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

 

Question about Non-Profits for Helping Bereaved Parents

I have had a project in my mind for a long time – a non-profit for helping and supporting bereaved parents. I don’t want to duplicate what others have done, but I have wanted to do something to help. Whatever I do, I want it to be entirely relevant and workable.

What I have in mind is something that’s very ambitious – or at least could be in the long run – so I’m not sure if I have the wherewithal to do anything that ambitious, and I don’t think I can do it alone. My heart is telling me that now may be the time. I say that out loud with fear and trepidation, as I haven’t said those words to hardly anyone and I’ve never outlined what I have in mind to anyone.

So, my question is this: Do you know of any non-profit organizations that specifically help and provide resources for bereaved parents? If so, what is their focus, size, any other specifics? Could you please also provide a web link, if one is available? If you have started a non-profit, what has been your process/experience? If you don’t want to put anything public on this site, you can email me at onewomansperspective@hotmail.com.

Thank you.

~Becky

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

Horrible Week

I’m just going to put this out there. It’s only Wednesday and this has been a horrible week so far. As a matter of fact, the past few weeks have been just awful. Friday is the anniversary of Jason’s death, and that by itself is so much to handle. It hurts so much that Jason is gone. Joe and I still ask each other, “How can he be gone?” Our precious boy.

Add on top of that someone at work that I truly cared for has carelessly hurt me so deeply that I can’t even put into words how I feel, and, even though I have done absolutely nothing wrong and have done nothing to deserve the way I’ve been treated, has made a whole lot of people question my loyalty, integrity and character. He has made me look bad in order to look good, through no fault of my own. I don’t know what to do and I have no way to defend myself. I feel like I am holding together and forging ahead by sheer willpower, but I’m so very weary and so very hurt.

I just keep reminding myself to live my life so that Jason would be proud of me. I want to be proud of who I am and how I have treated others. I am responsible for my own actions and not those of others. As I said in an earlier post, “I want to live my life worthy and upright. I want Jason to be proud of me, to look down from that great cloud of witnesses and say to those around him, “Look at her!! That’s my mom!!” ” In my mind I picture that, when we stand before God in heaven, the story of our lives and how we treated others will be played on the big screen for all to see. Or, as the Bible says, “…There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that not will be made known. What you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops. (Luke 12:3)” I want the story of my life to be one that I can be proud of.

Keep me in your prayers this week. I really need it.

~Becky

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

Silent Grief – The “Aloneness” of Grief

Our Western culture has inadvertently conditioned us to avoid death and grief. Our society tends to isolate those who are struggling with illness, pain, death and grief — hoping that if we don’t see their pain and struggles, the pain doesn’t exist, and won’t alter our tidy and predictable lives.  We tend to behave as if death and pain are contagious diseases, ones that if we stay away from, we can avoid contracting ourselves.

I don’t believe this insensitivity is intentional. Society has not prepared us for how to deal with pain and loss. We are brought up to believe that life will remain predictable and under our control. Then when the unexpected, death or illness, does happen in our lives, we are ill-equipped to deal with the emotional pain, and upheaval, that it brings. Society subliminally sends us the message that we are expected to quietly bear our pain, while still maintaining our daily lives, ‘getting over’ our grief in a timely manner, while not unnecessarily disrupting anyone else’s life.

Unfortunately, for those grievers who are experiencing these life altering challenges, this unintentional alienation by those we were looking to for support, only further increases our suffering. The griever’s life is in pieces and we have no idea how to start to put the pieces together again.

Society’s expectations of the griever are unrealistic. For a griever who has lost a loved one, who was an integral part of their life, nothing will ever be the same, and the pain will always be there. Life is turned upside down. Learning to live with pain and grief is a process and one that cannot be forced.

https://theothersideofcomplicatedgrief.com/2016/02/10/grief-in-western-society-why-we-feel-so-alone/

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…Some of the details…are often kept quiet and hidden, our ‘silent grief’, as if these feelings are somehow shameful and aberrant. I have found that when we keep the details in the dark we are left feeling even more alone, isolated, and often doubting our sanity.

http://stillstandingmag.com/2014/01/silent-grief/

 

The promise of spring

 

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After Jason died, my husband, daughter and I had to drive by the crash site nearly every day on our way to wherever we were going – work, school, mall, etc. It was an incredibly difficult thing to do, an in-your-face reminder of the horrific event that happened at that very site.

In an effort to bring beauty into the darkness that spot represented, I bought daffodil and crocus bulbs and planted them on the side of the road – varieties of bright, yellow daffodils for Jason and purple crocuses for Alina. Alina loved the color purple, and bright, yellow flowers have always seemed to me to represent Jason’s bright, sunshine-y spirit and kind heart. That first year, I planted bulbs among the remnants of shattered glass from the cars that collided there.

Crocuses and daffodils bloom early in the spring, very near to the anniversary date of Jason’s and Alina’s deaths. As March 3rd approached, I watched for the promise of spring, for those bulbs to push through the ground with hope and beauty.

I wish I could say that beautiful daffodils and crocuses thrived and came up each spring as a symbol of new life from the harshness of death, as symbol of the hope of spring after a dark winter, but they didn’t. No matter how many times I planted the various bulbs or how much I tried to prepare that hard soil on the side of the road, they did not grow well or flourish. One year, though, a few plants pushed their way through the ground and the blooms actually opened on March 3rd. I gave it my best effort in trying to make beauty out of the ugliness.

My husband and I were out at the Biltmore Estate this past weekend, and I saw these flowers (in the picture above) – one little purple crocus looking up at a group of bright yellow daffodils. It reminded me of my efforts to bring the beauty of new life from the ugliness of death.

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Jason loved to giving flowers to the people he cared about. When he was in the play “Our Town,” he brought a rose to every girl who was in the show on the night of the final performance. He gave flowers to me, to Jenna, to his sweetheart. He gave daisies to a friend for her birthday. As a little boy, he would pick dandelions and bring them to me.

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Jason loved the movie “You’ve Got Mail.” When Joe Fox (Tom Hank’s character) brings Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan’s character) flowers when she was sick, he brought daisies and she said, “They’re so friendly. Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?”  Yes, they are friendly flowers, indeed. They remind me of my boy and the kindness of his heart.

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Beautiful, friendly flowers remind me of you, my precious boy. I miss you. I love you.

~Mom

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

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