What does it taste like?




I go out to eat.  There is something on the menu I have never seen before so feeling brave – I order it.   Everyone with me watches as the waiter places the hot plate before me.  They watch as I take the first bite.  They will decide if they will ask me for a taste after they watch the expression on my face.  Upon that bite as they watch me chew and analyze the question waits right there on their lips.

“What does it taste like?”

What can it be compared to?  Give us a reference point.  Does it taste like chicken?

When my dad died I had a lot of people who understood ( at least they thought) how I felt.   I’ve had friends who have lost parents and I can strongly empathize but I know deep down that I don’t know the nuances of their relationship with their parent.  I don’t know how they feel.

Maybe that is the lesson.  We need to stop thinking we understand.  After all, is there any way to figure out if chicken really tastes the same to me as it does to you?   There will never be a way to analyze and prove that one way or another.

What seems to be important here in the human experience is that we figure out a way to find some common point upon which to relate.   The danger is we manufacture, make-up and invent common points, we project our own feelings on to others without really being able to understand their feelings because it takes too much time and energy to listen.   We  are quick to check it off our list.

We say the words that are meant to close the door and secure it when others want to talk about the uncomfortable, the sad, the grievous.   “I know” we say.   Even though we don’t really know at all.

When my son died no one could stand to watch for long to see the expressions on my face as I entered this time.  I lost friends.  I did not loose my son – he still lives in me – but I lost friends. They don’t want to know how this tastes.

I have made friends with people who have experienced the death of a child.   The facts about what we have tasted go unspoken.  We can sit together in companionable silence assuming our feelings resemble each others.  There is nothing to prove and I can accept it when they respond to me “I know”.  Yet this connection wears thin too with time.

Family members have a hard time with me too.  Perhaps because they think they know me, having grown up with me to a point (when we were barely grown up at all)  and the changes they see and can’t pinpoint frighten them.

I have always wondered if ghosts were real.  Now at times I think I have become a ghost drifting through days, down halls I have always inhabited, interacting in a flimsy way with  the “real world.”

I pay attention to people with what “we” call disabilities.   I see how they work to compensate to function in a world not built for them.   I relate to that now.  I spend a lot of energy compensating. I thought it would change with time and it has but instead of becoming easier it  seems that once one hurdle is crossed another is in its place.

I am hyper vigilance.   I have tagged a lot of triggers and know where they are. There are unexpected triggers everywhere and I have to be on my guard.  Time is precious and entire days can be destroyed with a hidden trigger.

I can not really relate to the  situation I am in  either – not really.  It is never quite “done” and I don’t like how it tastes.  I do not  understand it. There are no rules.  This person, my son is present and not present.  He is here and not here.    I am not asking anyone else to understand either yet I keep trying to explain- if only to myself.   It doesn’t work.  I can not explain how this feels or tastes or looks.

Nothing is adequate.   It is not like when I lost my dad or my mom or my friends that have died.  It is not like when my daughter was sick, or when I miscarried.    It is not like anything else.   It is this.  My son died. He is still twenty-nine and I am still his mother.    Yes it will be soon be the fifth anniversary of his death and it is still yesterday.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Family, Friends, Memories | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Each passing day



Dear son,
The world is still going crazy. The government is ridiculous. People  believe crazy things and  the politicians  making crazy promises and I apologize to you. I apologize about some of the things you used to ask me to question and for my stubborn stance. You were right.

I want to see you so badly.  I want to talk with you.  I want to take a hike somewhere. I would love to hear your opinions about the current presidential race. I need your arm around my shoulder. I need to brew us a cup of tea. I need you to make fun of my television shows. I need your critique about my paintings -there are so many you have not seen.


I wonder how you would be wearing your hair and what you would be doing now. Would you be teaching somewhere, involved in a post-doctoral program or earning a bicycle at New Belgium Brewery?

I don’t understand how things have come into being without you being here.

I can’t believe you have never met the youngest craziest dog in our pack.

I don’t know what I thought would happen with time. I keep going through the motions and I live and even have new adventures. There are real moments of joy because I love your sister and your dad and we support each other. Your dad, your sister and you are my home.

I still don’t know what to do.

