow were "needy" of me…"Where's Mommy?" "Mommmeeeee!!!" When I read a news clipping about the accident, and read that "For awhile, it appeared that the boy was alive"…I about lost it. Instant death therefore no suffering huh? Well that just blew that sustaining premise right outta the water for me…
Again with the "They needed me and I wasn't there for them!" torturous thinking. 

It's as if I had to gradually ease into the understanding-and acceptance-that my kids were now entirely self sufficient and not only doing fine in their new lives, but are overwhelmingly satisfied and content-along with being just plain old "happy"…

"I can do all things through God"…including letting go of my very human, maternal  protective instincts toward my children now with Jesus…now that they are no longer needed...

I was thinking how easy it is for us to trust our doctors, our priests, even the plumber when it comes to accepting their answers to our questions and concerns. Why is it so hard for us to trust the One, True Savior of the World-who hung on a cross, suffering a most excruciating death…for me, for you…Who loves us so incredibly more than we can even conceive of…Who never lies or deceives…and we have trouble trusting Him because, why again???

I'm a stubborn person. I'll come to my own conclusions, thank you. And if yours differs from mine, thank you, but I'm still sticking with my deeply held beliefs. Most of the time. But sometimes, I need to let that stinkin' thinkin' as they say, take a hike and look at things from a fresh perspective. When I'm not under an incredible amount of mind-numbing pain and irrationality. And when the time comes to let those errant thoughts leave me-to be open to the fact that letting go can be a good thing. Because in the letting go, I've found so many things of value-come back to me. 


It just seems like so very little really matters in the grand scheme of things. If we're operating under the principal that our children in Heaven are super knowledgeable and beyond simplistic thinking, do I really need to feel like a shmuck of a mother because I forgot to light my candles recently, during the "TCF WORLD-WIDE CANDLE LIGHTING DAY"??? Yes, I had a momentary "Oh poop" moment, but recalled afterward, that, being mortal, I had been utterly physically exhausted from that day's activities, and had been so busy with helping other mortals with my earthly chores and duties…it slipped my mind. I think next year I'll just set the candles out where I will see them-as a memory aid…Thinking hard about it all the day before, just didn't seem to cut it this year, as I ended up forgetting anyway. But I know that they know…that I love them forever. Regardless if I remember to light candles or not…they will always be a light in my soul that shines perpetually.

I love my children very, very much. They know that-I know that-and of course Jesus knows that. That's all that's essential really. Guilt (side) trips, just give us lengthy detours -on this already long journey! But thankfully, there is a destination we're headed to-and it will make the wait so very, very much worth it.

I trust You, Jesus…You've never failed me and I know that "All things work for good"-even the lousy stuff-You have the power and ability to transform a lowly substance-under high pressure and high temperature- into diamonds that shine forever…Talk about illumination!!!




Saturday, November 29, 2014

TEMPORARY RESIDENCE




The other day, I stumbled onto the name of a record label that gave me pause for thought...

                                          "Temporary Residence"

This led me to a stream of thoughts about our own "temporary residence"…Earth.

I looked up the dictionary meaning of "temporary"-just for the heck of it. Apparently it's from the Latin word for "time"...huh… Words that are listed as being synonyms of "temporary",  include the likes of:

"brief", "interim","limited", "makeshift", "momentary", "transitory", "impermanent"," 
"make-do", "mortal", "passing", "perishable", "shifting", "short", "transient", "volatile" (!) "Band-Aid" (!) "changeable", "fleeting", "slapdash", "unfixed", and "unstable".

The list of words which are opposites of "temporary," was very short!  Only "lengthy", "long-lived", "permanent", "long" and "unabridged." That contrast, was interesting in and of itself!

One of the main changes I've encountered over the many years of being on this bereavement journey, is how I felt about being "here" vs. "there"…Or of being in my "temporary residence"  vs.  my "permanent residence". 

Although I did feel "left behind" when my family instantly transitioned to Heaven without me…I never wanted to leave this planet. I wanted to be physically alive on this planet, and glad that I was. There was some guilt in feeling relieved that I, too, had not died in the wreck. Even though a Christian, I still felt deep down that at least I knew exactly what this earthly existence is all about. I did feel confidently, that Heaven was a wonderful place, but I was fine just staying here and waiting for Reunion when God called me Home, too, thank you! This planet seemed more permanent than temporary, back then. Although I was completely shattered by my family's (physical deaths), I did not want to also (physically) die…Back then I had to get the prejudiced idea out of my mind, that death was darkness…and not the bright light- that I truly believe it is, now...

I was all about the physical back then. Maybe because the physical was so fresh in my mind, and the lack so keenly felt in my arms. Every belonging of theirs was like gold to be guarded. I was paranoid that one of the nurses would carelessly take up my hospital sheets -with Lisa's new portrait photos still on the bed. My father in law brought them to the hospital, the JCPenney portrait photos we'd taken before the wreck. When he said he was bringing them over, I was worried, as he wasn't the most gentle of men. And sure enough, he had rumpled one of the 8X10's…and I felt devastated.

When I returned home the first time after being discharged, I found one of the kid's photo frames up on the fireplace mantel was now broken.  My mother had crocheted around the frame, making a little keepsake -one for Michael and one for Lisa.  The little plastic stand on the back of Michael's was now broken. Who did it? How could they have done this? I went into a tailspin! These things were the only physical links I had to my children…to mar one of those was akin to harming their body. Completely focusing on such things, probably meant I didn't have to focus on what really happened to their bodies.

