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

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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

New Design

I hope you all have noticed by now I have been working on a new design for my blog. It started out a bit dark and gloomy and while grief can be that on any given day; I wanted to bring a little more light to the site.

Changing the outside seems so much easier than the inside when it comes to growth and maturity in the grieving process. That is no different than this website. Just like my grief journey – this website has matured and while still a little weathered, is still my story. It’s my experience to unimaginable loss and navigating my way through it.

The content is still relevant. It’s a true depiction of what I’ve experienced over the past 11 years since my daughter’s passing. It clearly shows the evolution of my grief. What I’m not saying is that it’s somehow better. That my life without Brittany is better. It is not. But what I am saying is that life can have joy again but it’s different. It’s not the same life. You cannot compare the two.

The old life is what it is …. the old life. A life that has passed. Still lived but passed. And that my dear friends is why we will battle with grief all of our days. Once we understand that we can rebuild a life anew along with fond memories of the past. I will always have my bad days – days when I just don’t want to get up. I have less of those now and more days where I want to not only get up but get out and see the world and experience life. That is the lesson I learned from my daughter – live life to the fullest!

Until next time,

M

 

Self Discovery

In looking back over the past 11 years since my daughter’s death I’ve spent time reflecting and writing about who I am. Who I was. Who I will become. For some odd reason I thought that changing my hair color would allow me to disconnect from the mourning mother I’d become. That moving away from the heartbreak of a home I lived in would make me feel better. Uprooting my life and starting over would help me heal.

What I have found out is that grief goes where you are and stays with you despite my efforts to chase it away. It chases you down relentlessly and demands to be reckoned with. Writing was and continues to be the vessel for me to do that. I used to wrestle grief to the ground using my faith and my internal desire to prove I could flip it on its side and put it in a submissive state.

Oh the lessons grief has taught me over these many years. Yet I still keep making the same ole mistakes. Keep changing the image, rewriting my life, making something out of nothing. All important achievements when you are normally pursuing a career or life goal. But running from grief – it just does not work.

The scenario below is just one example of how I thought changing something about me would take me to a place I thought I wanted to go.

When Brit died I was a red-head, athletic and into fitness. Then her death took the wind out of my sails and I just did not care. After a few months of serious mourning I attempted to resume some semblance of a normal life. I decided living in my house was more of a detriment than a healthy thing. I packed up my home, put it up for sale and moved back to my hometown of Indy. After a year or so I got the bright idea to dye my hair platinum. I think it was one of my first real efforts at squashing who I was before. Running away from who I was in my past life.

Over the next eight or so years I stayed a platinum blonde and liked it. It was long, it was short and spiky, it was fun and sporty. For the most part. But last year there was something brewing in my spirit that I wanted to be a red-head again. Remembering that I truly liked being a red-head. I would sit and look at old pictures and think “I need to be a red-head again” So the transition began and there I was a red-head again.

I looked somewhat like I did in 2006 just a few more wrinkles and a few more pounds. In the whole transition after Brit’s death, I lost my mojo for athleticism. When I looked in the mirror – I thought I’d see the old me – but what I realized is I was seeing the old me through the lens of a hurting heart. I thought I wanted my old self back but what I really was seeking was my old life. A huge epiphany for me.

I realized that as much as I tried, I will never be the old me. Because the old me died the moment my daughter took her last breath on October 13th, 2006 at 6:55 am. That was a shot to the heart and as I stood in front of the mirror, I understood it one morning that I had to stop trying to go back. I needed to go forward and be who I am today. The growth from that moment took 11 years to achieve. God has been so patient with me. My family, my friends all have been patient with me. Standing by me supporting me and allowing me the space and support I needed to become who I am today.

I’m now back to a platinum blonde with short spiky hair that has a hint of lavender. It’s a reflection of my spirit. I’m different and unique. I am a right-brained, creative woman in a left-brained corporate world. And I love it. It challenges me on every level. I feel like I’m making a difference, well most days I do.

So all of this self discovery I went on just put me off track. I put my faith in God who set me upright after Brit’s death and helped me dust myself off and put one foot in front of the other. He put me back on track and now my job is to complete His plan.  My role is to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to help newly bereaved parents in any way I can by sharing my story. I also need to complete something that has been weighing on me for so long and that is to complete my book on grief.

Lastly I want to start a foundation to send kids diagnosed with Crohn’s disease to Camp Oasis every year. It is very expensive camp and many parents cannot afford to pay the tuition. But the joy and acceptance that occurs at this camp for these kids can be life changing for them. It was for my girl.

The lesson is all of this is: you can’t go back because that is not the plan; the plan is to move forward, share, love, support, walk along side of and make a difference on this earth.

Until next time,

M

Homesickness

Reposting this article from 2010 as it hit me hard this morning. I was in a place that can only be described as heartsick. Today 7 years later, I can say love has helped heal that and I’m so grateful for that. But make no mistake my heart is still broken and miss my daughter – everything about her – each and every day of my life. That will never change.

In this article my pain was poured out for all to see. It was clear to me this morning that her death impacted me on so many levels. But it was my faith that restored my hope in the future. God has never turned his back on me or his plan for me. It was me that kept getting in the way of His plan. Now I try to be more open to his guidance and when I tend to stray off course, He gently reminds me I need to get back to what I know and He knows is best for me.

https://mysoulspeaks.blog/2010/08/19/the-burden-of-homesickness/

Until next time,

m