There is nothing to be done for it.
I even stopped writing to you because I hate that I get no answer.


The red tail hawks come circle above me on these warming spring days and I wish I believed in signs. Regardless I tell them hello and thank them for coming by.

I am exhausted by the changes around me and the changes that age brings and the lack of change in the way I feel.

I am so thankful (and that sounds so strange) that I have so much I miss about you. I do the missing in many different ways and I’m not really good at any of it.
I don’t want to have to miss you. I really would rather be taking you for granted. (Sad truth in that sideways joke). I would like to have my concerns for you to distract me from this sorrow.

It is Spring and you, as ever, should be here. I’ve got hours and hours of things to say to you or hours and hours I would love to spend quietly with you but there is a mountain of snotty tissues beside me and saying anything more would just be repetition.

I love you. I love the memories I have of our time as mother and son. Oh sweet pea I love you so much.



Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 7 Comments


IMG_4790Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and my son’s birthday have passed. The light lingers a bit longer and the globe is repeating the pattern that slowly guides us into Spring. The year that was 2015 brought about good changes for some family members and friends. It also brought with it some sorrow.

I decided not to write about each incremental step of the holidays and the markers that are mileposts for my own journey. It was conscious and deliberate to see what it felt like by fasting from talking about everything.
I made some other decisions that might have appeared to some in my family to be abrupt. I made them because I was determined to see something change. I thought primarily, selfishly, that it was change that needed to happen to those I live with.
I decided to go to counseling again. The pastor at the church we now attend spoke so highly of her counselor and recommended her to me that I decided why not? Here was someone who, at least, would be bound to have to listen to me. After all I would be paying for my time with her. I felt there was so much to be said about my frustrations and fears and anxiety and dissatisfaction with life and most of the people in it.
I was being driven along through my days by a strong hot wind.
When I began talking to the counselor I felt every frustration bubble to the top. Where to start? Unhappy, frustrated and dissatisfied was the place I was used to being and without realizing it- what I wanted to hold on to.
I was talking and sniffling when she stopped me. I was on a roll and she stopped me and said “I hear so much anger.” Which I have so say, made me angry. Of course I am angry. I am justified at being angry!
Life itself is not what I expected. In fact very little if anything has lived up to my expectations. The world, country, town, my son’s friends, my friends, my former church, my husband, my daughter, my son have all fallen short of my expectations.
The counselor without missing a beat immediately led me through a short meditation practice. When she began it she asked me where I felt the stress in my body. I felt like my legs were made of lead – much like it felt right after my son died. The heavy wet blanket was draped over me. With legs of lead you can’t move forward.
I breathed through the exercise and I took note. I resolved to practice. After the instructions she asked me how I felt and I was honest. “I feel resistence” I said.
I hated to admit to myself that she was correct. Anger has ruled and it is toxic. Having let go of so many things I was loath to let go of this one thing I was so familiar with.
So I went home and I practiced. I practiced when the dogs were barking and the news from the world news was terrifying. I practiced when I saw photos of my son. I practiced before my husband came home and when I saw the sad expressions on his and my daughter’s face.
I am not in charge of their feelings and I need to be able to choose what to do with my own feelings with as clear a mind as possible.
The world – my world will never live up to my expectations. It is the way it is and it is not my fault nor is it the fault of the people in my world. I don’t meet their expectations either.
I am beginning to see how linked my anger and fear are.
I was afraid that I might not be honoring my son if I do not continue to express how much I love him and miss him. Yet there other ways to honor him and my family. I can continue to practice putting out the angry fires that fuel my fear and unrealistic expectations. I’ve practiced being angry long enough.



Posted in anger, Co-dependency, Coping with the Death of a Child, Holidays, meditation, mindfulness | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Surviving the New Year



I always thought it odd when reading an obituary or when one was read at a funeral that “survivors” were listed. Survived by Uncle, Aunt, sister, brother, wife, husband, mother, daughter, father. The event that caused the end of the deceased’s life was either an illness or an accident and the ones still living were just . . . well . . . still living.


Here is the definition:

noun: survivor; plural noun: survivors
1 a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.”the sole survivor of the massacre”
▪ the remainder of a group of people or things.”a survivor from last year’s team”
▪ a person who copes well with difficulties in their life.”she is a born survivor”


It never ever occurred to me what survivor meant until my son died.


When my husbands dad died, my dad died, my husbands mother died, my mother died – their age, physical health and lack thereof all made their passing seem inevitable. Health failed them with time. That was the order I was used to.


My daughter survived cancer. That issue of survival I understood. Other children being treated for other cancers while she was in treatment did not survive. It made no sense. I saw the families of these children and they terrified me.


The fact that bad things could happen was made very clear to me. I got the message – no need for more information. But some how whoever is in charge did not get the memo. My son died.


Healthy, beautiful, smart, talented, funny and caustic – he fell from a height (that some have fallen from and lived) and broke his neck and died. We, my husband and daughter and I were listed as survivors.


Surviving does not mean flourishing or that you are unscathed or uninjured or even whole. It means the body is still functioning for the most part. Beyond that I am not sure you can grade or assess it.


It is an odd term but totally accurate for those who loose a loved one. Now I loved my mom and dad, please don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think about them every day – every single day – several times a day and always before I go to sleep and always when I wake up and always when I wake up in the night and when I drink a cup of tea or when I play with his dogs or . . . well – you get it.


This is what I imagine surviving looks like. I picture a person hanging on to a little white life preserver bobbing about in a thrashing sea. That’s me some days . Some days the wind dies down and the sun comes out and I can relax my grip a little but I’m still salty and wet and weary – surviving. It is a lot of work and to make things even harder the cheer leaders left on the bus long ago.


Friends and family want to think you are alright, better, doing well because they don’t want to think otherwise, just as I did not want to think otherwise all those years ago watching bereaved parents of cancer patients. I get it. But if you get the chance or notice someone out here paddling with me and the others on this sea – give us a wave and thumbs up now and then – we promise not to splash you.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 2 Comments

lig·a·ment ˈliɡəmənt/ noun


Years ago in Durham while attending an evening Ladies Bible Study the verse was read from Ephesians 4:16 “For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.” One of my best good friends looked at me and pronounced to me – “you are a ligament”

noun: ligament; plural noun: ligaments
1 a short band of tough, flexible, fibrous connective tissue that connects two bones or cartilages or holds together a joint.
▪ a membranous fold that supports an organ and keeps it in position.
▪ archaic
a bond of union.

Over the years in various situations I have thought about what she said. I was not particularly flattered when she said it, but through the years as I have considered my role I think she may be right.

As a wife and mother I hold things together to keep them moving as smoothly as possible. I would like to think I am tough, supportive and able to keep things in position.

The archaic meaning – “a bond of union” may not be quite accurate for me. I have kept some things united and sadly (admitting my sin) I have probably tried to drive a wedge between other things.

In my family understanding my role helps. It does not keep me from being resentful or from feeling taken for granted. Understanding my role does not keep me from overstepping boundaries or keeping firm boundaries myself . Yet in times of high frustration, tension and anxiety I can remember that my job is not to fix the situation but to provide support so that those who need to make decisions can do so more easily or smoothly.

But even ligaments get tattered, torn and frayed when pushed beyond their limit. We can only hold on for so long under some weight.
Over the holiday watching family members cycle through grief I felt myself approaching the limit of my ability. I understand that everyone must handle the grief they carry in their own way. I can’t fix that and quite frankly I feel overloaded – with my own grief in one arm and trying to prop up their elbow. An elbow that often – they jerk away.

The love you have for family is unwrapped every time you are in their presence. Even if your reaction to them is annoyance it is probably precipitated by the love you have for them. Every time you serve up their plate at meal time, wash their clothes, shop for Christmas gifts or birthday gifts regardless of the frustration it is fueled by love.

When someone you love dies all that love you feel has no outlet. It cannot be shared with someone else or spent on them because, after all it is the love you have for that person now gone. For a ligament it is tough to hold on to thin air. To reach to grip things that have no substance in the day to day world of earth. There is no place to focus this still active love.Creative activities are great along with other ways of being busy but there is only so much time in a day and finally your own internal ligaments say enough – time to rest.

