The NOT-Newly Bereaved

I have been trying since the fifteenth anniversary of Jason’s death to figure out how to put into words what it’s like to be this far along on this endless journey of grief…and yet still hurt so much. How one song can take me back to a time before Jason died. How one sight or sound can transport me to a time before Jason died…or to the night he died. We become experts at wearing masks, so we aren’t judged for not getting over the death of our child or not “moving on” by now. The author of this blog has put into words what I have been trying to figure out how to say.

~Becky

Bereaved Parents

Earlier this evening, a gal asked some questions for a group discussion she will be taking part of this week. It stopped me in my tracks momentarily because, quite honestly, I’ve never been asked such questions. Those of us that have traveled this journey for some years are ‘expected’ to have ‘gotten over it’ by now. In the world of psychology, if your grief has continued on past one or two years, they consider it ‘compounded’ or ‘dysfunctional’ grief. They speak of things in which they have no true knowledge.

Nope. It’s plain and simple grief…and all grief is complicated.

We do move forward on this journey and it does change over time, as most things do. However, IT STILL HURTS! No one outside of grief groups asks me about my son. Or, if it’s the first time they learn that I have a son that died, they ask how…

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Poignant Days

There are days when I feel your absence so acutely,

Days that remind me of what was,

Days that remind me of what could have been,

Days that remind me of what I wish with all my heart had been.

This is one of these days, and I miss you so much.

I love you, Jason.

 

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

International Bereaved Mother’s Day

From https://thelifeididntchoose.com:

18268565_697026167165887_4661629661358390851_nInternational Bereaved Mother’s Day is observed the Sunday before Mother’s Day in the United States. May 7, 2017.

I didn’t even know such a day existed until I was a mom that needed it.

For those of us who have children in heaven, setting aside a day to acknowledge that unique mother/child relationship is helpful.

Traditional Mother’s Day is meant to be a time of celebration. A day when children send cards or flowers or give gifts to honor their mom and let her know that years spent pouring into their lives are appreciated.

Lots of church pews and restaurant tables are filled with family as children come home to be with mom.

But our child can’t come home.

That makes Mother’s Day complicated for me.

It means that while I am thrilled to spend it with the children who can make it home, there is always a tinge of sadness to the celebration. And I hate that. Because they deserve a whole-hearted mother.

So I’m thankful this other day exists. Thankful for a day when I can think about and speak about and embrace the child that won’t be with me next weekend.

Because our child is STILL our children. They’re still very much a part of our hearts. And I need to be able to speak that aloud for others to hear.

Some mamas will be drawing or painting hearts on their hands and writing their missing child’s name inside as a beautiful outward testimony to an inward reality. Every day we carry our missing child in our hearts.

international bereaved mothers heart brave and courageous

So if you know a bereaved mother, give her a hug today.

Make time and give space for her to share.

And then listen, love and lift her up.

 

https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2017/05/06/international-bereaved-mothers-day/

Edit:

PLEASE NOTE: I have changed the above citation to give credit to the original author of this post. When I first wrote this post, I had originally given credit to the Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GrievingMothers.org/, which is where I first read it. The Facebook page did not cite the original author, which was not the right thing to do. Melanie at https://thelifeididntchoose.com contacted me when she saw my post to let me know this had been plagiarized from her original post. She is the original author. I always try to give credit to the author of a writing or photograph, because I understand how hard it is and how personal it is to write about the death of a child. My apologies to Melanie and to those who read this blog.

~Becky

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

Beauty

 

I have found that, since Jason died, I crave beauty. Sometimes that craving is so strong I can hardly contain it. I feel like I’m always looking for a beautiful place to go for a drive or place to take pictures, especially on weekends. Beautiful days, golden sunrises or sunsets, foggy mornings, raindrops on flowers – all make me want to skip work and find someplace to take photographs so that I can capture the beauty. I drive through the Biltmore Estate again and again to take photographs of the various flowers as they bloom (thank goodness for season passes!). We drive the Blue Ridge Parkway each weekend in the fall, looking for a perfect place to capture the autumn colors or a sunset. It’s as though I am trying to capture beauty to compensate for the brokenness I feel and for the depth of grief I try to hide. I’ve written about this a couple of times, and have posted links here to those posts.

