I Hear Your Voice

Every day, I hear him. I heard the last words he said to me and feel I am one of the few who was lucky enough to do so. ‘I love you, mom.’ Yes, those words I hear often. Mostly when I feel pretty down and sad, I hear Tim say those words exactly as he said them the night before he died. For a long time, I felt it was just me bringing those words up. Now I think he sends them to comfort me when I hurt too much for words in this world. So if you think you hear them, know this, you do. Pull the comfort they are offering you for they are for you and you alone. Feel their love, for they do send it continuously. This is what I have come to believe.

As I go through the Chemo, I feel Tim near by, rooting me on to continue this fight. I hear him telling me that everything is okay, that I have much to do yet before it is my time. I believe him, he should know, right? He has become one of the chosen, sent to carry me through in a way he could not have done here on earth. It does not make his loss any easier, yet still gives me the will to move forward. I miss him more than I will ever be able to express, but that is my burden to carry. Love never dies when your child has moved on, it only goes deeper, becomes painful for a long time, but still full of love.

This new crises in my life won’t overshadow the loss of my son, I don’t really see anything able to that except the loss of my living child and grandbabies and they would be right up there with him. I hope to not ever experience that. I finally have hope, joy, anticipation in my life again. It lives alongside the sorrow and maybe that is how it is suppose to happen. I have my down days, oh yeah, who doesn’t? That’s okay, he still will say ‘I love you, mom.’ It makes me cry and pulls me out of myself to look outward instead of staying inward.

I am half way through my chemo now and yes, it can be hard at times. Too many pills, too many bills, but I try not worry. I have a whole system of people who pick me up every day, sent me love prayers and blessing. I have prayer groups all over the U.S. and Canada and overseas. So many loving and caring people, how could I stay down for long, all I have to do is reach out and they are there. Thank you all, it’s be a rock road but you all try to remove the rocks that I may trip on. Thank you can never be enough, I love you. ‘Forever Mom.’


Grief’s Gifts

When we first loose someone we love, confusion comes to live in our lives. The deeper we loved them the stronger the confusion is and longer lasting. I have been through Two years four months and thirty days of confusion. Time makes a difference for as it goes along, the overwhelming senses of hurt, loss and pain change. One still feels the confusion, but it has softened a little. It’s little things like when you know you did something but you go back and find out it is not done. Times like those we start to wonder if we are also losing our minds. I think that loss in death changes the pathways our thoughts travel and closes off other paths. Some are for our own protection, others are for our lessons in life, yet still others are teaching us new ways to live without those we love. Such a hard, unending, process. The wheels of healing in any form are slow and agonizing.

Some of us are healing without realizing we are because we still feel, and probably will forever, the pain of loss. I don’t expect that to go away. I still cry for the son who loved me. Who wouldn’t? But I also laugh when others give me memories of some of the crazy stuff he would do that I didn’t know about. The kindnesses he showed to so many. The times he took the blame for others bad choices and actions because to him, that was being a true friend. So there are many things left to remind me of how wonderful, ornery, bratty and sweet he was. I cried the other day because he was not here to hold my hand as I go through this cancer. I realized that was selfish. My daughter holds my hand any time I need her and I need her a lot, she just doesn’t know it. I hear her voice and feel better.

The gifts that loss has brought me is a closer, deeper understanding of my family and friends. It gifted me with many people that love me for who I am and would help me on a moments notice. It gave me a greater appreciation of those around me, a deeper love. In the beginning, I did not want love. Love hurts, so does loneliness and living only in your head and your memories. I find I can love now with complete honesty. I speak the truth no matter how hard it is for others to hear it. My interests have changed and that is good. I paint differently now, Keith says the whole style is different. I sing Karaoke, never never have I done something like that and I love it. I am going back to writing, but I know that has changed too, which, after someone reads my books they are probably glad for that. 🙂

I do smile more, laugh more and enjoy others company where once that seemed impossible. It is not a betrayal of the one you love, for they are right there with you, smiling, laughing and enjoying what you are doing. I take my grief out once a day and look at where I’ve been and wonder where I am going. There will always be times, at odd moments when I cry for my son, but at the same time he left me the gift of his son. I have the gift of my daughter and husband and so many others, friends and relatives alike. So I think what I am trying to say is: accept the gifts that grief brings you. They will not make up for your loss, but they will help you along your new pathways. Share your love. “Forever Mom.”

