Friday, October 17, 2008

Letting Children Grieve

I guess you could say it is my fault... I have been so absorbed with my own sorrow that I have not been fully aware of what my children are going through.
But, here is what I am now noticing...
  • loss of memory
  • forget important dates and commitments
  • tears
  • bravado ("I can get through this...just watch me!")
  • loss of appetite
  • tired or lethargic
  • accident prone
This, by no means, is a comprehensive list. I have been very vocal to those around me that these symptoms occur daily in my own life. Now it is time to make it known that my children are showing similar symptoms of grief.
I figured that sooner or later I would see some signs. The last two months has been incredibly hard for us as we head into the ninth month. It was hard before but the longer we travel into this year the sharper the pain. Seeing my children's grief is sometimes hard when I am overwhelmed with my own heart pain. But, being a parent is not a part time job. Some days you just take the next step and feel like a robot. Then there are days when you can't seem to put one foot in front of the other. There is such overwhelming thoughts of failure and inadequacy in raising the children. And, then there is the utter exhaustion from having to parent alone.

Lately, those around me have seen changes in my children also. Extending grace in this season of our lives is as valuable as friendship itself. For my kids to know that they have advocates who are cheering for them on the sidelines as they "play" this difficult game of life makes me one of the most blessed women around.
I KNOW that my children will be okay. I fully believe that the Lord will sustain them as He does me. I trust that He has an incredible plan for each one as they
walk this path He has laid before them.

The next three months will be incredibly difficult as we manuever through the holidays, Eric's birthday, and the aniversary of his death. I am not looking foward to any of it. I would much rather dig a hole and hide then have to face any of it. But, my kids need something much different. They want to keep the traditions where I would rather ditch it all to travel to some place warm that we have never been. Even as I see the Christmas trees and decorations go up in the store I feel emotionally exhausted. I just don't want to deal with any of it but as a mother I have to. A part of the children's grief process is to have some things that are familiar, like traditions, continue even though the rest of life has changed so much. I am dreading this like a hot summer day! If I could just ignore this year then I have one more year to heal and work through my feelings...actually, having one year further down the road means (possibly) less tears and sweeter remembrance of days gone by rather than painful thoughts
about what could have been.
Can you hear a prayer request coming? My heart feels like it is on a teeter-totter. I would cherish a few prayers for peace during what seems to be a turbulent time in my life. I need wisdom when making decisions about the next three months. And, as I write this I just can't believe that Eric is truly gone and I am planning out the
last three months of a very difficult year.


CristyLynn said...

We are praying, Heather, for you and the kids!

Anonymous said...

Always praying for you (ALL of you!)
In Christs' love,

Jennifer said...

My prayers are with you & your kids. A verse my mom clung to during a trial recently in her life was Psalm 50:15. May God give you all a special peace and strength in the coming months.

not2brightGRAM said...

Heather, of course your first answer is to entrust them to the Lord.

But (as you know) Rick's children lost their mother when they were all teens, and he would highly recommend Hospice Care. They have programs for survivors.

Please consider pointing them that way. They may need to talk it out with others who have "been there", in a safe environment, away from where you are. I suspect they try to be brave around you to protect you from pain ("Mom's been through enough; I don't want to see her hurt anymore because of my letting her down"). The more they can grieve openly, the sooner they will heal.

Just a thought... Love you!

Lazy D Ranch said...

Thank you for that "thought". :) I just talked to another friend who has her children going to a group setting sponsered by the local hospital. I know that our local hospital has something similar and since you are the second person in a day to bring this up I think I will look into know, God's providence and all! ~Heather

Karen said...

Girl, I am praying for you and yours. Some days it's all you can do to put one foot in front of the other. Still, each footstep takes you a step further in the journey.


Kathyb1960 said...


I wanted to share with you about another family who has had a loss...but they lost a son, not their father. The mother started the blog in 2005 after their son died, and it chronicles how they got through that horrible first year....and even the 2nd year, and each yr that follows. The name of the blog is Writing Canvas. Oh, and they have 10 kids.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers as you continue to take one step at a time, each second of the day.

May God bless and comfort all of you.

Kathy in West Texas

Stacy McDonald said...

Heather, please know the McDonalds are still praying for y'all.

We need to talk soon. Let me know when a good time for you is...

Anonymous said...

