Sunday, October 28, 2018

"WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE"


"Wanted Dead or Alive," the old song sung by the group Bon Jovi, has made me think closely about that title choice, from the bereaved mom viewpoint. I certainly wanted my children and husband back in any way, shape or form I could have them. Heck, I was ecstatic finding some of Lisa's hair in her old hairbrush one day long ago. But "Dead or Alive" seems to me rather redundant phraseology. Because "dead" refers only to the physical body being dead and not the most important "me" part of us--our soul. That can never die. Our souls are safely held by God in secure, vault-like safety because of His over-reaching Omnipotence:
   
 "I give them eternal life, and they can never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one will snatch them out of the Father's hand."  (John 10:28-29)

There's no room for doubt in what He says there. My husband and children's souls, all our souls, are safe with God. Any matter of destruction may come to us physically, sometimes with resultant  physical death (like with my family) BUT their souls, all souls of the departed are still unscathed and untouched by the errors of humans. Because of God's Omnipotence, nobody can do anything to us unless it is allowed from above. No matter how awful, there's a reason why something bad's been allowed to happen to us or to our loved ones. I've been so relieved these 30 plus years, trusting that God had a reason why my husband, son and daughter all died instantly in a senseless crash . . . and why I survived.

Speaking about "survival," we had a visit by our Presiding Bishop (Episcopal church) who made a comment I thought befitting for us, bereaved parents. Talking about our departing rector and upcoming "change," she said essentially that after a wound, scar tissue will form. But . . . The important thing is . . . "Scar tissue is always tougher than regular skin." 

That's how I feel, that bereaved moms and dads are tough. I've Constant repetition of our "triggers" caused scar tissue to form over wounded areas. And sensitivity to painful stimuli has been lost in those areas that are now substantially more tough and thick. Amen to that!

We're a tough lot, us bereaved. When I go in for weekly accupuncture treatments, my nurse asks me every time in a monotone voice,  a few routine questions asked all patients,
    
 "Has anyone punched, slapped, hit or otherwise physically hurt you in the past week?"
   
 I guess domestic violence is pretty prevalent, unfortunately. But what about emotional abuse? I've read that can be even worse than physical abuse in a troubled relationship.

As far as I feel, there's no greater emotional pain and heart-stabber than the loss of children; the emotional equivalent of being on Death Row. The ultimate faith-questioner and the greatest potential for spiritual growth due to the extreme flexing of all our resources to cope.

The Bishop said something funny to conclude her sermon last week. I think it's appropriate for bereaved parents facing "change," too.
   
 "Nobody likes change. Except of course, "wet" babies!"

Thankfully, we have a Saviour Who knows all about profound loss and bountiful gain, and how to help us make the best of it.   



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Sunday, September 16, 2018

MICHAEL AND NUMBER 36



So many more birthdays have come and gone than the last one I had  with Michael. That one, he turned the big "Two." Today, I'm marking his number 36th in Earth-years. It's mind-boggling to me. Even still, the questions come: "What would he have wanted for his birthday gift?" What would he have even liked that I could make a choice from? His last favorite toy was his Sesame Street themed "Ernie" stuffed toy. Now, at 36 had he still lived on Earth, he would have likely had kids of his own to buy toys for.

Unlike so many, I'm going to break tradition here and say it has gotten easier. Gone are the deep and painful grief stabs at every point. Gone are the questions; "Are they ok?" "Where did they go?" "Will they still remember me?" "Will I always feel this bad?" I still miss them, of course, that just goes with the territory when you truly love someone who's gone for an extended stay. But with age comes familiarity and with familiarity comes a lessening of the surprise attack of shock-like jolts of unrelenting pain that would ease up, only to come back again from yet another newly discovered trigger to my grief.