The Other Side of GoodBye

It is hard, sometimes, to tell people what is going on in your life. When we lose someone we love, it becomes impossible to express ourselves in terms that would be understood because at the time of their death, our language changed, our thoughts, our lives, changed. We also know that along with the ones who are standing strong with us, there are the ones who are hoping we fail to survive, who applaud everything bad that happens to us. So when more bad happens, we tell very few people if we tell anyone at all.

Last year, when Tim had been gone 1 year and 9 months, I came to the end of trying to fight to live. I stepped to the other side of goodbye. I did not even know that was where I was at. I just woke one morning and I was done. I didn’t know I was in the middle of a complete break down. My husband, daughter and doctor saw what I couldn’t. Their quick action turned it all around. I call where I went a ‘two week’ vacation. It was there that I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression, PTSD, and suicidal idealization. At a time when nothing mattered anymore, I learned to walk again, to live again, to care again. No one else knew about this because no one came around and really, I am glad for that. When I look back and see myself, it scares me to see who that person was.

It was still a fight to want to live, but now I had the tools to help me fight for it. By December I was doing, mentally, better than I had for two years. This is when they found that my gall bladder was in big trouble and had to come out. Okay, not a big deal, no problem. It did not send me into a tail spin or make me take steps backward. But it did make me pay closer attention to my health. I knew something else was going on inside, just not what it was. The doctors found I had hypothyroidism, okay, not a big deal, it’s treatable. Still, something did not feel right. By February, we found out that, yup, something was not right after all.

I had the doctor tell me over the phone. I’m glad i did. When she said, ‘Barbara, you have cancer,’ I stopped listening. I did not take a few steps backward, mentally, I went all the way back to the other side of goodbye. Two options, surgery or no surgery. This runs through my mind a lot. I haven’t asked the doctor yet about the odds. Will I live longer without it? I’ve known so many who had surgery for cancer and died within months. We lost my sister-in-law to it. I am not scared, but I worry about those around me. I know it is hard on them and I cannot take away their fear. A new fight has entered my life to go along with the fight already there. How much can one person take? I’ll let you know. To those who say that I deserve everything that happens to me, know this, I don’t deserve it any more than you do, those who love me do not deserve what they are going through.

I am suppose to have surgery soon. They say it may take more than three hours. I sit here and wonder if I want this. You can’t help but think about the ‘what if’s,’ I think about being with my family here and seeing my son again. As much as I love him, I love my daughter and grandsons just as much. So I will take this one step at a time an try to fight hard to stay with them. All of it is almost too much to think about, too much going on in my brain. Good thing I have my family and friends to lean on, they are my heart, they are worth fighting for. ‘Forever Mom’


End of the Line

This is a hard one to write and harder yet to share. Distance has not made the horror of it any softer nor has time. I don’t share this for pity, I share it so when one of you hit this point, maybe you’ll remember this and do what is needed to save yourself. I was not able to save myself and am so thankful for a strong man and a wonderful daughter who saw what was happening and acted quickly.

This last September, I hit the end of the line. If not for the quick actions on my family and friends part, I would not be here to write this. In the old days, they called it a nervous breakdown. Now they call it Severe Clinical Depression with PTSD and a few other medical terms thrown it. I called it, the end. I was done. The loss of my son brought me to my knees, the things that happened after his loss brought me to the end.

I didn’t know that I was so deep in the grief and sorrow. I really thought I was handling everything okay. Losing a child takes you to places you have never been, places you have no idea how to navigate for you can never be prepared for them. Nothing you know in your life can prepare you for the type of pain losing a child dumps on you. It is all so sudden and raw, it leaves you reeling from the shock of it all.