Dear Heather ~ I have just spent the last couple of hours reading thru most of your blog - and want to tell you how sorry I am for the pain you have gone thru. (I am the mom "Kathy" speaks of above) Though I have not lost my husband, I know the deep pain of losing someone you love so dearly. I had a stillborn daughter 12 years ago, and then four years ago, our 16 year old son died in an accident in our home.

I know those pains of those deep sobs, the long nights and worrying about our children. Two of our younger sons found Matthew, and it was so hard for them - and I too worry about how it's affected them. But just as only God can do, He can grow our children thru this, and make them stronger because of what they have gone thru. I will often say that my children have gone thru more than most adults, and while I believe that, I also believe God can grow them stronger than most adults, and use them in a mighty way. I know He can do the same for you and your children.

If I may tell you too, in this crazy grieving proces, approaching the first year anniversary of Eric's death will probably be worse than the day itself. It's the horrible anticipation. And then when we got through the day, it was like "whew, we made it . . . " I won't say the 2nd year was much easier - for us - it was very difficult on our marriage, and we barely made it - but by God's grace, tears will slowly fade more - and JOY will come again. God says weeping may endure for a note, but JOY comes in the morning. This night time is long - but morning and the sun will come - clouds will come back - but less and less.

If there is anything I can do to encourage you, please do not hesitate to write to me. I am also on facebook as well.

May you feel the presence of our Heavenly Father holding you in the palm of His hand.

godlover said...

Heather, as always you and your entire family are in my daily prayers along with several others I have met since I started blogging almost 16 months ago. I don't have any words of wisdom, short of confirming what has already been written, that your kids need a place where they can grieve away from mom. They are so close to your pain that they struggle to have room for their own. And they need that opportunity just as much as you did/do/will. They need to be able to express their own grief without being afraid of hurting you more. They don't understand that this is the worst pain you've ever experienced and absolutely nothing they do or say will cause you to hurt more. They are most likely highly protective of their mother, as they should be, but not to the extent that they neglect their own grieving process. Don't get down on your own case over this; it's not exactly like you've got an instruction manual or anything. Writingcanvas hit the nail on the head when she said the actual day won't be nearly as bad as the anticipation leading up to the day. I also found that to be true on the anniversary of my son's death. I almost felt guilty that my day wasn't as bad as I had imagined it was going to be. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Step. Step. Step.
In Christ's love,


da halls said...

I am praying for you and your children.

Pamela said...

Dear Heather,

Everytime I read your blog, I end up smiling and crying simultaneously. Tears are blurring my vision as I type. I am so sorry that you are on this journey and for that I cry. I know, though, that your faith is in the God of the universe and that He sustains you even in your lowest moments - for that I rejoice. Although I have not experienced the deep sorrow that you are living, I have experienced so many of the feelings you expressed in the time my husband has been gone. You told me in March that the grief you were experiencing was similar to what you'd gone through when Eric was away with the military. I know the intensity cannot be the same but I grieve with you and understand the struggle you are facing to just go on. My eldest daughter decorated our house for the holidays during Mario's first deployment, enlisting her sisters' assistance. I was much weaker than you are proving to be - I withdrew and had little consideration to how my children were dealing with their father's absence. Mentally, I knew the toll having him gone had on them but I could not translate that knowledge into action. I wandered through that holiday time rather aimlessly. You are handling your terrible loss with so much more grace than I have my momentary grief. You continue to be an inspiration to me.

Thank you for sharing so transparently. You continue to be in my prayers and I will pray specifically as you have asked.


julie said...

Praying for your family. I am so sorry you are having such a hard time right now.


six2love said...


It's 3 months today David has been gone. Your blog is such an encouragement to me and I know to others, as well.

I would not wish this loss upon anyone, but you are letting the Lord use you as a blessed provision to a specific portion of the Body of Christ at this time. As part of that Body, I want to say "Thank You. You are appreciated greatly!"

I will continue in prayer for you and the children.

The Lord's protection and peace upon your home tonight.

sheep wanderer said...

Circumstances have changed for me...I no longer have the luxury of keeping up with blogs so regularly, but I still remember you all regularly...perphaps because I went through my own grief and bereavement not so long ago.

God hasn't forgotten either, new struggles creep up down the line...God is faithfully still walking through it all with you. I continue to pray this for you.

Liz UK

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