We had wildfires last Spring, that necessitated me picking and choosing what to take in the limited amount of space in my son's car. Important documents took up so much room! The "necessities" of living life on this planet...I  did not feel panic stricken, at the thought of having to leave so much "memory" material behind. Like their baby books…To me it now seems like remnants (although still of great sentimental value to me) of a past age-now progressed from horse and buggy to rockets….


Over much time, and with God's help, I've come to the conclusion that I know just a fraction of what they're really like-now that they're in Heaven- with God. So very many things we mortals focus on, seem of so very little ultimate importance- in the grand scheme of things. Everything here is just temporary. How we look. How they look. Our possessions… Their possessions...Our temporary residence.

Nowadays,  I feel that photos, are only a passing moment in time. They have moved on! They have progressed on in an incredibly accelerated rate…! It's a photo of how they used to be…not what they are now…It's a rendition of their temporary appearance….It is nice to look and and remember, but I no longer clutch onto a photo with panicky hands. That to me, would be as if my mother looked at my baby photo…and remained thinking that's how I still am, (or that's all I am)...even though I'm now in my late 50's and have grown in all ways since that second in time. Photos are nice to look at, but I remember they're not really that indicative of how (perfect) they are now! They're now so advanced…they can even go through walls!

All things are temporary here. Scientists tell us that what we see isn't really even solid-but merely consisting of non-solid, molecular energy. (Don't quote me on that lol.) 

In the areas I've lived in, "renters" are liked less than "homeowners" as the HOA's don't allow short term house rentals. This is because it is thought, that those who are only "temporary"- will not care that much about things! Maybe we mortals should remember that Earth is only our temporary residence,  throw a party or two, enjoying this moment in time, remembering that our loved ones are with us even now in Spirit, but also remembering this isn't really our true home. Our true Home is where our beloveds already are…In light-with Jesus-and ready to welcome us inside, into their loving arms with a forever-embrace. We have so much to look forward to!
















Sunday, November 23, 2014

THE HOLIDAY BLUES




This is the time of year, that most of us bereaved moms struggle with the most. Too much to do, on top of not feeling "up"…it just all gets to be too much (understatement of the year)…

Newly bereaved moms-don't expect too much from yourself. You've been shattered. You've suffered the worst blow to the human body and soul that is possible. It's going to take time to heal, to eventually bounce back. (Yes, it is possible to bounce back- in time.) It's not going to be easy, but we have One who has suffered as we have, who understands human weakness and suffering and sorrow.  He's especially close to us when we feel the most alone and in the most distress. Even if we don't "feel it"-He is there with us in the trenches...

That phone call from a friend you just received- that you hadn't heard from for so long? Influence of the Holy Spirit, prompting her/him to call. That card in the mailbox that took you by surprise? That finding on the sales rack of one size left (and it's your size!)-Encouragement from the Holy Spirit. Yes, I truly believe that even such things as surprise finds on the Clearance Rack, are given to us, as encouragements from Above. To help us continue the race. He knows our energy reserves are low and we're faltering…These little kindnesses from Above, are highly individualized, also...

Even minute amounts of water and light, help sustain a plant that's struggling.

When I look back over 30 years (this Dec. 22), I see how my early grief contrasts so sharply to my mindset now. I'm all about keeping a positive mindset, now. Seeing that glass as half full. Focusing on our upcoming Reunion…gain and not loss. Not letting myself "go there" because nothing good ever comes when I'm feeling blue and then "go there".

Back then, all I knew was pain. It was not possible to even "feel" for anyone else's pain. I was so completely saturated-every pore contained pain pain and nothing but pain. I simply could not contain any more. 

Similarly to an infant getting inoculated-the baby knows nothing except IT HURTS…Wails of protest will erupt, and rightfully so! No one would think to tell that baby, "That's enough now! Stop crying!" (As I was reprimanded by a night nurse, shortly after the wreck.)  The child is comforted and dealt patiently with... for as long as it is necessary. We are all God's children.

It's also beyond the child's comprehension, to understand the "Why?"…Acceptance that there is a reason for this pain, isn't understood until much, much later...  Pain starting to subside is what finally makes the infant stop crying. And there's usually some lingering residual of whimpering at the shock, the indignity and the awful unfairness of it all…

I wonder why some people feel the need to "tell us" why they think our child has died? So many things said to me early on, didn't fall so much on "deaf" ears, but on "numb" ears. I put up with many people trying to play God, and trying to tell me "why" the wreck happened. And some answers really felt like a whipping, to me…

"You had something you needed to learn!" I was told. And I've been questioned several times over the years, as to whether I was a Christian before the wreck happened or only after… I saw a lot of smugness among Christians... I often felt tiny, while some "helpers" towered over me as I lay "recovering" in my hospital bed …I did learn a valuable lesson…the most helpful response to me was "I don't know what to say,  just that I'm sorry…" Less said- spoke more to me.

