Mother’s Day

Well my friends Mother’s Day is again upon us and for those of us who have come to dread this day because our mothers or children have died and left a sad place in their hearts and no desire to celebrate Mother’s Day, I especially hold you up in prayer.

I know all too well how difficult this day can be and go out of my way to bypass the greeting card section, or flower shops where it’s all about Mother’s Day. The pain cuts too deep still for me. But someone I know on social media posted information that I did not know about the origin of Mother’s Day. I searched for a reliable source to confirm what she posted. And I’ve put a link below for you to copy and paste into your browsers should you be interested in reading it.

Reading the article and post by my friend made me pause for just a minute to understand who inspired Mother’s Day – a grieving mother. And while it does not take the sting away from this day, it does provide a different perspective.

I am always reminded by those in my tribe that I am still celebrated as a mother. And I appreciate that gift because I am grateful and honored to have had the chance to be a mother. I was lucky. I got that chance that many do not of giving birth and raising a child. Some never get that chance.

I lost my mom when I was seven months pregnant with my only child. I lost so much too soon. So, while I choose not to celebrate this day it’s not because I don’t honor her memory – it’s just a sad day for me. I don’t have a mother to celebrate nor do I have any living children. So for me it’s another day in May.

For all of you wonderful mothers, please know I’m holding you up in prayer and thankfulness that you are honored and treasured. Especially for my followers or those who read this post who’ve lost a child, I hold you close to my heart and stand with you each Mother’s Day knowing it’s one of the toughest days we have to face.

Much love and admiration,

M

http://time.com/4771354/mothers-day-history-origins/

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Grief and Hope

The quiet whisper of hope has yet again gotten my attention as we enter into this Easter holiday. Through the death and resurrection of Christ I have been able to grieve and have hope after experiencing the loss of my only child. But that hope was not as present when I lost my mom nearly 30 years ago. What 30 years? I don’t even know how the time just goes by. I don’t remember her voice anymore. I was a mad at God back then. Angry with Him because I just didn’t understand why. Still don’t.

I wrestled with my faith for five long years all while trying to raise my one daughter who had developed epilepsy at the age of five. Also, have I mentioned I was also in nursing school then. It was a rocky time for me. Losing my mom was difficult – I was only 31. I had so much I wanted to share with her – you see, she was my best friend. We talked every day and then she was gone. It was like that part of my life severed from my body.

I suffered in anger for a long time. Then one day she came to me in a dream and told me enough – that she was ok and I needed to be ok too. I was thankful for that visit because it was life changing for me. I could finally process through the stages of grief and move on with life raising a five-year old and finishing nursing school.

Grief has been part of my life for a very long time. I have grieved losing my childhood because of divorce. I grieved the loss of my father who chose to walk away from his family and didn’t care what happened to us. I have grieved the loss of who I was to be when someone took my innocence for their own sick pleasure. I have grieved the loss of having a normal teenage life-like so many of my other friends. I have grieved the loss of my daughter’s life because of the chronic illness that plagued her and the future she was robbed of because of it. In a span of 17 years, I have grieved the loss of a mother, a grandmother and daughter. I have grieved….

I think grief will always be a part of my life. It is in the fabric of who I have become. It became evident I had to lean as hard as I could into God and to let Him take care of me. I could have just given up. I did want to give up sometimes. God has been so very good to me. He has placed the right people in my life and the right time. Who stood me up when I couldn’t stand. Who fed me when I couldn’t eat. Who clothed me when all I wanted was to give up. He also showed me what He gave up so that I could have life. His son.

I understood very clearly one day God knew my pain because He too lost a child. But very quickly He also showed me the hope I needed to grab ahold of and never let go of and that is the resurrection. It is in the resurrection that I have been able to stand up and walk the path of grief and hope. It is every Easter that I am washed over by such grief and joy because of the sacrifice and the promise all in one weekend. It’s not easy my friends, but I do it every day and so can you.

Hope is life-sustaining for grieving souls. Grab onto that hope and this weekend when you go to your church with your family – just imagine the gravity of God’s loss and in raising his son, Jesus, we are all saved. I can only imagine what that day will be when I can stand at the feet of Jesus surrounded by His glory and my family I’ve missed all these years. I can only imagine how wonderful that reunion will be.

That is how I walk through this journey.

Happy Easter

until next time

M

The past. The present. The future.

So I have been thinking a lot lately about life and in looking back at my past life it seems like it belongs to someone else. Even as I browse through my old blog posts, it’s as if I’m reading about someone else’s experience. I get lost in the memories and confuse them with questioning whether it was a reality or a dream or a nightmare. I can quickly get myself upright when I look at pictures of me and Brittany or watch a video of her – but still it seems like it happened a lifetime ago.