The picture above from Ellie’s Way came up on my Facebook feed this morning, and made me think about the time six months after Jason’s death that one of Joe’s contracts (the Westin Hotel Seattle) gave us a wonderful gift of beauty when we were so exhausted and in need of a time away. I am forever grateful for their kindness; I don’t think we could have made it without it.

It also made me very aware of how much I crave beauty. I don’t think I will ever get my fill, because that brokenness and grief will always be with me and inside of me.

~Becky

https://onewomansperspective02.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/beauty-for-ashes/

https://onewomansperspective02.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/is-there-beauty-under-this-grief/

https://onewomansperspective02.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-one-thing-of-beauty-in-each-day/

https://onewomansperspective02.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/hawaii-a-respite/

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

All photographs are specifically taken by and owned by Rebecca R. Carney and may not be copied or saved without permission.

Easter Just Isn’t the Same Any More

IMG_6927Easter just isn’t the same any more, not since Jason died.

Growing up in the home of a pastor, we always celebrated Easter in a special way. New dresses, new shoes, special radio program prepared by the “Singing Knudson’s,” special music and message for church service. We, of course, did none of the Easter bunny stuff at all. It was all about celebrating the burial and resurrection of Jesus.

1988 Easter  36.jpgWe continued the traditions after Joe and I got married and our kids were born. I bought or sewed new clothes for the kids. I made a new dress for myself. I got up really early on Easter Sunday morning and put together the kids’ Easter baskets, filling them with things I had been secretly collecting for weeks. I put the baskets in front of their bedroom doors to find when they first woke up. After breakfast, off we went to church, bright and early on Easter Sunday morning, to celebrate our risen Savior. We went out to lunch after the service, clothed in our Sunday finest. We had Easter egg hunts, either in the park or at our house, with Joe hiding the eggs over and over again for the kids to find. One year, my mom came to visit us for Easter. It was so much fun. Easter was full of fun and joy.

After Jason died, it seemed as though we tried to carry on with the way things had been. We tried to be “normal,” like we used to be. When your world shatters and everything you know changes or disappears, I suppose you try to hold on to what you know in an effort to find your bearings again. Joe had gone back to work, and Jenna and I had gone back to college a week after Jason died. Since Jenna was participating in the Running Start program (going to college and receiving both high school and college credits while still in high school), she needed to complete her credits in order to graduate. So, we went back to school. The car she had shared with Jason had been destroyed in the accident, so we rode to school together until we could find a car for her.

Easter 2002 was on March 31st, just four weeks after Jason died. On Easter Sunday morning, we got up, got dressed and got ready to go to church. As we started to drive to church, Jenna told us she just couldn’t go. Joe and I realized that we just couldn’t go, either. We turned around and went back home, sat on the bed and cried and cried and cried. It was a horrible day, our first “holiday” without Jason.

I think that was the day I began to realize that I didn’t have to – I couldn’t – carry on the way things had been in the past. The “normal” I had known was gone. It was just a very small inkling of realization, one that I would continue – and keep continuing – to learn. I didn’t have to push my family or myself to keep trying to carry on as usual, because the “usual” was no more. I wasn’t the same. None of us were the same. We didn’t have to go to Easter Sunday service four weeks after Jason died, just because it was something we always had done. We needed to do what we felt we could do, what we wanted or needed to do for ourselves.

I wish someone had told me this way back then, that it was okay to give myself permission not to keep on trying to do things the way they had been done. I kept trying to be strong, kept trying to put on a good face, kept trying to go on the way I had before. It was so exhausting trying to act like I had “before.” That’s the thing, though. For a parent whose child has died, there is a very clear line between the “before” and the “after.” Nothing is the same. Nothing will ever be the same. Easter – and all holidays – can never be the same. How could they be? There is a huge hole in our families, in our lives, in our celebrations. We just have to find a way to find new meaning in those events or special days, and new traditions or ways to celebrate.

I am thankful for the hope that Easter represents: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as a way for us to reconcile our sinful, human natures with the holiness of God, Jesus Christ’s victory over death when he rose from the grave, and the promise of eternal life after death. Without the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, I would have no hope of seeing Jason again. And I am so incredibly thankful for that hope.

My precious Jason, I miss you in this Easter season and every day. I love you. I look forward to the day I will see you again.

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney