"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."
(NIV)

This is a blog about widows,
mothers and daughters,
facing change and challenges
and receiving ordinary, everyday blessings that don't seem quite so ordinary anymore.
It chronicles the journey from grief into the restoration of what has been lost.

*** I am no longer actively posting to this site, so please come visit me at my new site ***

http://www.jrrmblog.com/ - "Starting Over ... Again"

Showing posts with label grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grief. Show all posts

Thursday, June 19, 2014

At the Three Year Mark

Well, today marks three years since my husband died.  Three years that sometimes seems to have been an eternity, and other times seems to have gone by in a heartbeat.  Depends on which day you ask me.


As I was driving home from work last night around 10 p.m. I suddenly felt very quiet inside, and a little empty.  The very next song that came on the radio made me tear up a bit.  I didn't know what was wrong with me.  It's not "that time of the month!"


During the drive home (it's a 30 min drive) I thought about what might be causing this sudden melancholy.  As I tried to shake this feeling, I switched gears to thinking about the rest of the week and what I had planned.  Then it dawned on me - today is the 18th of June.  And that meant that tomorrow (well, today as I write this) is June 19th.


THE day. 
June 19th, 2011 - Father's Day, that year.

They say that your conscious mind may not remember right away, but your body remembers.  Your unconscious always remembers; always keeps track of the days and dates.  And even though I don't mark time now quite the same way that I have over the past few years, I still am brought face to face with certain days - whether I want to be or not.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

What To Say ... And What Not to Say ... To Someone Who Is Grieving.

I am always on the lookout for great posts and articles to share about grief, grieving and resources out there for folks who are in the grief process.  (And it is a PROCESS.)

Here is a blog post that I stumbled across on Pinterest.  I can't wait to share it with you, because it is a great post about what to say and what NOT to say to someone who is grieving.

So many people struggle with this.  I know that so many of our friends and family didn't know what to say or do after my husband's death a few years ago.  It's hard to know what is the "right" thing to say - something that will comfort in some way, and not add to the burden or sadness.

This post says it clearly and concisely.  It's what I have tried to convey, both in speaking to friends/family and in this blog.

Here is the blog post, from the "I Think We Could Be Friends" blog.

I hope this helps someone to better understand how to help someone who is grieving, and relieves some of the awkwardness that might be felt when we simply don't know what to say.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Educators Need To Be Educated About Grief in Children

The topic of kids and grief, and the teachers that teach these grieving children is a subject near and dear to my heart.  After the death of my husband over 2 years ago, we have experienced the need for teachers to be better educated about dealing with grieving kids first-hand.

Last year my youngest daughter had a hard time in school.  Her first year following her father's death was difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as the year that was to follow.  That second year she "hit a wall" in many ways, and the biggest obstacle was her grief.  What made it so hard on my daughter was her teacher's inability to understand my daughter's grief, and to recognize it for what it was.

I feel strongly that teachers need to be better educated about grief in children; how to recognize it, and how to help the child deal with those feelings.

Here is a great PDF for teachers about that very thing.

It's from the New York Life Foundation website, and that site is packed with lots of resources for teachers and parents.

Brookes Publishing has a link on that site to a book called "The Grieving Student - A Teacher's Guide."  I am considering buying a copy (or two) for the teachers at my daughter's school.

It's not difficult for teacher's to learn more about grief in children, and the signs and symptoms exhibited by grieving children.  I know that most of our teachers put in a great deal of time and effort to be equipped to help our kids.  I am not trying to add to their pile of work.

But a little time to become educated about grief in children, its signs and symptoms, and how to assist a child through this most difficult of times is time well spent.  Children need a strong support system, and the more caring adults they have to turn to - the better.  :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pediatricians Can Be Helpful with Children's Grief

This is a great article about how helpful a child's pediatrician can be when dealing with grief.  It's important that the pediatrician be "dialed in" to the child's needs during that time, and be an additional caring adult in that child's life that the child can talk to about the emotions with which they are dealing.

We are very fortunate to have a family doctor that is very helpful in this respect.  He is very careful to look out for ALL of us in our emotional health, as well as our physical health.  He knows that there are physical aspects to grieving, and there are emotional aspects - and the two can overlap at times.  A physical reaction or symptom may well have an emotional cause.

So here is the link to the article.

"This presentation is important for 2 reasons: first, parents often look to pediatricians for guidance, and, second, children's physical symptoms can be manifestations of grief."