We need Jesus' help before, during and after all troubles that befall us…When time provided enough of a scab and the numbing effect was gone-I had to call on God's grace- to help me not respond angrily toward those who continued to know "exactly" what I was going through…With the numbness gone, I was able though, to "feel" more for those who had also suffered child bereavement-or any loss, for that matter. I was able to be fed, and I grew.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

"Endurance" has been "the" keyword for me, all of the many years since my bereavement.  "Patient" endurance…like we're called on to have in Scripture, is something that has to be worked at…it does not come automatically just because we desire it. Not anymore than being successful at anything, comes just because we "want" it…Being so-called "successful" at surviving child bereavement, involves like anything else, "practice, practice, practice"…

Calling on Jesus to help us, is the best singular thing we can do, to help us get through anything-especially the upcoming, perilous holidays. And keeping a reserve of energy, by saying "No!" to anything that will completely deplete us, or even hints at it...helps too. There will, God willing, be many years ahead of service to our families and our Lord… For now, others will need to practice giving us bereaved moms the gift of kindness, patience and compassion.  "Rest awhile"…it's not possible- nor even smart-to run uphill with a broken leg. Give yourself time to heal first! And time-coupled with Jesus' helping us- really does help us toward restoration.







Sunday, November 9, 2014

VETERANS DAY


I believe that a special day of remembrance for nonmilitary battlers, should also be observed once a year!  First and foremost, in my mind, is to honor Moms who have fought, or are currently fighting, probably the hardest war there is...The Child Bereavement War…

Veterans Day honors those military who have served the United States. I used to think it was for primarily honoring those who'd given their lives. I read recently that it is actually the opposite-honoring those veterans still alive. Which is a wonderful observance, and I am all for it. But there's a part of me that thinks, perhaps there should be, a special observance set aside for those who have  fought valiantly (and perhaps not so valiantly-perhaps they're still MIA), battles of another kind... Internal struggles of epic proportions... All struggles pertaining to the tortuous, psychological warfare we've endured.  Those of us who have experienced battle wounds and blood loss in our childhood-perhaps making some of us, prisoners of war for awhile…Sometimes in the midst of all that suffering, we can seemingly go "AWOL".

Bereaved Moms are like Generals, trying to recover, from the horrific physical loss of one or more of our troops- those under our Command-our children. All the while trying to maintain troop  (family) cohesiveness and stability…

There are any number of private wars that have been fought- sometimes won and sometimes lost-yet we mortals are all soldiers, fighting a strong foe. Thankfully, we have the strongest Commander in Chief there is-Jesus Christ-who leads us ultimately to a final victory over self. His Mercy is unfathomable. His Kindness knows no limits. Not even Time can interfere with His ardent desire to Save Us…Time length is said to greatly expand, shortly after death, giving ample opportunity to partake in "There are no atheists in foxholes!" belief. Those who will at any point in time, allow Him to lead the way, will return Home from battle-to a warm and generous welcoming by many. 

We are  the Church militant-all of us who continue our struggles, amidst periodic enemy gunfire. We may spend time after physical death, as the Church suffering (in Purgatory) and we won't become the Church triumphant...until our wartime is ended, but by then we've crossed over from hostile enemy territory into Friendly Territory-aka "Our Heavenly Home". We'll be reunited with all of our loved ones, and some very special war comrades…for  a different and positive kind of eternal, "Call to (Loving) arms…"

Sunday, November 2, 2014

ALL SOULS' DAY



Today is "All Souls' Day"…and my pastor emphasized today, in a nutshell, what this special day is really all about. She stated very succinctly,

"THEY AREN'T DEAD…THEY'RE STILL ALIVE!"

In honor of the occasion, my fellow parishioners and I  had been asked to bring photos of our deceased loved ones. So after an unusually hectic day yesterday, I found myself at midnight, trying to get three small photos onto one large, adhesive laminating sheet. I figured that would be the easiest way, to bring three photos to church, in my backpack (I bike to church). Time is so scarce for me on Sunday morning, I  decided it would be best to get it done that night, as it would be one last thing I'd have to do in the morning. 

Unfortunately, this clever idea quickly turned into a disaster. Somehow the paper with the directions-which I was supposed to remove-got stuck where it wasn't supposed to be! Uh oh...I would have to relaminate. Which meant removing the already-stuck-to-the-adhesive photos. I got brave (didn't follow the directions warning) and removed all pictures so I could try again. God was merciful, and two of the three pictures were relatively unscathed. 

But Michael's photo, would now have to be laminated over, two times. I then saw (directions) ink on Michael's hand...I briefly thought of leaving it-perhaps people would think he was just finished with a messy painting session? Ultimately,  I snipped it off with a scissors. And then I saw all the air bubbles that defied all efforts to vanquish them…they just kept remorphing elsewhere on the photos. A sharp safety pin tip, finally took care of that, but there was still a kind of blurry effect I didn't like.

I mention this, because early on in my grief, this kind of thing would have sent me reeling in utter distress. I would probably have broken down into a very big crying session, in anguish, over the fact that their photos were irreparably marred. Even knowing they were copies, I'm sure what happened, would have sent me over the edge of near despair.

How things have changed for me…I felt a tiny twinge of the old familiar panic, but quickly reminded myself that all was really OK! That even though others may even bring photos of their loved ones, in elaborate frames perhaps (I had no idea since this was my first All Souls' Day at this church)...it didn't really matter... not in the grand scheme of things. My loved ones'  worth and value, and the amount of love I have for them, is not dependent on the frame I have or don't have, or the condition of the photos I bring in. Although their photos may be less than perfect…they are  perfect in person! That's all that really matters! Everything else is all fluff!