We that have grief learn to do emotional weight lifting. We pack it up every day and carry it with us even though the package is bursting at the seams most days. Every time we encounter a place, a smell, a sight, a song, a taste that is linked to our loved one it connects as if wired into that package we are carrying. And being the ligament I am – when this happens – I hold tight to both the package and the thing I have encountered. I let all the gears spin as the teeth line up and I recognize and try to honor the privilege of having the connection, the memory.

I do this every day. Every single day.

These inevitable encounters may cause us to choose not to venture out into the world much, to stay close to those things we have built up our emotional weight lifting resistance to. That too is a way of coping.

The verse of the Bible is referring to the church but is it allowed to be inferred to family? If so then I probably have not taken time to recognize the power adapted to my need, nor have appreciated any growth I have sustained for maturity but I understand the building up of itself in love.
The emotional body building that it takes to lift the tangle that is a mix of both love and grief and bittersweet hope – I get that.

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Leaving Home


I haven’t been able to write anything to post here for some time. It is not because I don’t have things I want to say. If anything it is because I have too much I want to say and nothing seems adequate.
I keep waiting for something to change, for there to be a shift towards a gentler acceptance of the fact that my son is gone. I keep waiting for all sorts of things because of ideas that occur to me or ideas others suggest. I am just going to be where I am for the unforeseeable future so it is the expectations that may need to be ignored.
I feel like I am bragging when I talk about how wonderful my son was and how close we were. Would that particular closeness have continued had he lived? Would him choosing a mate have changed things? Questions like these are part of those things that I am trying to ignore. Who knows? No one will ever know. Speculation is frustrating.
Remembering is frustrating too. Remembering things you wish you could have done differently, opportunities that were missed, harsh words you wish you had never spoken. Those moments are gone but the impression they left has fossilized now and it makes it harder to ignore them.
There are so many memories.
Those who are left in my life need to be appreciated. How dare I allow grief to interfere with appreciating them and creating memories with them. I work hard at compartmentalizing so that when I am with another person I love I can give them as much attention as they deserve. Perhaps I over compensate. It is exhausting and I second guess myself.
I see videos of military personnel returning home and their dogs greeting them. I picture my son walking through the door and his aged dog seeing him again. Why do we make up such scenarios? As if the reality is not hard enough.
Keeping things that were his and not using them is something I continue to struggle with. I struggle with using his clothes and books or giving them away. It is as if by doing so I have to really truly finally believe he is gone.

He is gone.
My Facebook feed is full of posts of parents who have lost children. I avoid Facebook sometimes because of that. Their new, raw horror is too much for me. I tell them I am sorry for their loss and hate the fact those six simple words are the only words that I or anyone can say. Those words that in proportion to the loss should be stretched across the universe scrolling down eternally like the banner in the Star Wars movies.
Comfort? That is a tough one. Taking comfort in . . . what exactly? There again there is an entire litany of words, platitudes, nice quotes, well intended suggestions, but comfort? Perhaps I have to face the fact that I don’t want any. Perhaps I take comfort in my discomfort and everyone who by exposure to me that finds themselves uncomfortable for that brief encounter will just have to get over it.
Actually, unless you know me very very well, as my daughter and husband do – you might never know. You might forget where I live until someone says something randomly – “I almost broke my neck” or “I thought I would die” or some other phrase.
Yet here is where I live – navigating what seems like a mine field of grief.
Triggers? Let’s see – how many examples do you want? Songs, smells, weather changes, season changes, holidays, TV shows, food, tall young men, guitars, birds, bugs, lizards, silver VW Jetta station wagons, rock-climbing videos or commercials, clothing especially Patagonia clothing, plaid shirts, Birkenstocks and beer.
I bartered for a painting at an art show I participated in recently. The painting is of a murder of crows on a limb. It is entitled “Leaving Home” There are four birds in the painting. Three sit looking one direction and one is facing the opposite direction. I attribute a different meaning to this painting than other’s might.
I am like an electrical wire whose insulation has been stripped in places. I spark and fire and short out now and then – but I try to keep letting the current flow while it can. I try, but you may want to give me some room.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 1 Comment

The questions of July


Dear Son

I am sitting here in front of the computer.  The coffee is brewing in the kitchen. The youngest pup has come to lick and wallow on me. I watch his antics and think “you would like him, must like him”? I never know exactly how I am supposed to talk about some of things I think.