Then I realize that the same thing is happening to me that happened to me after I lost my mom. My best friend in life. I began to forget her voice and what it felt like to be hugged by her. It’s happening again and it’s so hard to digest it all. I’m losing the ability to remember Brittany’s voice and her laugh. I can see it pictures or hear it in videos – and I’m so grateful for that. But losing the ability to recall her in my life has been a bit startling to me.

In the early days of my grief I could still feel her and sense she was around. I longed for her, to hold her and get my little hugs at the end of a long day. But now, I can’t even feel it. Even when I try to feel it. It’s just gone. As if she never existed. How can that be? Why does that happen? How does one reconcile that? I do not know. I know I have been dealing with loss for a long time but this one is just so hard.

It used to be so hard to live in the present  because I wanted so much to go back to the past where we had each other. Even though life was hard dealing with chronic illness and the financial woes that came from caring for her – I’d never trade for anything. Never. But living in the present is easier now – it’s a distraction – a means to distance myself from that painful event, like so many others. Don’t get me wrong, I still consider myself blessed for all that I have been given and still receive today. I’m loved by many and feel that love every day. It has been my life line. But not one day doesn’t go by without understanding the void that resides in my heart. Not one day!

The future, my hope has always been grounded in Christ and knowing one day all this pain and sorrow and loss will go away and we will be reunited again. This is how I have made it this far and how I will continue to love, cherish, extend grace and walk in the light of Jesus. Helping others with grief. Still not sure what that looks like but this blog is part of it. My book will be part of it. My life will be a living offering to my fellow grievers and I hope in some way I am helping you by sharing my story and the story of unimaginable grief and unexpected blessings.

I can’t help but think about the many people who join this journey without ever asking to. My heart goes out to those parents and families of those who recently lost their children, their husbands, fathers, and friends to such a violent act. My heart is broken for them because this journey is not easy. It’s hard. It takes a village to carry them through it. I pray for them daily and I know God is walking beside them and I’m fairly certain carrying them in the most darkest of moments. May God bless them and wrap his arms around them as they begin to navigate their grief.

Until next time,

M

Mayhem

Today at church the message was about how mayhem can derail you on journey in life. Mayhem is everywhere. Mayhem can get in your way and distract you from whatever it is your are trying to achieve. I thought about how relatable it is to grief –  mayhem.

may·hem
noun
noun: mayhem
  1. violent or damaging disorder; chaos.
    “complete mayhem broke out”
    synonyms: chaos, disorder, havoc, bedlam, pandemonium, tumult, uproar, turmoil, commotion, all hell broken loose, maelstrom, trouble, disturbance, confusion, riot, anarchy, violence, insanity, madness;

    mayhem definition – source

    What struck me about the definition is the synonyms that are listed above. Many of these listed I have experienced through grief since my daughter passed. Words describing the many waking minutes, hours, days and weeks that slayed my body to the point of shear exhaustion.

    I don’t experience this phenomena as much any more and I am grateful for that because the pain of going through that time was too unbearable to continue. I would have surely died of a broken heart. God reached down one day and lifted me out of the dark hole of grief and uprighted me on my feet and pointed me in the direction of healing. I’m still on that path. Make no mistake – the pain is still raw and it can hit with no warning; but the mayhem – well it’s calmed down to what I like to call a slight buzz.

    The buzz is always there and some days when I get really quiet and calm, I become more aware of it. That is when I write and process what I’m feeling. I had to reconcile my daughter’s death many years ago. Now I continue to reconcile the life I live without her. That is a different type of grief. But grief nonetheless.

    On our walk with grief, mayhem is all around us and if we have a good support system we can take our grief and sorrow and turn it into an opportunity to serve others who are unfortunately starting their journey. They need us. There are so many ways to help others and when we do that we heal our  hearts just a little more.

    Until next time,

    M

Another Christmas Without You

IMG_6588Here I sit another Christmas without you. The 12th to be exact. In remembrance of her I think about one of the funniest videos of her opening presents and putting bows and ribbons all over herself. She loved making people laugh. That was her gift on this earth. She helped us all forget the ravages of her disease and the daily grind of dealing with all the medications, doctor and hospital visits; and things that she struggled to do that many did without even blinking an eye.  She never let it get her down. Maybe for some fleeting moments she questioned “why me” but she entered every day with a smile and gratitude for being alive. Many of us don’t ever understand that.

Gratitude is something we should all stop and consider daily, but especially at Christmas. So much was given so that we could have life. If you’ve lost a child, as many of you who read this blog have, then you know what that pain feels like. God gave his son so that we may live. What a gift that is. I know my Brittany lives in Heaven and sits at the feet of Jesus and while I miss her so much my heart breaks daily in her absence, I am grateful she is with Jesus.

While the memories of Christmas past greet me with joy this holiday season, I am also left gasping for air at the gravity of the space that is vacant now. Christmas is just not the same “holiday” as it once was. It’s different. I continue to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, but the “holiday” is just not the same. How could it be? It’s hard to explain to anyone who is walking along side me now in this different life. I don’t even understand it so how in the world can I explain it.