In the beginning, I could not sleep and when I did it only lasted for a couple of hours. After months of that, I asked my doctor for meds to help me sleep. Ambiant not only helps you sleep, it blocks the dreams and it was the dreams I could not handle. In time, I started abusing Ambiant. After all, if it could block that part of the brain in sleep, it could also block some of it when awake. Yeah, it worked. But like most things, after a while the pills did not work so one takes more and more and more. It’s not hard to accidentally overdose without realizing you have.

By the time my family realized what was happening, it was already too late. We become experts on hiding what is happening to us. So when someone asks how a family could not know what was going on with their loved one, remember this… we do not want you to know. We hide it and hide it well. We do not want you walking that path of pain with us so we think we are helping you by hiding our pain.

I still cannot talk about what happened that day. Even thinking about it causes me to shudder. I had to go away for a while. The place I went to helped me to see things more clearly. They helped me to understand why. The day came when I could look back over it all from the day we lost Tim to the point that the end came for me. Seeing it clearly helps. While we are in the struggle of grief, we do not see what is happening, and that is the danger for us. The things we do we do with the idea that we are okay. We aren’t okay. We also hide a lot from ourselves.

I am slowly learning to deal with the PTSD with the help of a wonderful woman. I know now that I cannot do this alone, most of us can’t but we don’t see it that way. We hear the ‘you are so strong’ crap and try hard to be strong, again hiding the truth. It is not a sin to need help, to seek help but we feel it is. For so long, I dismissed the idea of needing to be in a grief group, needing therapy, needing help. Not anymore. That day taught me that not being strong is okay. Tears are okay. Missing Tim is okay. And most of all, it is okay to NOT be the person everyone seems to expect you to be. You need to be you, your mental health needs to come first. It is okay to walk away from people and situations that threaten your mental health without guilt or regret.

With help, I have learned to let go of the hurt people caused me as what they did is on them, not me. I have a long way to go but now I have help to get there. I will probably be on Antidepressants for the rest of my life and that is okay too. They help and in the end, that is what matters. Take help wherever you can get it. I am learning to take control of who I am and appreciate me. Some days, I will falter and Wow, that is okay too. After all, I am only human. I’ll always miss and love Tim, that is human too.

The holidays are a hard time. I try to look to those I love who are still here and it does help. They have held my hand and loved me even when I felt unlovable. What amazing people I have in my life and in the throes of grief, I almost missed that. I see them now, fully. Oh how I love these people. Oh how I need them. I am so grateful. I am Barbara, mom, wife, friend, human. ‘Forever Mom.’


The Wall

Grief, when it comes, is not gradual. It hits like a tsunami, unexpected and violent. Suddenly, we are in the deepest, darkest pit with no way out. What we may not realize is that we are on a slide, falling to the bottom. When that bottom comes, it is as sudden as the grief for there is a solid wall waiting at the end. Some of us have hit that wall. We cannot go any deeper and there is no ladder leading back up … loss of hope, joy, purpose.

A while back, I slammed into that wall. If not for the perception of family and friends, I would not be writing this right now, or ever. That last day is etched into my mind as permanent as granite. I won’t go into detail as to what happened but I will say this: We learn to hide our pain and in doing so, we also hide deeper troubles. It’s not a deliberate thing for we don’t see, from an outside view, just what is happening to us. We do not know when grief trips over into sever depression. To us, we are still grieving.

I believe that true hell is what we suffer here on earth. Maybe we will be one of the ones who come through that place and are able to look back from the other side. Some of us won’t. I can look back now and see what happened, see from many angles the path that was took. My feet were not set on that path with conscious thought, but still, it is where my sorrow lead me.