The final photo I took to church and placed on the altar, fit right in with all the other parishioners' photos. Some were in fancy frames, some taken right out of a photo album… but... the one common characteristic everyone shared, was love.










Friday, October 24, 2014

SOMETIMES GIVING UP- WINS THE BATTLE


I opened my kitchen window the other day, and heard the child next door, apparently having a very bad meltdown. On and on the poor child railed-big sobs erupting into angry wails and shrieking. After praying for them both, I had an insight.

All that angry wailing and flailing around-how utterly tiring that had to be! Maybe that is why, especially after Moms are first told of their child's death-we are always so very tired. We also do a kind of internal flailing of arms and legs- and shrieking in anger at the top of our voices- to a Power that just doesn't want to budge on His position. The answer is "No"-and it doesn't matter to us, how parentally kind or gentle His responses are back to us…because the answer still remains "No"-we're not getting our child back physically. And that's final.

Is it any wonder that it takes a very long time usually, for us Moms to get back into a calmer, more "balanced" state? We have to accept that the unthinkable has happened, and that the answer from One having power over ALL THINGS… is that dreaded "No". That doesn't go down easily for us…not any more than with my neighbor's child being denied his desire.

We believe that God has control over all situations, at all times. We do have free will, but God can do miracles. So what happened? Why is my child now physically deceased? I did all the right things. What is this kind of "repayment"?

After awhile (sometimes a very long while), we realize that all the flailing and screaming and shrieking at this utmost injustice, isn't changing anything.  And then  the near-despair sets in. It isn't as though we go gently into that good night…No, it's more like that night drags us kicking and screaming, down  down down- right into the deepest abyss of unrelenting depression. And at that point, it's truly "make it or break it" time, for our deepest beliefs about life beyond the grave. Life afterward...for both Mother and Child. 


For me, there was a kind of "surrender" at one point. Being driven to the point of utter exhaustion by the Grief War, I "laid down my arms"…and finally gave up- and gave in, to what God had allowed to happen. I completely hated the fact, that my children were no longer physically alive.  But as I looked back at my life experiences, I saw how Jesus had already helped me through, some incredibly difficult times in my life previously. He really was worthy of my trust. 

I could not understand the reason "Why?"- but just like my neighbor's child- not knowing the reason "Why?" and continuing to violently protest, isn't gong to bring about the desired result. And it is exhausting on all levels. We have to trust, that Jesus always knows what He is doing-in the past, in the present, and in our gloriously joyful future Reunions… We have so very much to anticipate-and this forward thinking frees us, and increases our energy available,  to soar- rather than being grounded by every oncoming headwind coming at us… 

"With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies." (Psalm 60:12) 
 

"The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (1 Corinthians 15:26)

Friday, October 3, 2014

MOVING FORWARD





There isn't anything the enemy loves better than to keep us worried and anxious about something. Anything. He doesn't want us to trust God-he wants us to be skeptics, doubters and lose confidence in our Savior when events go all wrong.

I try aways, to remember what I read once, about an important "wartime" strategy…

     "Make the enemy think he will will never be able to overcome and to win--Destroy his confidence in that EVER happening…half the battle is then won...before it even starts!"

This, "on the ground" battle truism,  works for our struggles on the spiritual battleground, also…

The enemy we find isn't stupid-his intelligence far surpasses our own…and he's crafty. Waits for "an opportune time." Masquerades as someone we felt we could trust…If he can throw us off balance, he can topple us all the easier.

How fortunate my children (our children) are... to be where there is no more warfare. Where peace reigns and is undisturbed, within and without. Where no one can snatch away their joy. As it says in Scripture:

Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. (Micah 4:4) (NIV)

And that, for all eternity!

Our job on this planet, along with whatever God-given talents we are gifted and use…is to "endure". I find it gets harder, as I age, to do this work of enduring. I so long to enjoy my reward…already! It's so hard to be patient, when I know the Candy Store is just around the corner... and how I so long for sweet  confections! Constantly!

If we're still on this planet, there's still work to be done by us. No matter what state or shape we're in. God makes use of us, in any way, shape or form- because He wastes nothing. And His creativity knows no limits.

I'm constantly amazed at how creative He is, in coordinating aspects of my life that, hitherto, I've seen no rhyme or reason. The dots get connected, when I'm able to see in straight lines…

I'm here for the duration, for however long that is. Only, please Jesus,  help me to be able to live up to the expectation(s) that You have of me, Wonderful Counselor and Divine Physician.

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) (World English Bible)

With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (Psalm 60:12) (NIV)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MICHAEL'S BIRTHDAY


Today Michael would have been a whopping "32" years old! In the photo above, he is all of 10 months old…

I remember that day well. I had a box of hair ribbons on my bedroom dresser, that I thought he might enjoy looking at. I was pleasantly surprised how "into" the tactile aspect of this play, he seemed to be. As he pulled ribbon after ribbon out of the box,  he seemed almost mesmerized- kind of like- when a magician brings one, seemingly endless chiffon scarf after another, out of a container.

