Let the good times roll….

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You haven’t seen any blog posts from me in the past few months.

Why? Am I done grieving?

No – I didn’t forget. That is not possible. But just as we have our moods change, influenced by the seasons or milestones in our lives, so too does a life with loss.

The summer months are good to me. They are not months filled with past memories of the harder times or contain the dates that mark sad or difficult anniversaries.

No – this is the time when I can put my grief in the back of my mind. It is always there but not immediately in my mind’s eye.

And to be honest I needed a break from the intensity of my grief.

I got to spend more time outside – as you see with my collage of outside fun.

I had a long weekend with my sisters, uncles and cousins. Success!! We finally got together as a family celebrating life and spending a fun time together.

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Weddings, birthdays, hikes, parades and pooltime.

We had such a short summer but I think I filled it the best I could spending time with people I love.

I miss Nolan every day. But here I am almost three years without him, and I feel my life is having more happy times, times where I really feel joy. I know he wants me to continue to live, to be happy.

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At our Compassionate Friends meeting we talk about our “new normal.” We are not the same person we were before our child died. We can’t go back to our old self. This is our new normal. 

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I guess I am getting more comfortable with this side of normal. 

I saw God last Thursday

I saw God last Thursday.

I saw Him when I went to work and looked into the eyes of a beautiful newborn.

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I saw Him….

  • in the next exam room with a grumpy teenager and a mother struggling to address her concerns of her son’s health
  • in the hallway with my staff helping each other with the tasks of our office in care of our patients
  • in the grocery store where I saw a friend and got a warm hug of support
  • at home- for the quick minute I saw my husband and my son, gave them each a kiss, and left to join my sister at the nursing home

I saw God… In the nurses and aides that cared for my aunt and all the residents at Colonial.

I saw God when he welcomed my aunt Home. 

 

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I see God everyday.

In you.

In me.

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Margaret Ann Stryck

February 26, 1938 – May 2, 2019

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I love you Aunt Marge. I will miss you. A lot. 

Too much loss

I learned a new term in the grief vernaculum: cumulative grief.

It can be grief due to multiple losses at once, or repeated losses over a short period. A “short” time is relative too. It can be loss of loved ones or friends, in addition to loss of independence, identity, home or purpose, as the elderly in their late years can experience.

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Cumulative grief can be more difficult and complex.

Another difficult type of grief is the loss of a child. Yes – adult child too.

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I take an inventory of my last 29 months: I have lost my 19 year old son, two dear aunts, a loving uncle, and now my sisters and I are caring for our ailing aunt after her major stroke. …. 

Can you say GRIEF OVERLOAD???

Our Dreams

As I am ever the researcher I read about what I am experiencing. What to do, what not to do.

What can I do to take care of myself? I know self care is a priority. That is why I say no sometimes.

When I feel I have to wear my mask of “normalcy” too much, I take it off and I let my emotions out. I know I cannot ignore my feelings. And that means sometimes I want to be alone. Because I know my intense grief is not easy to be around and quite frankly it even brings me down sometimes. 

And sometimes I cry to the point of being tired of crying and feeling sad.

Other times I am good to be around others where the little things of life are talked and complained about and I feel I can relate. Lately these times are not as often as I would like, and that is hard, but it won’t be that way forever.

I cannot rush this time. Although it is really really hard to not feel tired from it and I wish I would have this intensely sorrowful time of my life be behind me, I cannot.

I loved all these people that are gone now. My love for them did not go away with their passing. Thus I grieve intensely. As much as I loved them intensely. 

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Grief and farts

Today I was looking at other grief support pages and found the best quote I read in a long time. After a really bad day this made me laugh:

“Anne Enright has a great line about bereavement in The Gathering – your grief is comparable to your farts: Basically, you can happily dwell in your own, but, dear god, you want nothing to do with someone else’s.”

                                                                                                              – Orla Ryan

 

download (2)I guess because I am a mom of boys this talk of farts is funny to me.

Orla also wrote how when you are grieving it is ok to joke about it – you get a free pass.