Friday, November 1, 2013

"A Crash Course in Grief Recover"

New Book Gives Readers ‘A CRASH COURSE IN Grief Recovery’

Author Tom Lord offers a guide to dealing with tragedy and loss and inner healing.

I just wanted to share with you a new book that I saw advertised.  It can be found at Barnes and Noble, or on Amazon.com.

I may have to read this myself, just to check out what he has to say.  It's written by a man who has spent his whole life helping families during their season of grief.

Click on this link to learn more about the book.



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Caregiver Advice - Caring For A Loved One With A Brain Tumor


I came across an article today that I felt said a great deal about what it's like to be the caregiver for a family member that is faced with a brain tumor.  Even though it was written about Alzheimer patients and their caregivers, it very clearly expresses what the caregivers of brain tumor (especially GBM, or glioblastoma multiforme) patients experience as well.



"Family caregivers assisting a person with deteriorating brain functions experience several common emotions during the middle to later stages of this disease. The person closest to the ill person may feel guilt for past misunderstandings that can not be resolved now, sadness as he no longer sees his loved one showing the recognition of his presence that accompanied their earlier relationship, sadness as each ability to care for themselves is diminished.
The family caregiver moves through stages of denial, anger at the "roll of the dice" that made their loved one vulnerable to this disease, questioning of their faith, anxiety about his future and his ability to deal with the challenges ahead, fear of the financial burden caused by long term care and embarrassment over changing behaviors of the ill person.
Support group meetings offer families an opportunity to express these concerns in a safe environment where other caregivers will understand and perhaps offer hope for the future...a changed family dynamic where people make adjustments in their roles, find sources of strength, accept the physical and mental losses that accompany this disease and know that they are not alone."


Here's the link to the story.

There is such a storm of emotions that you experience on a daily basis.  So many changes in daily routines that need to be addressed, doctor appointments, medications that need to be administered, prescriptions that need to be filled, medical forms and releases to be filled out, insurance statements to organize and medical bills to pay ... and then the added stress of taking care of the needs of children and other family members.  Keeping extended family and friends updated on the condition of your loved one, maintaining a presence at your job (since you are now the breadwinner of the family, and disability payments don't kick in for 6 months after the diagnosis), etc.  It's overwhelming, to say the least.

I can only look back, from the vantage point of 3+ years later, and say that I could not have done what I had to do without God's help.  The sensation of being "carried" through that period of time is one that lives in my memory.  Not that I and my family weren't experiencing all that was happening to us and around us - we most certainly felt the heartbreak and confusion of dealing with all that GBM's can dish out as they tear through the brain - but even when things seemed the worst, there was the sense of unseen support.

If you are struggling with issues as a caregiver, make sure that you surround yourself with a support team for yourself.  You will need to have people that you can call on; whether that's to talk to over a cup of coffee, come and stay with your loved one while you run to the story or the pharmacy, pick your child up from school or take them to soccer, etc.  Sometimes it difficult to talk openly to people about what is happening in your family and in your life at this time.  But it's very important that you take advantage of your resources, in order to keep yourself from burning out.

You owe it to your loved one to be the best caregiver that you can be for them.  You are stronger than you realize, but remember that you don't have to go it alone!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Issues in the classroom for grieving kids



My youngest daughter had a rough time last year in school.  It was a combination of several things, but the underlying reason was that she was still dealing with grief ... even though it was hard to tell that from how she looked or acted.

Her teacher said she always seemed happy enough to be at school, so she had a hard time accepting the fact that my daughter was actually suffering from some depression during the year.  The teacher's request - have her tested for ADHD.  Why do so many teachers just naturally go THERE?!?!  Sure, my daughter was having trouble focusing at times in school, but her physician and two therapists both confirmed that this was NOT a child who was ADHD.  It was grief.  But the school and the school's Special Ed "specialist" didn't really buy into that.  So last year was a little discouraging and stressful for both of us.

This year?  Things seem to be on a totally different track.  She's in 5th grade, with a more experienced teacher, who is disciplined yet makes it fun to learn.  The change in my daughter has been great!  I am sure her teacher is not the ONLY reason for the change; I know that my daughter has worked through much of her grief issues, and seeing a therapist a couple times a month has helped a great deal.  But it's been great to see her begin to blossom again, and be encouraged about school again - instead of being beaten down each day, and come home with her shoulders slumped and a discouraged look on her face.