My son by remarriage has gone through such a troubled life, that I secretly wonder if Michael and Lisa have been spared from the generational effect of my having grown up in a dysfunctional home. Over the years I've grown in my appreciation of the fact that Michael and Lisa have not had to go through the angst of growing up in a world that increasingly shuts God out. Even to the point where there's been talk about  removing "In God We Trust," from our coinage. With so much atrociousness in the world, the fact that Michael and Lisa are safe and secure in Heaven for eternity has grown increasingly comforting to me instead of repugnant. As I've grown and matured, the distance between us all seems less and less. Eventually, that distance will dwindle to nothing, as, God willing, I'm reunited with them when I transition into Paradise. Until then, I (try to) "patiently endure."
 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAREST MICHAEL MOUSE!~ I LOVE YOU (and Lisa and Tim!)   Mom
                                                 

Monday, July 30, 2018

PSALM 137





Part of psalm 137 (NIV verse 4) explains how I feel today.
    
          "How can we sing the songs of the Lord while 
in a foreign land?"

Yesterday in church (Episcopal), it was announced that a long-time parishioner had yet another recurrence of his cancer. This time, things look particularly grim and survival not expected. A collective gasp of sadness and worry emanated from our group.   Myself included.

But then in my mind I countered this sadness with  Jesus' own words:
         
 . . .  "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." 
(NIV Lk 23:43).

 It's not just a coincidence that Jesus was telling this to someone described as a "thief;" one of two thieves ("takers") suffering crucifixion agony alongside Jesus ("a giver.") One had no dying repentance. The other, this so-called "Good Thief" was repentant, asking Jesus to remember Him when He entered His kingdom.

The good thief was no saint, yet he was told by Jesus as directly as possible, that he WOULD be with Him in Paradise right away-- and as a matter of fact, how about "today?" Not after lengthy groveling before a decree is handed down. No begging. No, none of that. "Today."


The Nicene Creed has been around since the 4th century. So the concept of life everlasting with a resurrected body in glory is not some johnny-come-lately idea. In my church we profess the Creed every Sunday without fail. So why do I feel so lousy today? 

I feel, again, like "odd man out" because I never heard anything to counter the negativity associated with this beloved parishioner's imminent death. It was as if we were non-Christians sitting there. My attempts later on to talk of our mutual (is it mutual??) belief that this decorated WWII hero, a pillar of our small church community, will be after death, merely sliding right over to a place of light, joy ("I think it's almost like a party going on up there!") and with Jesus, met with silence. And counters. And frankly, I expect more from my long-time Christian friends. Am I the only one out there that feels almost  a tad of excitement for the desperately ill and suffering ones, soon to transition and be with Jesus in Paradise?

I know, I know,  there's a period (usually quite lengthy ie. particularly with child bereavement) of intense sadness, loss and near-despair. Losing two children and my college sweetheart in an instant taught me that pretty well. But . . . there's a yin to the yang of horrific loss--it's called remembering and believing Luke 23:43 (that verse above) and what the Nicene Creed says about the resurrection of the body and "life" of the world to come.

    (I like the Catholic wording of the last line of the Nicene Creed better: "And I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.") (Italics mine).

The Nicene Creed (episcopalchurch.org)
   We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made man.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
   He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.



Peace be with you!
Donna























       




 

Monday, July 16, 2018

ONE QUESTION



"Am I going to feel this miserable for the rest of my life?" That was the question that, after the initial bereavement shock and numbness wore off, I would wake up with and go to bed with and constantly grapple with all day long. How could I go on? How could I face a life of day after day, non-stop bereavement pain? There wasn't anywhere I could hide where "it" wouldn't find me. 

One day, I'd be all steadfast faith; convinced of their eternal joy. Then the next day, my faith would evaporate the second I saw a child that was around my toddler boy or baby girl's age. Or a young guy around my husband's age. My faith was strong enough, all right. Strong until another trigger slammed me down to my knees. Like a wobbling fighter in the ring,  one more good right hook took me down. Very down. But God provided a way out.