 

You have to joke sometimes when you are overwhelmed with grief. Maybe someone else doesn’t get your sense of humor, and it may be as well they can’t, because they are not dealing with the load of stress that grief brings to understand the punchline.

Thank you to my family and friends that share in my grief. That let me talk about Nolan and how I miss him and my parents and other family members.

I am used to bodily functions in my line of work. I have checked poopy diapers, sniffed urine soaked diapers and been peed, pooped and barfed on by my patients.

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So hanging out in a room smelling of farts is fine by me if it means I can cry and laugh and hug someone who also has deep grief like mine.

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Divine Love

a_little_deer_vintage_valentine_postcard-r60e4e431a10c412a9e659f4aea12810b_b8ubx_307For me Valentine’s Day is not a day for lovers – it is the day I celebrate my love with others.

 

Before I had kids I regarded the day as one of romance and all the Hallmark stuff. When Nolan and Sam were old enough I would have them make Valentine cards or projects to give to their grandparents and godmothers. I like giving out stickers and candy to my patients at the office. In their younger ages my boys got cute cards with candy wishing them a fun day from mommy and daddy.

In the teenage years the cards get a little serious and I share with them how much I love them and wish them joy and happiness.

It made me smile when we went through Nolan’s belongings and we found he kept a few of those Valentine’s Day cards.

During this hard month of February this is one day I focus on love and I feel happy.  The Beatles say it perfectly- “all you need is love.”

And you have it. Always . All the time.

I focus on the divine love that we all have. It unites us. 51635729_10218579971956082_6610603431943995392_n

So Happy Valentine’s Day from me.

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A holiday from grief

Vacation time.

Or as the British say – going on holiday.

When you have grief brain you cherish the days when you don’t cry. You still grieve your loss but it is not fresh on the top of your thoughts.

Grief is like an app that is always running. It drains your battery.

Recently Scott, Sam and I went to London for a week. I have been there many times before and for me it is one of the best places to visit. I have good memories there as my parents took my sisters and me to London a few times.20181229_145848.jpg

We did the things they wanted to do. I loved it. I had multiple days in a row where I did not cry.20190101_000341.jpg

20181231_222858.jpgDon’t get me wrong – I don’t cry every day for hours at a time – thankfully those days are very few. But I do cry almost everyday. Maybe it is just when I am in the shower. Or driving home. Or before I go to bed or wake up to start my day. I cry when I read posts from fellow grieving parents. Maybe a few tears, maybe minutes of crying.

I know I have to feel grief,  but it is exhausting.

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Taking a holiday from my grief is good for my missing mama soul.

 

 

 

Letter to the Courts

Tonight Scott shared with me the postcard we received in the mail.

Tomorrow I will mail the following letter:

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December 19, 2018

Dear Lake Circuit and Superior Courts,

Thank you so much for your timing during this holiday season in reminding me of my son in your mailing of his official juror notification. I really enjoy receiving mail for my son Nolan who passed away more than two years ago in September 2016.

However it is a curious to me why you would think he could serve as a juror since you  know he is dead. The Lake County sheriff department responded to the 911 call that my son’s body was found. Your county staff of police and coroner’s office came to my house to tell me my son was dead.  His body also stayed in the morgue at the Lake County coroner’s office for over 24 hours.

I picked up his belongings from your Lake County campus. I also had the pleasure of signing for receipt of his death certificate from your coroner’s office.

The holidays are bad enough missing my dead son. I miss him every day. I don’t need incompetent county processes and computer lists to remind me he is gone. Whatever you need to do — cross his name off your list.

DO NOT EVER SEND ME THIS NOTICE AGAIN.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lisa C. Gold, M.D, FAAP

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It is another day in Kenya. Another hot day for Lox and her band. Lox enjoyed the night rains, so cooling and helpful in washing away the insects and parasites that constantly irritate her skin. She slept her usual four hours, as elephants only take that time for their rest.

