Friday, May 11, 2012

Will I be Strong?

How will I measure up? What kind of friend will I prove to be? I have often wondered, usually in the lateness of night, or in a quiet moment. I found this on another blog, and had to share, along with my own questioning heart.

10 Ways to Help Parents With Grieving Hearts

Ruth Stoecker

1. Be there. One mom put it so well. She said, “It’s not the words you spoke; it’s the tear you left on my cheek.” Commit to walk with me through the valley no matter how long it takes. It may take awhile. Statistics show that a parent is considered newly bereaved for five years. I may tell you I want to be alone. Yes, you should honor that. But know that I don’t mean forever, just maybe right now. What I really want is for you to be there.

Will I? Can I? Or will I say the wrong thing in an effort to help in some small way? Can I truly just "be there"?

2. Pray for me. Don’t stop, although I may even tell you to. My faith has been shaken and I feel as though I have been betrayed. I question how God could have allowed this to happen. I may even be angry with Him for a time. I need your prayers. I am too wounded and weak to pray for myself.

I know I can do this one, for in the most honest times, it's all I am clinging to. I know that the Lord holds Esther so close, and we are clinging to His strength, His guidance in the most difficult of times.

3. Don’t expect very much from me, especially those first few months. It is a challenge for me to get out of bed and on a good day I might remember to brush my teeth. Even though my world has stopped, life continues. I have to cook, clean, take care of my remaining family, and often go back to work. Help me. Bring over a meal. Take my children to the park or to a movie. Do my laundry. Run to the grocery store for me. Don’t wait until I ask you; I probably won’t.

4. Don’t offer advice or give me clichés. I don’t need a sermon on how best to grieve. Don’t offer me clichés such as, “Time heals all wounds,” or “It is God’s will.” Don’t assume that you know how I feel. Even other bereaved parents don’t truly know my grief. We are each unique, so don’t lecture me. Just walk with me and be there.

What will I say?  How will I say what is on my heart, the hurt, the sadness, the loss and mourning, when your hurt, your sadness, your loss and mourning is cutting so much deeper than mine?  Will I be there?

5. Say the name of my child. I love to hear it! Remember a story about him and share it with me. Let me talk about him; don’t change the subject. I may tell you the same things over and over and over, but please just be there.

This I won't have trouble with.  We loved her so richly while she was growing in Rhonda.  We planned, we prepared, we spoke of the future and our adventures to come.  Her beauty and her touch on so many hearts will be something to share forever.

6. Accept that I am different now. I will never be the person I was before. A mom told me the other day that she was watching old videos and as she saw herself laughing and having fun with her daughter, she missed her. She also said, “I missed me.” We have lost our innocence. We have lost a portion of ourselves, and we are different now.

This is where I say I am "mourning".  Things changed.

This is a hard one for me. I feel that our friendship as it was before changed on the night we got the news. Suddenly the movie that we had been trying to fit into our schedule had little to do with the reality of now. I feel that loss, each time we talk the hard talk. I feel the loss of what was and the unknown of what our new life will be. Does that make sense? Sometimes I wonder. Selfish, definitely. Painful? Very much. Instead of planning our next adventure, our next trip, our next batch of cookies or concert.....we have grief, for loss, memories, mourning...

7. Don’t judge me. I may wear a T-shirt with his picture and visit his grave every day, sometimes twice a day. It may make you uncomfortable if my office cubicle looks like a shrine to the one I lost. Please give me some time.

8. Watch for the signs. Be alert to behavior that may be dangerous. There are those who cannot move beyond their pain; encourage them to talk to someone in the professional field. Search out a support group for them, and offer to go to it with them.

How will I measure up? What kind of friend can I be when I am too hurting? I wonder....

Cooper's 1st Day of 3 Day Preschool

What a wonderful change this morning was! Cooper is eager to go to school, and all week we've tried hyping it up for him. Knowing what a dismal playgroup year we had with him last year, I couldn't help but have doubts and lingering worry over how he would actually do starting back up at Catch The Son. However, I loved Teacher Dana for Tommy, and she was able to pull him through his rough times starting out there, so I had hope going into this day. Cooper was ready, even ate a bite of breakfast before heading out with his huge red backpack that he insisted on taking. I think he put in a stuffed dog and his two dubbies, as we reminded him that he can't suck on his dubbies at school. He didn't put up much fuss, actually, so it was really looking good. Throughout the week, Coop would say, "You will stay with me at my school, right?" He wanted that assurance and was thinking of last year when we would stay and play with him the whole time. We told him again and again that he was a big boy, that we would stay a bit to get him settled in, but would need to go "to the office" and just check in on him. That seemed to satisfy him without too much fuss.
I took him that morning while John got Tommy up to his class. I stayed with him, standing in the back, as he jumped right in playing and exploring all the projects he had around him. After about 15 minutes, I gave him a hug and told him that I needed to check with the office for a few minutes. He didn't seem to care much either way, and quickly went off to play again. I stayed out in the hallway, peeking in on him. He was doing so great I eventually sat down in the hall to wait for John's arrival. We hadn't planned on it being this easy, though. When John arrived, I told him how good he was doing and that we probably should just let him play without going in again. Leaving him was a lot easier than I thought, and John's report later that he did great with the whole morning was quite a relief.

What a difference a summer makes! I can't believe how much change it was going from the tears and fuss of playgroup to this now. I can only hope that Coop continues to enjoy his time with Teacher Dana and all the new projects and fun he will have at his school!

In the pictures....Coop is excited about his big red backpack and Tommy is not excited for another day of school!

The Many Faces of Cooper

For several months now, Coop has taken to dressing up. At first it started out with a couple little Halloween outfits, like the puppy, the black kitty cat and the rather "business-tight" getup of the kangaroo and joey pouch costume. AND then there came the Indiana Jones explosion in our house, and suddenly there were multiple costume changes throughout the day to "be Indiana Jones", or maybe even "Doctor Jones". Scarfs flew through the house as "whips" and various acrobatic moves were launched from the couches and beds. Christmas brought it full circle with an authentic looking Indiana Jones hat from Santa/Grandma and a full on cowboy outfit that works better as Indiana from Nana and Papa Darrell. Full on Indiana Jones in THE HOUSE!
Aunt Barb and Uncle Stephen supplied the Soldier with weapons outfit and our outfits continue to grow. These treasures now turn in to "The mailman", the "Delivery Man", the "Hardware Sales Man", the "Garbage Man" and the "Restruction (Construction) Man", "Tackleback (for Hasselback in full football uniform), and "Worker-Man". You have to put on shoes, take off shoes, put on boots, take off boots, put on cleats, take off cleats, put on scarves, hats and different other accessories for each "man", so it can make for an interesting day to be in and out of outfits with each changing mood. Super fun, super times with our little Cooper!

Pictures to follow.