It was a warm day, as evidenced by his spartan clothing, and the fact that there's no bedspread on the master bedroom double bed. As for the ribbons...I think Michael enjoyed those ribbons, more than some of the pricey toys he had! I think he had an artistic bent to him, as he really seemed to enjoy anything "artsy"…

That's part of the dilemma of having a child transition so young…I'm left with forever wondering what Michael (and Lisa) "preferred"! What talents would they have gone on to possess and enjoy? I can only conjecture from what evidence I had of 27 months of living with my Michael-and 9 1/2 months of living with my Lisa. Since I believe they are "complete" in this new life they live, I presume they have normal likes and dislikes, too…but... what are they?

I miss this little angel…Someone told me recently, a Catholic woman well versed in such matters, that Michael (and Lisa) occupied the highest tier in Heaven (apparently there's "3" tiers). Children that die before the age of "reason" are gathered at the feet of Jesus, and have the highest place in Heaven, she told me, because they are "sinless", having died before they were capable of committing conscious sin. Once I got past my being flummoxed ("There's…exclusivity in Heaven?"-not exactly) I found some comfort in the fact that they are "gifts" to God, up in Heaven- as well as to me, down here.

A Catholic nun told me shortly after the tragedy, with a big smile, that I, "Have given gifts to God!" "Two gifts!" and how it wasn't often, that people are able to give God gifts…
All I could think of at the time, was how much of an "indian giver" I felt like... (to use the archaic term-no offense meant to Native Americans. )

There's a Scripture verse I find I really like. When I feel sad, I think of it often…here are several versions of Psalm 43:5-courtesy of Bible Hub (biblehub.com). For brevity, just read your favorite Bible version's one...

New International Version
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
New Living Translation
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again--my Savior and my God!
English Standard Version
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
New American Standard Bible 
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
King James Bible
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. 
International Standard Version
Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, because I will praise him once again, since his presence saves me and he is my God.
NET Bible
Why are you depressed, O my soul? Why are you upset? Wait for God! For I will again give thanks to my God for his saving intervention. 
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Why have you agitated me, my soul, and why have you perplexed me? Look for God, because I shall again praise him, The Savior of my entire being, and my God. 
GOD'S WORD® Translation
Why are you discouraged, my soul? Why are you so restless? Put your hope in God, because I will still praise him. He is my savior and my God.
Jubilee Bible 2000
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Wait for God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the saving health of my countenance and my God.
King James 2000 Bible
Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disturbed within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
American King James Version
Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
American Standard Version
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God. 
Douay-Rheims Bible
To thee, O God my God, I will give praise upon the harp : why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me? Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him : the salvation of my countenance, and my God. 
Darby Bible Translation
Why art thou cast down, my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God.
English Revised Version
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Webster's Bible Translation
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
World English Bible
Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise him: my Savior, my helper, and my God. For the Chief Musician. By the sons of Korah. A contemplative psalm.
Young's Literal Translation
What! bowest thou thyself, O my soul? And what! art thou troubled within me? Wait for God, for still I confess Him, The salvation of my countenance, and my God!

My favorite is the very first one, the New International Version…

Even though Michael (and Lisa) died too young for the world to know their greatness, God knows. And that's all that really matters. To God alone, do one's worth and value matter. "Endings"- in my humble opinion, aren't as important as "New Beginnings"...I look at a Crucifix, and find more than ample verification of this idea! Just as Christ's story didn't end at His death...so do Michael and Lisa now experience new, and abundantly joyful, life in Paradise…playing at the feet of Jesus, just like my friend said…And I "will yet praise Him"…when I again, snuggle into their arms at our Reunion! I love you Michael Mouse (and your little sister Lisa Leprechaun too) Give your Dad a kiss for me! Nite!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

PATIENT ENDURANCE


I've been thinking about being reunited in Heaven with my family, for close to 30 years now...And 2 Cor. 4:18 is a favorite of mine:

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."



For bereaved moms…this may seem like topsy-turvy thinking here…It seems to be saying that those in Heaven, are more truly alive than those on earth! They are never ending- whereas down here- we're all subject to decline and decay. I almost feel as if I should rejoice that my children are fully alive in Heaven…and mourn for those of us (including children) now dying a slow, painful physical death here on this planet

But of course... it did take "awhile" to come to the realization that my children have, in essence, won the Lottery…
I had to gradually relinquish Michael and Lisa (and Tim) to Our Father, before He restored them back to me- through a deepened Faith. I feel much closer to them now- than I did right after it seemed like they'd been yanked right out of my mothering arms. It is nice to be able to look at photos and see so much more in them. And to not let bother me what I used to see…like an undarned hole in Michael's sock-glaringly evident to me…once...

All our earthly joy, as great as it is, is still merely temporary. It doesn't hold a candle to the joy that can never be ripped away from us, in Heaven. Even the word "temporal" as in "all temporal joy" has its roots in the Latin word for "time", which is "tempus". 


After my bereavement, for years, I thought deeply on the verse's meaning ( cited earlier). I concluded- there was really no way I could ever believe, any of us gets "cheated", by going to Heaven early. Contrary to popular and frequently stated opinion, I was not the fortunate one to be left behind…My being a survivor was yet to be realized...


I believe recovery from child bereavement for a Christian, really does comes down to one word…TRUST. If I call myself a Christian, I hold to certain beliefs as truths. And in times of trouble, that's when I really need to trust in those beliefs.  I have always felt it's a "make it or break it" time- when push comes to shove after a beloved's death... and it's time to turn on the faith engine, rev it up with Trust... and get going…But first the car has to start…and that may take a bit of time to restore...