When one is tempered by the fires of grief, they come out different. They see the world and it’s people different. There is no going back though we will try to for a while. Part of our fight is against ourselves for we do not want to let go of who were were. Problem is, who we were is gone. We have to learn to accept who we are becoming. I will always be Tim’s mom, but now, I am his mom without him. That hurts and the anger I feel because of it is what I have to let go of. It will not change the fact that he is gone.

When I look back over the last 22 months, it is painful. I see so much more now then when I was living it. I thought I was handling it well, only to realize that I was not handling it at all. I went though each day wrapped in a cocoon of grief that was not easing but becoming a shroud. We think that we will do this alone, that we don’t need any help. I know I thought that. Turns out that, for me, this is not true. We are hard-wired to seek out others like ourselves, yet we fight it every step of the way.

One of the truest things about life is death. There is no natural order to it, no parent before child, it has no preferences. Of all the things we will deal with, death is the hardest. It leaves us helpless, hopeless and joyless. We can do nothing to change it, make it different or fix it. It stuns the mind, freezes the heart. It will destroy us if we let it. It is a time in your life when you are beyond exhaustion, unable to think about anything else, unable to function. All you can do for a while is cling to that buoy until you find the will to swim.

I am one of the lucky ones. Strange to think that way when I have lost my son, but it is true. I am lucky that there are those who care enough to see what was happening and act on it. I am lucky that I am loved beyond measure. I am lucky to have the family and friends that I do, for they were there when it mattered the most. I am lucky that I have come out to the other side of this. That does not mean I love my son any less or miss him less. It means that there was a ladder in that pit after all and I have started to climb. It means that I can tear down the wall that I hit so abruptly.

I guess that what I am trying to say is … don’t go it alone. You do not have to be alone. Seek out grief groups where you can actually see the people you are talking to and they can see you. Find a place where people will look you in the eyes with understanding because they have been where you are in some form or another. No one will ever know your pain, but they will know your grief. Step outside of your comfort zone before it becomes your prison cell without a key. Not all of us will hit that wall, but many of us will. It is scary and can be fatal. “Forever Mom.”




Dementor on My Shoulder

I have been unable to write for a while. I need to tell you why, but I am not sure where to start for this ‘stage’ of my life has come as a shock to me. By the time I am done, I hope you will understand what I’ve said, the meaning of this ‘new’ development in this quest to survive grief. This is something I really don’t want to talk about, but there may be others that will reach this new emotion and have the crap scared out of them. I need them to know that it can happen and what to do if it does. It is so frightening, and it is the end of the line.

About five months ago, we went to an amusement park with friends. That evening, I became physically ill and assumed that it was something I ate or touched. We all know how easy germs are transferred, especially in crowds. I waited for it to get better, stayed hydrated, took care of myself, but it progressively got worse and new things were being added to it. After four weeks, yeah, a long time to hang on to what we thought was a flu bug, I went to the doctor. After many tests, nothing was found. Nothing wrong with the blood, no germs that shouldn’t have there… nothing. The illness continued to get worse. As the weeks went by, I became agitated, nervous, upset, scared, dizzy, nauseous, unable to eat or sleep, my thoughts no longer my own, and toward the end, suicidal. Nothing mattered anymore, there was no reason, no help, no hope. The things that were happening within my mind were so horrible, I did not want to live. I could not imagine living like that the rest of my life.

A couple weeks ago, I reached the end, I was done and ended up in the hospital for two days while they did the most god awful tests possible on me. They found… nothing. Through all of this, my condition got worse. My husband was scared and if you knew him, you would know that nothing scared him. We knew that it was more than grief going on, but we didn’t know what. So we decided that I should see a therapist. Those who know me know that I have no use for therapists. One bad experience and all that. This is how bad my condition had become. Husband said I was going from zero to suicidal in an instant, the change so fast, you did not see it coming. I have never been a suicidal person, have had regular depression that everyone has at one time or another. Who wants to believe they have reached that point?