I guess my point in writing this post is this:  kids you are grieving have different needs in the classroom, and teachers need to be able to understand the grieving process in kids and facilitate their learning during this time.  It's not uncommon for kids who are grieving to be distracted; anyone who has grieved can tell you that it's hard work!  It takes a tremendous amount of emotional and mental energy to cope with grieving the loss of a loved one AND to function as a normal person on a day to day basis.  Add into that the stress of a classroom filled with kids and teachers who don't "get" what you're going through - and no wonder grieving kids seem "spacey" and "out of it" at times.

And the worst part was being told that, "It's been a year.  She should be over it by now."

Grief is not experienced on a timetable.  There is no fixed time limit for grief - we all grieve differently, and at our own pace.

If you are the parent of a grieving child, you may be called upon to be their advocate when it comes to the school system.  Many schools are very helpful (and most try to be helpful) but you may need to educate a few teachers and administrators (and yes, even the occasional special education specialist) about how a child grieves, what is normal, etc.

Stand up for your child, and make sure that they aren't being unfairly labeled.  Make sure that their needs are being met in the classroom.  Don't be afraid to speak up! 

And let me assure you - it does get better!

Oh, and just a side note:  neither last year's teacher nor the Special Ed "specialist" are employed at my daughter's school this year.  Both have moved on to other schools.  I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS!  But I know God did ... I have prayed that anyone who did not have my child's best interests in mind would be removed from her life.  So ... prayer works, and now my daughter doesn't have to deal with either one of them this year.  :)

(9/30/2013 - this post has been shared with :

The Frill of Life

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New posts on my Pinterest "Grief" board



Come and share - I posted some new pins on my Pinterest board entitled "Grief."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I've Moved!

I guess I didn't post about this on this blog, but I have moved to a new blog.
Yes, I started a new blog as part of moving on with my life.
While this blog has focused mainly on my grief for the past two years, along with some of the changes my daughters and I have gone through, I feel like it has run its course.
The new blog is called "Starting Over ... Again" and I feel like that is what I have begun to do this summer.
This summer marked the two year anniversary of my husband's death.
While I know that there is still healing to be done, I feel that my daughters and I have made huge strides in that area.
So to make a clean break, I started a new blog.
Here it is:

Starting Over ... Again.

I hope you will join me there.

You can also follow me on Twitter:

Or you can check out and "Like" my new blog's Facebook page.

I hope to see you there, or around, soon!  :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Grief Quote - June 4th

“Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Grief Quote - May 28th

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”

Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"It's Like Having A Broken Leg ..."

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

Anne Lamott

Here is a great place to find quotes about grief and loss:  Goodreads - Grief Quotes

Friday, September 14, 2012

Inspired by grief

I was checking out some other blogs by widows this morning.  I headed over to Network Blogs, where my blog is listed (see the link in the right hand column) and chose to follow some of the many blogs that deal with grief and loss. 

Morbid, you may think.  All of us wallowing in our personal grief, having a collective pity party.  No so!  I find that when I need encouragement and hope, the best place to go is my fellow widows.  We are a plucky bunch, tis true.

I came across a blog by someone who is definitely "Not Your Average Widow" - that's the name of her blog, BTW.  Our military connection (both our husbands served in the armed forces) was what drew me first to the blog, then the fact that she is 3 years into her journey - not as new to this journey as I am, but someone to whom I can definitely relate.

Her post entitle "Project: Unleashed" caught my attention.  And sparked something inside of me.  I have been feeling many of the same things she speaks of in her post.  So I am posting her link here:
Project:Unleashed.

Please feel free to check out this post, and her blog.  :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Here's a great blog I found ...

I have been following this blog for a short while now, and I wanted to share it with you.  I won't spoil it by telling you too much about it; just say that the posts are funny and very touching.  So here it is:

The Real Full House

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lesson #3 from the Garden - Sometimes You Just Need to Start Over

I had such high hopes for my garden this year.  I started planning for it in January.  I went to the local farmers co-op and get seeds, and Youngest Daughter and I spent a Saturday afternoon planting seeds in little paper cups and plastic trays.  We set up a cardtable near a sunny window, and kept the soil moist for the seeds to germinate.

Sprouts started growing from all the cups and plastic trays.  Everything was going fine.  But then I wasn't able to get a garden plot tilled up for awhile, with the weather so wet.  By the time I got the soil ready and got the sprouts in the ground it was too late.  They didn't survive.  I had such great plans for a big garden, but they all just withered and died.