Lately, I see an area where I can improve my faith life. I've been so super-focused, for years, on the topic of life in Heaven for my children/ for myself. I realize that I have neglected to abandon my usual "knee- jerk" response, in regard to the daily stressors of life down here. I have the utmost faith in the next life being suburb. I'm going to try to stop worrying so much down here, and to "enjoy the ride" more! I will start asking Jesus to help me with that. God assures us, that "For everyone who asks, receives." Matthew 7:8 Thanks be to God!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WEARY SOLDIERS

After close to 30 years traveling the child bereavement road, I surprised myself today.  I was brought very low-to a place I rarely go to these days, thinking of my transitioned loved ones. There's so many of them "up there", that sometimes I  feel like a soldier who's been deserted by his battalion...

I let myself "go there"- to that mindset that is primarily- wishing again that it was all just a bad nightmare. That I could just wake up from it, and all would once again be how it "used to be"…

I broke one of my rules. I got too tired out. It didn't take me long after the tragedy, to learn about that rule. I found that the more tired I was, the less amount of "trigger" it took to erupt my emotions. And it made no difference if I was in a staid social setting-my emotional deluge "dam of sorrow", would break loose whenever and wherever it pleased…

We get weary sometimes, us "Sorrow Soldiers". It's a rough war that we fight. I have come to believe that grief recovery, isn't so much about ending the emotional "war" we're engaged in. I believe that actually, we learn better combat skills… and just become a more skilled soldier.

Skilled soldiers can engage in battle longer, knowing the appropriate weapons to use to best aid their fight. They've seen more horrors. They can endure more, having experienced more. With each battle, they can learn what to do better, to improve their chances for survival.

Does war ever get "easier"? No... but I believe that we soldiers can gain more skill in using our tools…increasing our odds to persevere in the battle. We learn how to "endure" battle...

Jesus, being our Commander in Chief… has a battle plan for us.  He helps us to follow this plan, by giving us "support troops" to aid us in our struggle to overcome. He doesn't expect us to go it alone. If a soldier needs back up support…he asks for help and isn't ashamed to do so. It's only smart strategy-there really is "strength in numbers."

None of us Sorrow Soldiers should be surprised if, when overly tired, we experience tactical errors. A surgeon cannot perform at his utmost skill level, when physically exhausted. And Sorrow Soldiers constantly face an ongoing and exhausting recovery, from a barrage of simultaneous pummeling and shattering.

Triggers which ignite our souls on fire with anguish, come fast and furious-especially during the first part of war. The goal of the enemy is always to conquer and divide as quickly as possible. Missiles are therefore non-stop, especially during early battle. But repetition after repetition helps to dull the knee- jerk response of shock and terror. Our skills for tolerating battle develop and grow…like a little seedling- that transforms into a large tree, eventually able to provide restful shade. And each seedling grows at their own, individual rate of growth.

When first bereaved, I was in a war that I could not acknowledge even existed.  Children do not (physically) die before their parents. There was a mistake. It couldn't be.  I felt weaker than I had ever felt…at a time when I had to garner every ounce of energy... to fight the hardest battle I'd ever had to fight...

 After finally believing a war is in fact, truly in effect…then I had to figure out how to fight... And as mothers, we are geared more oward love and nurturing…Gentle things…baby powder and "Huggies"  and delicate pastels…certainly not "war"...

I was feeling rather strong one day while visiting the cemetery where my family was newly buried.  I had steeled myself and stiffened my innards and felt I could stand.

I was trying to focus more on the beauty my children now had... and not on what was going on underneath the cold ground where they lay...

I gathered my silk flowers (I lived too far away to use real flowers) and was just giving a fussy, final arranging tug to them. I was pleased with my choice of colors-white for purity and innocence, and red for true love.

All of a sudden, the most horrid, squiggly slug creatures slithered out of the urn- and I jumped back in total and utter disgust…I couldn't get away from there fast enough-at the same time feeling guilt for wanting to leave…and being able to leave...

We soldiers on this shared journey engage in much hand to hand combat-of an up front and personal nature...

Remembering what it was like those early years...I'm not going to let myself get too tired anymore. In fact, it's late here in CA, and I'd better close for now. I'm going to better remember our battle Commander's words,  to "rest awhile"…In this grief war,  He is also our highly skilled "Medic"…Best to follow His advice...


Saturday, August 9, 2014

FOCUS ON ETERNAL JOY




"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

I've been thinking of this verse a lot lately. I believe it presupposes one has "HOPE"…how can we have this Rx toward better thinking, if future thinking didn't have a positive outcome?
I used to just think of this verse only in terms of: 
Mortal=Seen vs. Immortal=Unseen. 
My children before transitioning=Seen/Temporary; My children after transitioning=Unseen/Eternal
Another way I now look at this verse is: We can "see" the "unseen"- when we grasp the signs and winks our children may give us. "Signs","Winks" and "Visits", are an example of a"temporary"  physical link to us vs.our upcoming "eternal" (and not separable) linkage. 
If I only fix my eyes on seeing things of "destruction" though... I won't be able to see the "repair and restoration" that God promises us. What I focus on, greatly determines how I'm going to feel on any particular day.
What may seem eternal, is the suffering one experiences after our child physically dies. The excruciating pain does seem to be endless, for awhile.
Thankfully, our Physician does  know how to bind up our wounds:
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

It greatly helps me not to feel myself or my children got "cheated"…by thinking about what the first verse mentioned really tells me. All the "But they didn't do this, or get to have that experience", etc, are laments about temporary things of this world…I firmly believe my children have the Version 2.0 of whatever holds any real and lasting value. God's not a skinflint. If it's important for them to have, God will provide it. If God says it's not necessary for them to have up there…why should I sweat it? "Don't sweat the details" has a whole new meaning for me-since my children (and husband) transitioned.