Between the therapist and the Doctor, I have be diagnosed with deep, clinical depression. From what I understand, it is the worse depression possible. It is not because the grief is still with me, or that I did not ‘let it go,” A lot of it was brought on by what we had to suffer after Tim died. All the bottled up emotions and words that were kept inside. Everything we took in from people who wanted to be cruel. It all added up in the end. Deep, Clinical Depression does not go away on its own. This is hard for me for I have never asked for help from anyone. Depression, if it is bad enough, will manifest itself in the physical as well as mental. I am now one of the Prozac baby’s.

Have you read the Harry Potter series?  Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself… soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.—Description of Dementors[src 

This is how I feel, that all the joy, hope, happiness and good memories have been sucked out of my world and I will never be happy again. The helpless of these feelings leave you in a dark place that is hard to come out of until you hit that point where you just want it done and over. It hurts my heart to know that my son lived worse than this for 34 years and I cry, wondering how he was so strong to last that long. It is so hard for one to understand depression until you have it, and even you are confused by it. So many think that you can just walk right out of it, that it is yourself that is keeping you there. It’s not, you are helpless against this demon. I never thought I would say this but if any of you feel even a little of what I have wrote, see someone. Do it now, don’t wait until it is too late. It was hard for me to go, to accept that I might need outside help. Pride goes before the fall. With love ‘Forever Mom’

Blog Stealer

I am writing this for all you who blog, which is a lot of people. There are people out there who will steal your blog and repost it as their own. Until today, I did not think about it. One very nice lady let me know that after she found my blog she also found my writings on a mans wall with some of the words changed to fit his loss of his wife and posted as his writings. Now, I don’t know if he actually lost his wife. The reason I say this is because why would someone take your words and make them their own unless it was for less than honest reasons. I wrote, often about the loss of my son and found on his wordpress many of those same writings changed to be about a female instead of male, but my writing just the same. I thought on that all morning and decided I could not allow him to do that. To me it was wrong.

I did not rile at this man nor was I mean. I simply stated that I was not writing that to slap him but more as a question. More or less why he would take my writings, change a few little things, sometimes the title, and call it his own. I told him that maybe he did not realize that it was bad form to take others writing that way and in the future would he please post my name as the writer. I though maybe he didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong and my bringing it to his attention might stop him from doing that to other bloggers. But I also wanted to know why he was doing it. So I waited most of the day for a reply or acknowledgement of some kind. Huh? All I can say is maybe he knew perfectly well what he was doing after all.

As I said, I waited for a reply. The reply? was no reply. Instead he either blocked me from his blog or he removed himself from wordpress. I am inclined to think I was blocked. I know that some people generate this kind of lie to gather attention. So, without his ability to say to me he was sorry and wouldn’t do it again, I can only conclude he is one of those people who either suffered no loss at all or are using their loss for low level reasons. A sincere ‘sorry’ would have been fine. Using others words as his own is not fine. It did upset me on a level that I was not aware of until I had thought the whole thing through. These are honest writings of my life without my son so how dare he use them for his own ends. I find it disgusting and unethical.

This is what I have to say to you Joseph P. (only name he used on his blog). I am putting your name on wordpress out there so others will not be fooled by you if you are still on here. I will search (and I know how to do it) until I find out who you really are and I will put that out there too. You have no right and no morals to use others grief to satisfy whatever morbid thing you have going on. I can only hope that in the long run you have not hurt anyone with your dishonesty. Sincerely grieving people read and search for help, answers, like minded people to help them through the worse days of their life. How dare you exploit that. If you had answered me, I would have believed otherwise but you made your position known. It is hard enough for us who have lost so much to trust and people like you make that worse. In instances like this, your words cannot be counted on to be your own or you to be honest.

Honesty in a grief ridden world is more important than most anything else we have to deal with. When one comes along and pulls that rug out from under us, we lose even that saving grace. I hope there are not others, but I know there probably are and I hope they are found out sooner rather than later. By the way, he started ending his blog by calling himself “a forever husband’, yeah, the gall. “FOREVER MOM.”

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