Lox is the matriarch of her kin. Her group numbers around twenty although they see other bands of elephants throughout their lush and green grasses of the Masai Mara Reserve. Lox wakes and immediately looks for her son Surus. He is a rambunctious young elephant growing up so fast. Soon he will be leaving the band and wander the reserve as male elephants do.MotherElephant2

Lox became the matriarch of her kin when her mother passed away years ago. Her mother was a great leader. She led the biggest band of elephants in the reserve for many years. Lox kept her band together. Her sisters, aunts, her two daughters and other female elephants with their young continue to be the biggest band of elephants in the region.

The savannah of the reserve is busy now as the season is at its peak with the migration of wildebeest and zebras. Lox knows her region well. She has a great memory and leads the band to the best water stops and areas of abundant grass to eat. Watering holes are a gathering place for many animals and Lox is on her guard as Surus is enjoying the water with others. The reserve does not have the threat of poachers but there are abundant crocodile and lions to prey on the little and vulnerable ones of her kin. A few years ago Lox almost lost Surus to an infection that claimed the lives of a few other young calves of their kin. Surus remarkably lived, likely due to his mother’s and the other elephants care.

On her way guiding her group back from the watering hole Lox and her sisters come upon a carcass. It is the remains of one of their own. Lox approaches the area. She finds tusks, bones and a remaining ear. Scavengers have eaten away most of the flesh. She and others stand around the remains, smelling the area, picking up the bones, pushing pieces of the dead relative. Lox and the others know this one…. It was one of her sons. He left the kin only a year prior.

Lox and her kin stand a long time at the site. Lox stomps a few times on the ground. It sends a subsonic rumble for others to hear. She mourns her son.

The group leaves the area after some time. Lox wanted to stay longer and be with her dead son. But being the matriarch of the kin she knows she has to move on. She has to find more food for the group. She has Surus and the other young of her kin to watch over. Everyday there are threats to her kin and she needs to be on alert. The other adult elephants of her group need her.

Lox continues on.  A rainstorm approaches the group. Lox looks up and sees the storm clouds. She is an old elephant but likely will have many more years to roam the earth. It will be good there is rain soon. The insects and parasites bite and itch her skin.  She will welcome the relief, even if it is a short time.

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Did you know that elephants are intelligent animals? They feel joy, anger and some scientists believe they exhibit grief behavior when they find remains of their species.  I wrote this story as a gift to myself. As I get older I am wanting to do things I did not have time for in the past. Creative writing was never my strength but I am inspired by Sam and his writing skills.

Think about Lox. Does she have some qualities of someone you know? 🙂

In good time doctor

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Six to eight weeks off from work? Ugh… I can’t be gone that long!

But I listened and was a good patient. I was not the doctor patient who thought my two cents of opinion equal my doctor’s years of experience.

So many people said “enjoy your time off!” “relax!” “you deserve it!”

Well maybe if it was a planned leave and I wasn’t frustrated with what happened I would have.

You see –       

 I blamed myself.

Silly ! Right? It was an accident- you can’t plan that.

But to me for the first three weeks of my leave I kept thinking I messed up. I believed no one would forgive me since I could not forgive myself…..

Then I realized there was no benefit in putting blame on the event. It happened and if I wanted to go back to normal – to walk normally, to go back to work, I had to put guilt aside and focus on healing. time-to-heal-quotes

Please understand, some of us left behind after suicide have guilt on many levels and apply it to many areas of our life.  It took me the first weeks off to understand my guilt emotion gave me nothing. If I was to heal physically why did I allow guilt to hang around in my mind?

The next four weeks were different. Not only was I the eager patient following a regimen to heal my knee, I was focused on healing myself – my whole being.

I read. Not just pediatric journals. I read books about spirituality. About grief. I read Sam’s essay for school. I read about God. I visited with people. People I wanted to see for a while but never had the time. I got closer to my husband. 

Right after Nolan passed I was not able to do any of that. It was too soon. I was living hour by hour back then, feeling crazy with the emotions of grief rolling circles in my head and learning to breathe and survive.

This time my knee injury made it easy to sit… to listen.. to heal … to just be.

 

Now I am starting my second week back to work. Am I different? Well I am still working on walking normal. I would say I am more spiritually focused. Emotionally – well we are coming to the holidays. Last year it was really hard. I expect some grief waves to come. 

But I will keep healing.