They were mother and daughter. (The daughter was near my age.) Both had experienced child bereavement and now both were "mentoring" me after my own bereavement. Only one had Faith that I could survive, though.  The other prayed I'd never wake up from my post-accident surgery, to spare me from what she endured.  It scared me, all the talk I heard around me, from some moms who'd trod the path for so long. How, "The horrible pain never stops!"  "It never gets better!" Scary stuff! What my future would be like?

Don't listen to anyone who is ultimately discrediting God's ability to save you from bereavement's stabbing pain. Even if they've been on the journey a long time and other things they've said have been helpful.  Your path is your own. And you can survive! You can regain a life without constant horror. Give it to God to "fix." Let Him handle it. Then step back. Expect to receive. (Even if it's a teeny-weeny faith-expectation--at least, you're trying!)

I'm glad I decided to follow the example of the mother--not the daughter. Only one of those two led me closer to Jesus and the glimmering of a way out of gloom. I took her hand, weakly trusting He knew the way out. What happened afterward?

 "He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." (NIV Psalm 18:19).

Don't get all hung up on "Because he delighted in me." It only takes a tiny mustard seed amount of faith to "delight" God. Maybe that's all we can come up with under such intense pain . . . but it's enough to change our world for the better. Peace, Donna


Friday, June 15, 2018

MY BOOK




After 2 years of sporadic at times yet intense work, my book (in print and Kindle version) is finally done and is up on Amazon now. It’s been a labor of “tough love.” I anticipated being able to finish writing this book in the several months hiatus from my library bookstore volunteer job. What people don’t tell first-time writers though, is that you basically, write the same book over and over again as you find your written “voice” and learn new skills as you progress. Which means going back to the beginning again and refreshing your previously written work with your new writing knowledge. Again and again!

After some soul-searching, I decided I would change identifying details out of consideration for the fact that "the impossible" has happened with me, more than one time. Other than names and places, everything else is true. My goal with this book is not to make money, but to somehow, some way help others that are either struggling with bereavement or know someone who is. 

What I learned from writing this book, is a reemphasis of how much God help helped me, and how I’ve changed over the years after my family’s transition into Heaven. Gone (thankfully!) are the long stretches of near-despair; the feeling that they (us!) were “cheated” out of life’s joy, etc. I feel acceptance of God “allowing” their physical death and have complete reassurance in my mind that they are with Jesus in our Father’s heavenly abode. Trusting in God (sometimes akin to leaping  blindfolded into hopefully waiting and open, secure arms) was how I got to this place of peace. Everything I needed was initiated first, by trusting God. He delivered. That's not to say I don't feel sad at times, of course. But I've also learned that I cannot stay in that spot, because I get sucked under like quicksand the longer my feet stay there. I learned I had to reach out my hand for help.

Peace! Donna 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

THE STRAIGHTAWAY


THE PROGRESSION OR MY BEREAVEMENT JOURNEY:

 Photo 1: In the very beginning of my grief journey after losing my family, all I could see was scorched ground. I couldn't lift my head up and saw nothing but earthly destruction.

 Photo 2: After a period of time I could lift up my head and look beyond the earthly destruction to see renewal possible, but struggled with the fullness of their joyful existence without me, without the life they could have had. We could (should?) have had.


Photo 3: When healing progressed, I saw renewal of health, and growth --for both myself and my deceased ones. But I couldn't reach them; there were so many obstacles in my way, such a long way to go before I could see them easily again. But blue skies were definitely present among the clouds.


Photo 4: It's now a feeling of a "straight shot" right to them but it's still aways off and how much longer does the road continue on? The obstacles separated are offset by the gorgeous blue sky that is shining through and illuminating my path forward towards them. I remind myself, "Keep trudging along the road and you will get there eventually--guaranteed!" All roads intersect at a level where we mortals cannot perceive. God, the great architect of the universe, has made all things united.