So now I had a choice - give up on a garden for this year, or try a different approach.  Off to the farmers co-op again, this time for 4" vegetable starts.  I came home with two cucumber plants, two cherry tomato plants, two "pear" tomato plants, and two canteloupe plants.  Put them in the garden and prayed for the best.  And they took off and grew!  Everything grew and then outgrew the space I had alloted it.  The cucumbers took over, the tomatoes outgrew their cages, and the canteloupe plants are spread everywhere.

 
 

So what has all this taught me?  I see a parallel with my situation - having to "start over" in many ways.  Seeing something you have planned and work toward and hoped for wither and die.  Like my future with Robby.  We had so many plans and dreams for the future.  We were working so hard to put together a good future for us and our daughters.

When Robby proposed to me, his question was "What are you doing for the next 50, 60, 70 years of your life?"  We had planned on spending a lot more time together.  We only got 20 years.  A lot of people would say to be thankful for the time we had together.  That is one of the things that people say to those who are grieving - thinking that "looking on the bright side" will somehow make it better, and the grief will be easier to bear.  And I am thankful for the time we did have - but I still grieve the time we DIDN'T have together.

But having to start again in the garden has made me realize that sometimes you just have to begin again in other areas of life.  And sometimes when you being again, your harvest is even greater than it might have been originally.  I am still waiting to see what kind of "harvest" God will bring about in my life.  :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Talking about Death to a Child

Kids are intuitive.  They pick up on things we don't expect them to - and often we are amazed (perhaps chagrined?) at what their minds absorb and their mouths then say.  We pride ourselves on sheltering them from issues we feel are "too adult" for them - and then find out after the fact that they have perceived what's going on anyway.  :)

As much as we would like to shield our kids from death, they will be exposed to it.  In many ways, they are exposed a little every day.

"Children are Aware - Long before we realize it, children become aware of death. They see dead birds, insects, and animals lying by the road. They may see death at least once a day on television. They hear about it in fairy tales and act it out in their play. Death is a part of life, and children, at some level, are aware of it.
If we permit children to talk to us about death, we can give them needed information, prepare them for a crisis, and help them when they are upset. We can encourage their communication by showing interest in and respect for what they have to say. We can also make it easier for them to talk to us if we are open, honest, and comfortable with our own feelings - often easier said than done. "

When talking with children, many of us feel uncomfortable if we don’t have all the answers. Young children, in particular, seem to expect parents to be all knowing - even about death. But death, the one certainty in all life, is life’s greatest uncertainty. Coming to terms with death can be a lifelong process. We may find different answers at different stages of our lives, or we may always feel a sense of uncertainty and fear. If we have unresolved fears and questions, we may wonder how to provide comforting answers for our children.
While not all our answers may be comforting, we can share what we truly believe. Where we have doubts, an honest, “I just don’t know the answer to that one,” may be more comforting than an explanation which we don’t quite believe. Children usually sense our doubts. White lies, no matter how well intended, can create uneasiness and distrust. Besides, sooner, or later, our children will learn that we are not all knowing, and maybe we can make that discovery easier for them if we calmly and matter-of-fact tell them we don’t have all the answers. Our non-defensive and accepting attitude may help them feel better about not knowing everything also.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Helping Teens Cope with Death

Here is one I haven't had to deal with as much - teens and death.  My oldest daughter was 19 when Robby died, and Rachel was 8 so we skirted the volatile teen years for the most part.  But helping teens deal with death is a little different than explaining death to a small child.  There are not as many questions, but the loss is just as profound.  They understand more about what's happened, but still need loving adults to help them through the many emotions that are sure to bombard them.



Here are a few hints about helping teens cope with grief:

Many Teens Are Told To “Be Strong”

Sad to say, many adults who lack understanding of their experience discourage teens from sharing their grief. Bereaved teens give out all kinds of signs that they are struggling with complex feelings, yet are often pressured to act as they are doing better than they really are.
When a parent dies, many teens are told to “be strong” and “carry on” for the surviving parent. They may not know if they will survive themselves let alone be able to support someone else. Obviously, these kinds of conflicts hinder the “work of mourning”.
Teen Years Can Be Naturally Difficult

Teens are no longer children, yet neither are they adults. With the exception of infancy, no developmental period is so filled with change as adolescence. Leaving the security of childhood, the adolescent begins the process of separation from parents. The death of a parent or sibling, then, can be a particularly devastating experience during this already difficult period.
At the same time the bereaved teen is confronted by the death of someone loved, he or she also faces psychological, physiological and academic pressures. While teens may begin to look like “men” or “women”, they will still need consistent and compassionate support as they do the work of mourning, because physical development does not always equal emotional maturity.