I have felt you to be so “close” all week. Are you close to me or am I closer to you?  Yes it is the week that marks year four of that terrible anniversary. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for those who continue to reach out to us in remembrance of you. At the same time I find myself hesitating over some phones calls when I look at caller ID. I don’t understand it myself. It is not like I am not used to crying but sometimes when I hear my voice full of tears struggling to talk I feel like I am embarrassing you.

The grief process has been likened to a roller coaster by many . But that description only goes so far (yes that is a pun). On a roller coaster you have a moment to at least acknowledge the fact that the current climb is going to lead to a dip of some magnitude or other at some point. For me most days, the dips and gut-wrenching loops still come out of nowhere.

The term softer is used by some of my contemporaries to describe their feelings with the passing of years. I think I have become harder. I am less tolerant. If you still laugh at me you must be laughing at that. Tolerance for some things was never one of our long suits. I gather myself up, steel myself for the situation and plow through, mow down, bulldoze under?  You get the idea.

I don’t think I am alone with this annoyance factor. I see it in other’s who have lost children. We flare so quickly when someone tries to tell us to move on, even if it is not directed at us personally. We are very quick to defend the bereaved parent. Recently someone accused bereaved parents of “wanting attention.” I will grant you there are a variety of personality types in our sad group who come at the situation with their own particular style and perhaps that is what they are seeing, and turning and running from (because that is what “they” do).

If parents seek attention it is not for themselves, but to draw attention to the child that is gone or to draw attention to the circumstance of the passing in a hope of preventing it for someone else’s child. But really, how dare the world forget their child! How dare anyone who knew you, forget you!

It is Saturday and the 4th of July and the country is pretending to understand what it is celebrating though few would put themselves in a position to do those things to bring about the independence this day is marked for. Independence is an ideal. It is the goal of many and the achievement of few. We are all bound by many things.

Fear binds me and others. Fear is a big one. Fear for the unknown. Grief binds me too and the knowledge that I wield no control. I am not independent of these things.

Your sister saw a juvenile red tail hawk the other day when she took the dogs – your dogs – out to play. She said it sat near by and watched her and the dogs, though the dogs did not notice the hawk. She and I and your dad notice – is that the right word-notice? We look for and anticipate finding the things that are connected with you to remind us and become our sign that we are still connected. As if we really needed a sign. Yet we crave it because we don’t have you.

Living the life I have is a lot of work. Remembering your positive embracing spirit and things you said to me while you were here is a common practice that helps to some extent. I don’t know if living is any more of a struggle than it it ever was, but I have to admit that sometimes I wish I could slap a handicapped sticker on my forehead – just to warn people. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear – something like that.

I digress. I would so appreciate a reply from you.

This has been a tough week. There have been a few other minor losses among those of us who love you but we will gather ourselves up and press on. If you are aware of anything then you understand that that is no minor feat.

Yes, sweet man, you are that important to us. You changed our life and if you did not know that then the attitude you exhibited to us was a great act indeed.  I think – no I know – you were secure in the fact that we adore you.  I hope you are laughing now. You changed my life and I will be forever altered by you. I freely acknowledge no desire for independence from it. I love you and I miss you.


Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 3 Comments

June again


Perhaps this is the tradition now- every year -this time of year -to revisit this particular memory. Four years ago today my son was home. We had just had a storm rip through the mountains. Our power was out and our generator was buzzing. The huge oak tree that stood at the fork of our driveway had spit and half of it lay across the driveway. It had crushed the arbor my husband had built for his raspberries and blackberries.
A couple of years before the same arborist and his company that now cleaned up the broken tree had pinned it together with a great wire. But this best effort was no match for the wind. Another tree was uprooted, tossed on its side. Its skirt was hiked up exposing its roots and dirty bottom.
The noise of the generator and the chain saws made the dogs nervous. My son said, “let’s go take a hike.”
I was still nervous from the storm and the oak tree made me cry. I fished for excuses not to go. “What if the roads were blocked?”
My son scowled, pressed his lips together “come on,” he said, “it will be alright. If it is bad, then we’ll turn around and come home.” We loaded up the dogs and some water. My stomach churned and I had to stop twice at a restroom on the way. My older Pomeranian was not up for the trip and would have to be carried so she stayed home. We were on our way to Panthertown.
You hike down and in to Panthertown so returning always provides a climb when you are tired after a long day.
Sadie, Asa and Sky in the back seat we drove up and wound our way along back roads that took us in. The sky was blue and dotted with clouds that looked like crumbs left from the storm that had passed.
We stood at the trail head – hesitating only briefly before we began the walk down. Sky was a year old as was Sadie but my son controlled his two better than I did my one. Down into the valley we walked where it finally leveled off by the stream.The path is sandy at times and in the boggy places wooden walks have been provided to keep your feet dry.
The sun filtered through the over hanging trees printing a yellow and green jigsaw on the path. The dogs eager for the trail at first settled into a measured gait as they sensed our intention to press on.
My son knew where he wanted to go.
We arrived at a larger beach by the stream where there is light golden sand and a few stones. The water slides over some rocks at the top gently filling a broad pool. The water was cold, too cold for me. My son rolled up his pant legs and waded in. The dogs were off leash now and hesitated, wanting to follow him. My son leaned down calling them ,clapping his hand gently till one by one they followed.
I pulled out my phone and made a video of the scene. The video is not long enough to suit me now. I always berate myself for not lingering on my son longer. My son had brought a ball and tossing it out into the water encouraged the pups to swim after it. Sadie – the youngest border collie was the only taker. Slender and black like a seal she swam while we cheered her on.
“A good strong swimmer.” I said.
On our walk back towards the car I watched my son as he took the lead. All three dogs were at his heel. They knew who they could trust to follow. I memorized him there, so tall, and thin and strong.
The green light of the tree close over his head, his silhouette against the sunny path. He knew I was behind him. I always had been.
I won’t lie. There are days when I am so weary that I wonder just how soon I will follow him now. I suppose I just cannot see the path as clearly as I did then.
I do marvel that part of him was me. I am constantly amazed by that truth when I see my daughter. I think both my children are the best parts of me and their dad with an extra measure of their own peculiar spice.
Yes, it is a wonderful memory. I never got to rehash that memory with my son. In less than a month after this hike he was gone.
Somehow I keep thinking I will figure out how to do these days, how to equip myself with the tools to staunch the flow. My life startles me at times. What startles me most is that my only choice is to resign myself to the fact that there is no “getting used to” this.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 5 Comments

Dear Son


Dear Son,

I don’t write here as often as I used to though I talk to you all the time. I remember when people told me in an attempt to comfort  that “you would always be with me ” after you died. I was polite, I told them thanks and I walked away thinking “what are they talking about?” It was an assumption on their part because the people who said it had not experienced a loss like this. It sounded nice and was something I think they hoped would be true.

I know they didn’t know what they were talking about. I know they hoped it could be true. They don’t know the half of it. I talk to you all the time. I think of you as being privy to all my thoughts and all my activities.  As the fog cleared that first year you became clearer and clearer in my mind.

Just yesterday I had a memory of an event that I could swear you were present for. I remember your facial expression and what you said but then I looked at the calendar I realized it was after your accident.

I remember your facial expression in situations where in times before we would look at each other and exchange that nonverbal cue. Or I would look at you and you would be looking away .your body language stating emphatically that it was time to go, move on. I remember things you have said and they apply to the current situation and sometimes more poignantly than before.

I see you in your sister and your dad. I see you in things I do and maybe it is because in some ways I want to model myself after some of those things, those things that I think of as your  better attributes.

I thank you and your sister for allowing me to be your mother. It has been a great privilege. I can’t adequately explain that. There are no words. When the florist industry hit upon the idea of Mother’s Day they hit a gold mine. Thank you for never giving Mother’s Day any credence. Your attitudes about what is and what is not important as dictated by society has held true.