   



Thursday, March 1, 2018

NEW BIRTHDAY TRADITION

Lisa's last portrait. (Nine months young.)

~~~ HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY LITTLE LEPRECHAUN!~~~

Today, March 1st, is Lisa's birthday. She was only 9 and a half months young when she went to Heaven, along with her big brother Michael (2 yrs. 3 mos.) and their Daddy. Had she stayed here on Earth, she'd be 34 years old! Today I decided on a new tradition to honor my family. 

This also being the birthday of a friend of mine, I was busy picking out and sending her one of the online greeting cards she and I get a kick out of sending each other. It suddenly dawned on me . . . why not pick out a birthday card for Lisa? One of the "talking" cards that she can listen to. Why hadn't I thought of doing this before? 
     
I scoured through the cards to pick one out as if she were merely living in a different state. (Which technically she is, now living in a Spiritual "state.") I found just the right card. A cute one with a cat in a rainbow wig. Funny, that cat exactly resembled the cat in the photo I have of Lisa smiling at a cat on our doorstep. That one was a grey tabby . . . just like this one on the card! That rainbow wig the cat on the card is wearing  . . . that's the same kind Michael had once worn with a Halloween costume! Humph, kinda strange, this one card having two similarities like that.

I used every last one of the allotted characters when typing out what my chosen female voice would say to Lisa. The additional, written "personalized note" was also carefully worded. I then "previewed" the card, listening to the playback two times. I felt Lisa with me, listening too. Even though I believe that loved ones are always around us Spiritually, sometimes their presence is just sensed more easily than at other times. For me, that's on bittersweet days. 

I'm planning to send Michael and Tim a talking card on their birthdays now, too. And maybe I won't stop at just their birthdays. Why don't I send them a card just as I would've had they not left for Heaven? 

Thank you, God for giving me the idea of how I can send smiles across miles.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

IT'S OK TO BE DIFFERENT


In the bereaved parent world, there's a ton of "They'll never do this" and "They'll never do that." I've often felt like the oddball out because I'm hanging on for dear life to my Christian beliefs. But even Jesus got laughed at when he told the grieving many to stop their despair;  the young girl wasn't dead, she was just "asleep."

"Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep." (NIV Lk 8:52).

People who are asleep are still alive. They aren't responding to others around them like when they're not asleep, but they definitely aren't dead.

After the most recent mass school shooting, our President had words of comfort for the bereaved parents. He started his speech by including God but then quickly went into the typical lamenting of those focused only on loss. The fact that their lives were taken from them; their not getting/seeing/doing all the things parents wished they'd had the chance to. Lives cut short.

Where is God Soverign in all those statements? How is this helpful to hear? If someone recently suffers limb amputation, do we tell them all that they now cannot do? What they've missed out on? Why then do bereaved parents constantly have to be slammed down into non-helpful lamenting? Redirecting our thinking from an earthly to a Heavenly perspective, takes conscious effort in the beginning. Like with anything, it gets much more automatic with constant practice. It's well worth the effort. Despite what Society constantly throws in our face about what's important to focus on, those who believe in God can focus on what He tells us is true.

No life is shorter than what God has allowed it to be. Nobody takes our lives away unless God haas determined that person's work is over (no matter how short--even miscarriages, in my belief). My daughter's work was over while still a baby. My son, while still a toddler. Either God's All-Powerful or He's not. Someone All-Powerful cannot be overpowered by anyone. He alone determines when our work is over and our stress-free Life begins.

So to me, it's nonsensical for me to lament that my children didn't get to do this earthly thing, or that earthly thing. Because I believe our existence in Heaven is bigger than all that. I really don't think any of our earthly happiness can compare to what they're experiencing in their new Lives. It's like complaining they didn't get to play in the sand box . . . when now they're busy exploring the whole universe. It. Just. Doesn't. Matter. Admittedly, it took me a long time to get to this viewpoint (I'm currently 30+ years post-wreck). During most of my bereavement I'd constantly felt like my family had been cheated, but I'm sure glad  I came to the conclusion that God, being God, has to be fair.  I've  changed my focus from "They didn't get to" to "Look at all they have!"

Different can be bright.
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