I didn't use to feel that firm in my convictions, of course early on. I had all of the tears and wailings of all things considered "eternally" lost. For me and for them.

But that is where I made my mistake. My kids, our kids, have gone HIGHER not lower. Have MORE not less. Have more than sufficient! 

I believe that God is "Exuberantly Generous". I heard someone use that description about God, and I love it!

Think of the glorious future we have with our children in Heaven! 

As Jesus so frequently tells us, His worried and weary sheep…

"So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom." 

(luke 12:32 (New Living Translation)

Now let's think on that! 







Monday, August 4, 2014

CHRIST'S EMPATHY

I get very turned off, when I hear God being referred to, as some egotistical Super Being, yielding THE LAW as a heavy book to whack the heads of us errant sinners.

I believe that Jesus suffered and died on the cross…for US…not to satisfy some kind of equation about sin and redemption and equaling the score of things…

In the parable of The Prodigal Son, the father RUNS toward the errant child, just as soon as the child turns the corner. The father showers the returning son with lavish gifts of love and generosity. There's not one word of essentially, "You did X…now Y has to be satisfied as retribution." All that mattered, was that the Father had the son back in His loving and forgiving arms again.

Fire and brimstone and damnation lectures rarely heal the trembling. Only love can cross the divide between good and evil actions to effect healing.

I will never believe that Jesus died on the cross to "even the score"…I do believe though, that He did "pay the penalty for our sins". Not because He was forced to-out of some legality--but because out of Love, He agreed to.

Because He never sinned-he never should have suffered. But He is our example of how the "just" suffer from the sinful actions of others.

I watched a documentary on TV once, where a gang member spoke of whom he felt "understood" him the most.

"I want to talk to people who've bled like I've bled" he said. Obviously, someone who could relate to his suffering, having suffered in the same way he had.

Support groups are helpful because people with the same suffering, come together to share their common struggles. There's a special kind of healing camaraderie that occurs, when one is among one's own "kind"…knowing the other person "gets" what their suffering is all about…

And that is why I think Jesus was crucified. Not to satisfy any monarchial demands of the Father…but purely flowing from the Love of the Father, wanting us beloved mortals to have someone to identify with in our earthly suffering….Someone who has "bled, like we have bled."


FORGIVING GOD



Yes, God is a forgiving God…But I had to, in essence, "forgive" God, after the death of my two children and husband, from the auto wreck we were all involved in…

I felt the greatest sense of peaceful surrender, after I finally faced my real and perceived human "inadequacies"…and asked God to forgive me. Back then, everything was black and white…and yet somehow in the boldest Technicolor, all at the same time in my thinking…

Those woulda-coulda- shoulda "gotcha's", were the absolute pits. By finally hitting my rock bottom emotionally, I just finally gave up fighting, and leaned on the forgiveness of Jesus, out of desperation. That seemed to jumpstart my real journeying toward healing the raw wound of tremendous loss.

I think, in a way I also had to forgive God…for allowing the wreck to happen. A split second difference, would have prevented the wreck from even occurring. The woulda-coulda-shoulda's also applied to my situation in regard to God's timing…

     "Couldn't you have just made one vehicle a little later or earlier so as not to meet at that intersection?"
      "Would you have allowed the wreck to happen had I not been "strong" enough to handle?"
      "Shouldn't that  other driver been held more accountable- more than receiving essentially just a hand slap- for all the carnage he caused?"

Lurking beneath my "All men have free will choice-God doesn't make us robots" reasoning why the wreck happened, was the age old question of "Why did You "allow" this to happen?" "Why no miracle"?

I had to forgive God, too, even though I consciously didn't see it as that.

As is commonly said, we really don't have the full picture of the future, as does God. He "allowed" the wreck to kill the physical bodies of my family even though He is All-Powerful. He is also "Omniscient"-all knowing- and that is where I have to place my trust in His allowances. That, and the fact that He is the author of Love itself, and so acts entirely out of Love…in everything permitted…even as difficult to fathom as that may be, to my mere mortal reasoning and understanding.

Trusting God is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves--it is the only "answer" when there are no answers. It is what sustains me when I cannot see the way forward. God-being God- alone can be100% trusted!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

SAVIOR FROM UNRELENTING GRIEF



"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope."
(1 Thessolonians 4:13)

A Christian mother who is bereaved of her child (children), has every reason why not 
to  "grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope"... Because we DO have hope…more of an assurance from God, actually. Our children are STILL ALIVE. Their physical bodies are dead, but their souls--that which more importantly makes them uniquely "them"…are STILL ALIVE

I think it takes a mother a very long time to say "goodbye"…At first, I was frantic to keep anything remaining of their physical body, or having had contact with their body. I smelled clothing, gathered hair from hairbrushes, touched and held onto toys they touched and held onto…Pictures were agonizing to look at, yet clutched onto...I just could not accept their physical death.