“Mother’s Day” is a Sunday like many other Sunday’s. You and your sister are the only gift and accolade I need. You both in your lives and your attitudes are my bouquet.

I think that this  “holiday” is harder for your dad than for me. He is so fierce about his love for me at times.
We locked in this grief together try so hard not to allow our personal grief to make the other’s grief any harder.

If you do witness anything then you know I have these terrible attacks of yearning. It is a huge whole body contraction. No, it is worse than that. The mind and body and world all contract for a terrible moment , contorts and sometimes I wonder if I will breath again when it comes. I cannot predict when or why it comes when it does. I function so much of the time feeling that you are right beside me. I think it is when I want to touch you, hug you, hear your voice when that yearning sees an opening to hit.

I know, I don’t need to go on. I know that you and I in the short time we had together on this earth said all the words necessary, did all the necessary things to express the deep love and appreciation we had for each other.

That will have to do for now.
That will have to do.    You know I love you.  I know you love me.  That will have to do.



Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 4 Comments

Learning to Meditate – finally.




I hesitated for a moment before posting this -which is probably some sort of indication that this is something I really need to confess especially to my son.  I am exploring mindfulness and the practice of meditation to center my mind.

Meditation like fasting and prayer in the sacred scriptures is not something that is a mere suggestion , it is and was an accepted practice. Meditation is a place to come center. Psalms 1 suggests that it plants us firmly like a tree soaking up the rivers of water preparing the tree to bear fruit.

One of the meditation practices is the deceptively simple practice in which you think about breathing. You think about each breath, in and out. When I was a child I remember being asked to take a nap. While in repose I would become aware of my breathing. I remember becoming so aware of it that I became frightened. I worried that if I stopped thinking about it I would stop breathing. I didn’t understand that in that situation not breathing was impossible.

You cannot control that part of you. The body breaths as long as all the wiring is intact.
Isn’t it funny that the one central part of you that keeps you alive is something you cannot control? You can concentrate and make yourself breath deeply but you cannot sustain it for long, once you stop concentrating your body assumes its own rhythm. You can get excited and breath quickly depleting your CO2 with the result being that you pass out from hyperventilation. But once you pass out your body begins to breath normally again.

What is the result of being aware of such simple things? There are those who encourage us to be more mindful suggesting that we should observe our thoughts as separate from us, acknowledge our moods as something that will come and go like the tide. They suggest that in doing so we might be able to step outside of ourself to act towards others with kindness, compassion and understanding. Could it be so simple and yet so difficult to take time in this world that tugs at us from every direction to think outside of ourselves?

I remember my mother complaining, lamenting that she could not help how she felt. The truth is because she did not know how to, she indeed could not. Thoughts are like unruly pups that run away quickly if we do not try to be aware of them. The thoughts nudge our mood and soon we find it difficult to function or function in unbecoming ways.

My bouts with grief are intense. The song about something coming in like a wrecking ball seems like a good analogy for the intensity. It knocks me off my feet momentarily and I feel like I truly cannot breath. I am willing to try and learn a practice that will allow me to observe it, recognize it and strangely enough – honor it – even the pain. I may be sitting on the floor where it knocked me when I finally find the strength to honor it but that will be an improvement.


In the moments after I meditate I am able to picture lighter things. My imagination serves me well. Recently after visiting our beautiful public library I find myself picturing myself like this structure with vast windows that light can flood through. I am filled with shelves of information that I have experienced and seen and learned from others. Not all of the words and ideas are happy. But they are written.

They are proof of who I am and where I have been and seen and experienced. Any one of the shelves is at my disposal to visit or to pass by for the time being.

Every day, every single day there are moments given over to thinking of, wishing for, missing and mourning my son. It is something that is lodged close to the spot that regulates my breathing. It resides in the space that holds the feelings for my daughter and my husband and all those I care about in life who give me strength and reassure me.

Is meditating going to fix anything that has happened? No. It may however help me rest for a bit , to gain my balance, to give me space to think, observe, process and honor.

Given the influence the gift of my family has been in my life I do in all ways want to honor them while I still breath. I honor my son , my mother and dad and my husbands parents too. I may be among the last on earth to do so in this time if even only for this day.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, meditation, mindfulness | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments