capture your grief, day 4: belonging

I love the smell of glue sticks in the morning!

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I really didn’t think I’d be doing a whole art therapy project this morning. But when I read CarlyMarie’s description for day 4, this is what came to mind.

I love vision boarding. I keep our old magazines for this purpose (which my husband loves—not).

I jotted down some of the relationships/groups in which I belong, and found images for those relationships.

OK, my original vision for this project was better than this. If only I would have remembered that vision before gluing. Picture this: I was going to wrinkle every image to represent that every relationship changed with Kade’s death. But since I forgot to wrinkle before gluing, I decided to wrinkle only the stars peppered throughout, that represent Kade in all aspects of my life.

(Am I supposed to be explaining this or should I leave it to the eye of the beholder?)

There has been ebbing…and waning…and retreating…and even severing in my relationships. Mostly there has been flowing to the ebbing…waxing to the waning…and advancing to the retreating.

Is any relationship the same over time? Don’t they all change? Losing a child might just be a magnification of that (albeit a Hubble Telescope kind of magnification).

And my relationship with myself…would I have even included that on a poster-board before my world changed with Kade’s death?

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Instructions for CarlyMarie’s Capture Your Grief, Day 4: Belonging:

When your child dies, your sense of belonging can be torn apart. Friendships change and we often become the elephant in the room. The circles we belong in no longer feel comfortable. This is a secondary loss. As human beings we need to feel that we belong. If we do not belong, we are left feeling isolated which is a lonely place to be. Have a think about the relationships you have in your life. Have you found your tribe? What do they mean to you? Are you in need of a new tribe? Surrounding yourself with like-hearted people – people who make you feel good, the people who make you feel at home will become cherished like family. “True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to BE who you are” – Brene Brown.

capture your grief, day 3: meaningful mantra

I felt “mantra challenged” starting today’s exercise. I didn’t have it in me to create a mantra fitting my mood, and deferred to Google to find a short but expressive one. But I had to start somewhere, even enlisting Google’s help.

I feel the heavy pall around the Las Vegas shooting only two days ago. I have spent entirely too much time around news coverage and responsible gun law advocacy. This healing mantra exercise has come at the very right time.

I knew I wanted my mantra to have some sort of a message of peace for the world. After searching for a while, and passing on mantras that were about inner peace, or that were too long, I hit upon this site:

Chanting for World Peace

What?! Did I just stumble on a project that communally focuses on peace, within a project that communally focuses on grief? Sure ‘nuff I did.

Found my mantra.

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavanthu

“May all beings everywhere be happy and peaceful.”

Click here to listen to how the chant sounds.

I like how you can participate in the project using your own chant or prayer if you choose.

I’m not thrilled about the word “happy” in the chant because I think that our society is obsessed with “choosing happiness!” and “how to find happiness!” to the discounting or pathologizing of other feelings on the spectrum of the normal human condition. But the rest of the mantra, and the communal project of chanting for world peace, made up for its overused h-word.

As a matter of a fact, I might imagine my own word in place of “happy”…like “joyful,” “content,” or “true to themselves.” For a counseling bend I could use the word “congruent.”

How might you change it?

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Playing with the filters on my camera, I settled on the “negative”. I like how the purple amethyst in my mala bracelet (healing for grief) looks like jade.

 

Instructions for CarlyMarie’s Capture Your Grief, Day 3: Meaningful Mantra:

Create a mantra for yourself for this month. Something that you can say to yourself over and over. Something that lifts your spirits. An example – “Today, I live for you. Today I love for you.” Your mantra can be anything that you want. If you say it over an over enough, you will find yourself beginning to live that mantra. Write your mantra down. Write it down multiple times. Put it in different places where you will see it during your day. On your fridge, in your bathroom mirror, one the steering wheel of your car, etc. You may change your mantra up as we move through this month if you want to. Share your mantra with your tribe.

CarlyMarie’s capture your grief, day 2: rise + shine mourning ritual

Day 2 instructions:

“Create a new mourning ritual. When you rise in the morning spend a few moments in silence and create space for yourself. Wherever you choose to do this, whether it is at the end of your bed as you wake up or out side with a cup of tea, take a few minutes to ground yourself. You can do this by either sitting on the ground or placing both feet flat on the floor. Take a good posture and close your eyes. Take some slow relaxing breaths in and out. Envision your child’s light burning bright like the sun from your heart. Once you feel calm, awake and present, dedicate your day to living for your child and set an intention for how you want your day be. Write it down and share it with us.”

I usually wake at the latest possible moment, squeezing all the milliseconds I can out of hitting snooze. This morning, though, I got up with my alarm and turned on my bedside lamp. I scooted upright, and opened my journal to the blank page (the one after my entry from the bank of the Arkansas after rafting), and closed my eyes.

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I thought of Kade. Then I looked at the picture of him holding Asher on my wall. I sat with him for a quiet moment. If you’re not a bereaved parent this might sound crazy to you (or maybe it doesn’t):

It was nice having a little time with him. I’d been missing him. I need to hang out with him again soon.

My intention for the day came to me in the form of a bracelet I ordered from a site I follow, Hands Free Mama. My bracelet reads,

“Only love today.”

There was my intention.

I found my bracelet, jotted my intention, added a little love note, “captured my grief” (snapped my picture), and felt calm and ready for the day.

Starting my morning slowly, mindfully, and by setting an intention was a brilliant change of pace. I will try to do that for at least the rest of October’s Capture Your Grief, and maybe it will become a habit beyond.

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capture your grief, day 31: sunset reflection

I had had to be at my school before the sun would set tonight, so I snapped a picture as I arrived, about an hour before sunset.

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An hour before sunset, Thornton, CO

I’m not gonna lie, I’m glad that this October’s Capture Your Grief is over. It was a healing, connecting exercise, but man, sometimes those healing connecting exercises are draining.
I learned that even a short post can say a lot. I disliked when I had a hard time thinking of a photograph to use. I liked that CarlyMarie emphasized that we should feel comfortable taking a day or days away from the project as needed. I also liked the memories of Kade that some of the themes conjured up. And I liked that my 6-year-old would occasionally ask, “Mama, what’s the theme today for Capture Your Grief?”

capture your grief, day 30: my promise to you

I have not made a specific promise to Kade since he died, per se. “Promises to him” seem to be sort of revealing themselves as my grieving morphs and changes.

From this parent’s desire that her son not be forgotten, a promise takes shape to speak his name. From the drive to remember and honor him, and to feel the familiarity of ritual, a promise develops to celebrate his life on his anniversary date, birthday, and holidays.

When I think of Kade and promises, it brings me back to middle-of-the night feedings with my newborn almost 24 years ago. I brought him to the cushy reclining rocking chair in the living room of our little apartment so as not to wake his dad. I turned on the TV for dim light (reruns of Gilligan’s Island). I whispered promises upon his sweet little head with the fervor of a new parent: I will protect you. You will always be loved. I will give you what you need. You will have a good life.

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capture your grief, day 29: give away your love

I did my favorite act of kindness for today’s theme. Favorite because it’s the one I do the most, it’s easy, and I get to leave a Kade kindness card.

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I went through a Starbuck’s drive-through and bought the coffee behind me. (Well, there was nobody behind me this time, so I left $5 toward the next person’s order.) I’m up for some new acts of kindness ideas if you have any!

I’m glad I stumbled upon the MISS Foundation’s Kindness Project online years ago. It’s a way to put your child’s name into the world, and a bit of good, as well.

MISS Foundation Kindness Project

capture your grief, day 26: what heals you?

CarlyMarie says that when she finds herself asking, “Why?” she turns it into “What?” As in, “What heals me?”

I will try to remember that. I don’t ask the “Whys” as much. They are anguishing. But when they do arise, I will try to remember to turn them into “What heals?”

Yoga is healing for me, but I need to work on incorporating it as a regular part of my life. Same with meditation.
Time with my fellow bereaved moms is healing.
Date night is healing.
Family getaways are healing.
Journaling is healing.
Laughter is healing.
Time with a friend is healing.
Time with Kade (connecting with him, remembering him, honoring him, visiting his stone or his river) is healing.
Doing something that I know is good for me (like eating well, going to bed early, exercising, or keeping my schedule light) is healing.
Creating is healing.
Hikes/time in nature is healing.

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Dillon, CO 10/14/2016

capture your grief, day 25: i am

I AM | Finish these 5 sentences

I wish: that Kade wore his soft burgundy flannel instead of me. And that the pictures I have of him didn’t stop at age 19.

I remember: his laugh and his voice, thank goodness.

I could not believe: that one so animated and talkative could be so abruptly silenced. 

If only: I could call him up right now. It’s been too long.

I am: still experiencing a level of disbelief that this is reality.

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Needed a little humor with this post.

capture your grief, day 24: consciously becoming

Today’s theme is loaded with a lot of sub-questions so I will do them as a question-and-answer session.

Q. So many of us split our lives into a timeline of before and after our children died. Who were you before your child died?

A. I was a mom of a nearly-grown 19-year-old embarking on his young adulthood, and stay-at-home mom to a little toddler, not yet 2 years old. I blissfully got to be a stay-at-home mom to my little guy and often met friends for play-dates.

Q. Who are you now?

A. I don’t want to be what I am about to answer. I am a bereaved mom. As Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said: I am mom to one who walks and one who soars. I am a wife, a mom to a spunky, bright first-grader, and I figure out daily how to be a mom to one who soars.

Q. Who are you now in this present moment?

A. Sitting on my couch after getting home from class tonight at 10:00 p.m., I am very much a student. I just turned in an 8-page paper. My school program is wonderful. It is fascinating and rewarding. It also takes up more of my time than I thought possible.

Q. What are you feeling?

A. Tired (because being a mom to one who soars is not always conducive to a peaceful and sound night’s slumber lately). Happy (because my paper is turned in). Content (because my hubby is next to me on the couch, and my class load for the next couple weeks seems manageable).

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Had to take this seeing that we happened to have our matching shirts on tonight

Q. Have you been irrevocably changed by the death of your child?

A. Yes.

Q. How are you different now?

A. I asked my husband how I am different now–not a great idea. First he paused…and probably against his better judgment said, “You get more upset than before. I think it’s even harder for you to get stuff done.” Then he said that I am probably more empathetic than I was before. And because I’ve been through this, will be a great counselor. Then we both laughed when he read that I wrote “I asked my husband–not a great idea”. He said, “Well, it’s not like you would have a trauma and you’re happier! And more organized and more efficient!” Aaah, grief humor.

Q. Do you love anything about the new you?

A. I like that I decided to go back to school, and that I will be able to help people in their grief. I like that I have a little different perspective to cut to the chase of what’s important, and to speak my truth.

Q. Do you want and old part of you back?

A. Yes.

Q. Who are you becoming?

A. I am becoming a mental health professional. I am becoming more authentic. I hope I continue to become a better person, wife, and mom…to one who walks and one who soars.