Saturday, April 1, 2017

Not What I Expected

    Being a bereaved parent is not what I expected, starting with the fact that I didn't expect to be a bereaved parent. Who does that?! I mean, no one EXPECTS to be faced with burying their child. We, as new parents, are so focused on making sure we provide a strong childhood and upbringing to our new child that we refuse to allow those darker thoughts to enter our minds. We don't even want to take up the offer we all get in the mail to sign up our new babies for Gerber's Life Insurance that pays us if our child dies. WHO DOES THAT?! Yes, it would have been smart for us to do that, wish we had.
Our Rainbow, Cheyenne

    Then when we were faced with burying our second child, we found ourselves without that baby life insurance again. Then, when we had our HEALTHY third child, we STIL DID NOT DO IT! This time we knew he was healthy, so we didn't want to risk taunting Death. The point is that as a human race, it is natural for us to be positive and hopeful in our daily lives, more so when parenting our children, so when we find ourselves living what we never expected, we are not prepared.

Our Froggie, Emily.

    It's been nearly 20 years since our oldest, Cheyenne, passed. A few less since we lost Emily. We have been living the cliche "Life goes on" journey. Our son is nearly 11 now, healthy and loved, if not a bit spoiled. Yes, we have good days... even GREAT days. I thank God for those days. They are needed to balance those days that will never go away. Those days that hit without warning, unexpectedly. There are lots of things that happen that we don't expect when our children die. How we react to them will determine how our lives unfold after our children die. Below is a list of a few of those unexpected things, and the reactive choices we are faced with. The trick for a grieving parent is to choose wisely so our lives will have opportunities for greatness again.

    I didn't expect that the grief process after loosing Emily, our second child to bury, would move faster, or be easier. At times I didn't think it did, but it did. Each day we were faced with the returning pain, and we had to choose to reject it or embrace it. By embracing it, we were in (a bit) more control. We used it to recognize the love we still have for our girls. We used it to recognize our own strength and ability to get through it as experienced bereaved parents. Then we could (still can) face each day knowing we are better for having known and loved our children. We are better and stronger than most other people.

   I didn't expect to be faced with the almost celebrity style respect and admiration we often get from others who "can't imagine" what we live with. I don't like it, it makes me very uncomfortable because I'd rather have my girls back. I know they just want to help us see how strong we are, but it's weird.

   I didn't expect to ever feel whole again, but I do... usually. I've learned that what Patrick Swayze said in "Ghost" is true... "The love stays with you". The love is them, still here, just in a different form. So I take it and run with it. I remind myself that I am a better person for having been their mom, and that means I AM WHOLE, despite the fact that my heart is not.

   I didn't expect... get ready... to hear my husband say the loss of his mom is more difficult than burying his two little girls. WHAT???!!!! Yes, it's true. HOW????? ...the pain of loss is built up of the memories and the relationship shared. They had a VERY SPECIAL and very rare mother son bond, built on 57 years of life together. It's hard to explain, harder to understand, but I think I'm getting it.

   Everyone grieves differently, based on the relationship, and how it was left at the time of the death. We can prepare all we want, or ignore all the signs telling us we need to prepare. Either way, death comes to us all. How we choose to live with it will define how our lives unfold. I miss my girls more than words can say. Anyone who has buried their child knows this gut wrenching misery. There was a time when I feared this day, the day I would say that my girls are JUST PART OF MY JOURNEY. The day that I would say my life is MORE than being their mom. I didn't expect I could ever say this. ...but I do now, and it's OK. It has not lessened the love or weakened the memories one bit. The LOVE never dies, so neither do they.