I don’t believe it will ever be the same, I mean, how could it? But here is the thing… I am trying hard to make new memories and living out my purpose – still not knowing what that looks like entirely. I’m focusing on what can be and finding ways to honor my daughter’s life. Honoring does not mean woefully spending my life in misery. It means finding purpose for why she was here and how can I lift that up into something meaningful for others. But it does NOT negate the fact that her physical presence has left a devastating mark on my heart and soul. I just can’t live a life in sorrow. It is not at the core of who I am.

Many blessings to you and your families as you celebrate the holidays and it is my hope for you that the new year brings continued healing and purpose.

Until Next Time,

M

Grief and Holidays

I’m sure over the past 11 years I’ve written about the holidays and how my grief journey has played out especially during these very difficult days. The holidays have always been and I imagine always will, the most difficult for me. Unfortunately, my mother’s angel anniversary starts off the season in September followed by my daughter’s angel anniversary in October and capped off by her birthday in late November. By Christmas I am spent grieving OR avoiding grieving.

I have come to dread the holidays. Even though I have learned to live in the reality of loss and grief, I have tried to find some joy during the holiday season. Eleven years later, I can say that it just seems like a different life. My old life ended October 13, 2006 and after the fog lifted, my new life began somewhere down the road. As I look around the room this morning there are few signs of the life I had with my daughter.  I keep my daughter’s memory close by up on the shelf in my living room and in my heart.

IMG_6588
Brittany Anne Boothe 1988 – 2006

 

 

 

 

It’s easy to look away or stay busy to keep the swell of grief that sits in my throat on any given day. For the most part that has been my way of avoiding the gravity of her absence. No one realizes just how hard it is to walk through the holidays without her. Visiting family celebrations knowing she won’t be there or that she isn’t even a fleeting thought. But that was my old life and I am very aware that I can’t stay there nor can I afford to ignore what is in front of me. Love is all around me and I am forever thankful for that because it has given me a breath of life.

I have found balance in both worlds and it works – but it’s hard, don’t be mistaken, it’s extremely hard. I stay busy, I work hard and I play hard – why, because it is better than the misery I’m sure would exist if I did not. Ninety-nine percent of the time I am not miserable, I am happy – love and joy has brought me to this point. I am forever grateful for that. I am also grateful for the life before because my time with Brittany, yes, her name is music to my ears. She taught me so much about life and love. I am a better person because of her time here on this earth.

As you navigate this holiday season as a griever, it is my hope that you take pause to say their name, to smile at a memory, to write it down and then to take in a deep breath and let it out. Step into the present and love on all of those around you who need you to be present. It is the greatest gift we can give those who are walking along side us.

Until next time,

M

It is what it is.

I woke up this morning knowing I had a blog post to write but sorting it all out just seemed so daunting. I find lately I just don’t want to deal with grief. I have virtually put grief in a closet and locked the door. Grief has changed for me. It has become this dark shadow that looms over me during certain periods of the year.

While I understand that shutting grief out is not the answer – I’m not sure what else I can say or do about my grief. It is what it is. I can’t change what happened. The outcome was not in my control. All I can do is live or die. I chose to live. The conflict is profound.

In Susan Duke’s book “Grieving Forward” which I highly recommend, she speaks about embracing life, while not easy because our hearts are full of grief and regret. Realizing that we cannot change and acceptance is key to move forward. Acceptance I think is one of the last phases that we go through on our grief journey.

While I miss my daughter far beyond any words can define, I cannot stay there. I wrestled with the concept that if I moved on, it meant I would forget about her. That is further from the truth. I remember her often, but the grief, the grief has become too much of a burden for me. I can’t do it anymore.

I prayed for so long to find purpose in all the grief and loss I’d had over my entire life. My daughter’s death is just one of many losses, the most profound, but not the only one. I’ve learned to live with grief for a very long time. It has become part of my story and a part of my soul. I have vacillated between the swell of pain in my heart and the sweet memories of my daughter, my mom and grandmothers. I wasn’t sure I’d make it out of the darkness of pain and grief.

Let me be very clear here. I’d never, ever, chose to have never experienced the greatest gift of motherhood which gives such unconditional love. I understood the unconditional love I had for my mom and that she had for me. It was a lesson I had to learn. The joys and sorrows of parenthood were the character building blocks of my adulthood. They have molded me into the person I am today. I am thankful for all of that love and the memories.

Life has moved forward for me because I chose to allow love back into my life. That was the healing I needed to see beyond  my own pain. Moving on does not equate to forgetting the past. It just puts it into a place where I manage my grief, good or bad, it’s manageable. Joy has returned. But the pain is still very present. I would not have traded that time in my life, being the mother of my sweet Brittany. It’s been the most honorable thing I’ve ever done.

The verse in Susan’s book (below) really completes this for me.

Until next time,

M

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. – Psalm 30:11-12