I fretted about their bodies, buried underground during the cold winter. It was hard for me to stop worrying and fretting about such things... Mothers are hard-wired to be 100% all about caring for their babies' physical and emotional needs. Innate nurturing  desires, don't just automatically extinguish, when our child transitions.

When I was able to "let them go" to God, finally, it was really a letting go of the frantic, mothering need to have their physical bodies with me and nurtured. It wasn't until later on, that I started feeling gratitude toward God, for receiving them into His glorious Kingdom.

My children were very young when they transitioned. And I prefer to use the word "transitioned",  because they are STILL ALIVE. They are not completely dead…only their physical bodies are "dead". What's the most vitally important to me, is that they are truly STILL ALIVE. Length of time we have our precious children, in no way determines the amount of suffering we experience, after they transition. It is widely understood that miscarriages and stillborn babies are among the utmost painful of losses.

It's a commonly held misbelief after a child transitions,  that outward and visible grieving, is equal to the inner, private love, a mother has for her child. Society doesn't help much, with its reinforcing, of this faulty equation. An overabundance of love…does NOT = an overabundance of unrelenting misery and grief. Now, almost 30 years since Michael and Lisa transitioned, I've discovered a sure-fire way to get inquisitive looks. All I need do, is to  talk freely- and with Christian conviction- about my physically deceased children "being in Heaven, with God." Some are quick to change the topic, seemingly for fear that I will soon dissolve into a sea of uncomfortable sobbing. When that does not happen, they look a little confused. And honestly, I cannot blame them. Most of us are only familiar with "the norm…i.e. "Mom cannot talk about her transitioned child, without becoming speechless from unresolved grief." 


I feel at times, misunderstood and judged because I am now feel "OK"- after much previous turmoil- that my children are eternally safe now, and joyful with Jesus. 

The kind of attitude I am presented with by other bereaved Moms, is often a variation of….

"I am NOT OK"! I will NEVER be "OK" with my child's death!" I LOVE them too much to be "OK" about the fact they went to Heaven!" and then the ouch factor..."I will NEVER stop loving and missing my child!"

I used to feel conflicted…because  I, too, dearly love and adore-and miss- my children now with Jesus. I loved them full-force-max before they transitioned, and I love them full-force- max now!  Hearing a bereaved Mom, equating the amount of suffering undergone- and unrelentingly continuing- as proof and testament to her love for her child, can be kind of hurtful to somebody like me who has made peace, with the now fully digested truth, that my children are with Jesus in Paradise. And I STILL love and miss my children. 

Peace finally came to me, when I was finally able to realize in my heart, that my loss was truly their gain. I had been filled with prior feelings of resentment and feeling cheated-for both them and me-in regard to what I later realized as "earthly" desires.

Is it that big a deal, that Lisa never dated and married…when she has Jesus for her eternal spouse? She never had her own children. BUT…she now loves everyone with the purest kind of love that one can have. Isn't that the essence of being a mother?  And so I've come up with answers in a similar manner to all the prior, "I think we got cheated!" kind of feeling I previously had.

God Restores. That concept, was given to me by the Holy Spirit,  while recovering in my hospital bed after the wreck. It was a  "Word of Knowledge".  At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with this new word, "Restoration." God always knows in advance, what to give us for future struggles as a help and an aid. Whether we realize that at the time, is irrelevant. 

There came a time for me, when my Christian beliefs, outran my near despair over my childrens' physical death.

Jesus asks us what we're doing any differently than anyone else, when we are friendly and kind--only to those always friendly and kind to us. I feel it's the same kind of thinking in regard to grief. As a Christian, how is my long range grief, any different than those who have "no hope"? Jesus expects me to believe His promises, and that is a guarantee that my bereavement-although painful-is temporary.

Should I be forever in unrelenting, near despair sorrow when my child physically dies? Key words "forever and unrelenting"…At first, it is impossible not to feel overwhelming, incapacitating and unrelenting grief. But I believe that at some point, our Christian beliefs must kick into gear and free us, because we choose to remember and truly BELIEVE what our Christian truths tell us. And there's no room for utter, despondent, unrelenting despair--if we truly recall and BELIEVE. This follows no timetable. But I feel that there is a choice to be made- at some point- in every bereaved  Mom's journey, where she will need to make a choice. Choose life, or death. Believe our child  is STILL TRULY ALIVE (and happy!) or deader than a doorknob and we're never going to see that child ever again. Ever. 

That's the difference I feel,  between those who grieve and have no hope…and Christians. Our hope is what sustains us and gives us the God-given Strength, to carry on as good soldiers of Christ. He's our Commander in Chief. He gives us the command and we respond for our own good, and the good of others we share on our earthly journey.

How can I unrelentingly grieve, when I firmly believe in my heart and soul, that my children are with Jesus in Paradise? How could I want them to return to this vale of tears-this war zone called earthly life-when they have reached the summit of joy and perfection by being with God? And I want them back here with me on earth…why again?

As a Christian believer, I BELIEVE that I will be with my kids again, who are now, essentially, enjoying their "winning the lottery"…They are  more than OK, and if I ever start to waffle back to earthly concerns, only need to remind myself of the beautiful, bountiful assurance that Jesus tells us, of crossing over into "Paradise."

And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43)






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