Thoughts from other grieving parents

I feel like I haven't been doing a very good job articulating my own thoughts lately and thought that I would steal some other people's thoughts that have touched me lately.  Many times, other bereaved parents do a much better job at describing how I feel or giving me hope than I can do for myself.  WARNING - LOTS OF READING AHEAD.

Since Ted is reading a book about Abraham Lincoln killing vampires on this vacation ("Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".  The title makes me laugh), I will start with a quote I found in Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul from Lincoln.  Ted and I both separately have affinities towards Abraham Lincoln that go way back.  Now that we are grieving parents, they go much deeper.  This quote gives me hope:

"In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all, 
and it often comes with bitter agony.
Perfect relief is not possible, 
except with time.
You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better.
But this is not true.
You are sure to be happy again.
Knowing this, 
truly believing it, 
will make you less miserable now.
I have had enough experience to make this statement." - Abraham Lincoln

I found this blog yesterday.  It belongs to a grieving mother.  Her son, Jack, died tragically at twelve years old.  She put together a long list of things that friends and family can do to "help" the bereaved parents.  I picked out the ones that meant the most to me:

- Mention the deceased person's name when you see the family. It's hard. Do it anyway. The family will cry. Do it anyway.
- Write the person's birthday and death day on your calendar. Send a note or an email on those days.  (As a side note, I have NEVER been one of those people that makes a big deal about my own birthday.  I don't even like them doing the cake/singing thing for me at work.  But, Maxie's birthday (October 7) is THE MOST IMPORTANT date to me - the day I became a mommy - and if you were to remember us on the day he passed (July 21), it would mean so much to us - because it is sure to be a very difficult one).
- Even if you didn't know the deceased, consider sharing what the deceased means to you NOW. Eternal life is, well, ETERNAL. Jack's life is affecting people in ways we could never imagined, and we are blessed that so many people are making the effort to let us know, through emails, blog comments, letters, or person. This helps ease the sting. Have you had a dream about the person who passed away? Tell the family.
- Do not feel offended if your phone calls go unreturned. Just leave a loving message. I have found returning phone calls, or even picking up the phone, to be daunting and difficult, but I still appreciate hearing messages. (Another side note - I get emails and comments from complete strangers, that directly mention Max or let us know that they are thinking about us, that give me a boost.  It doesn't matter that they may just say, "I'm still reading.  I'm still thinking about you".  A text, an email, a goes a long way.  Even if you don't hear back from me, you can know that you have given me a bright moment).
- Send photos or videos of the deceased. Even if you think family members might already have photos from an event, send whatever you have. A new facial expression or a different angle provides them with another glimpse of the one who is gone (I would give anything for more photos or a forgotten video of Max.  What I have is not enough).

Another piece from the Chicken Soup book.  I bolded the stuff that stood out:
"I won't say 'I know how you feel' - because I don't.  I've lost parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, but I've never lost a child.  So how can I say I know how you feel?
I won't say 'You'll get over it'- because you won't.  Life will have to go on.  The washing, cooking, cleaning, the common routine.  These chores will take your mind off of your loved one, but the hurt will still be there.
I won't say 'Your other children will be a comfort to you' - because they may not be.  Many mothers I've talked to say that after they have lost a child, they easily lose their temper with their remaining children.  Some even feel resentful that they're alive and healthy when the other child is not.
I won't say, 'Never mind, you're young enough to have another child'  - because that won't help.  A new baby will fill your hours, keep you busy and give you sleepless nights.  But it will not replace the one you've lost.
You may hear all of these platitudes from your friends and relatives.  They may think that they are helping.  They don't know what else to say.  Many will avoid you because they can't face you.  Others will talk about the weather, the holidays and the school concert but never about how you are coping.  
So what will I say?
I will say, 'I'm here.  I care.  Anytime.  Anywhere.'  I will talk about your loved one.  We'll laugh about the good memories.  I won't mind how long you grieve.  I won't tell you to pull yourself together.
No, I don't know how you feel - but with sharing, perhaps I will learn a little of what you are going through.  And perhaps you will feel comfortable with me and find your burden has eased.  Try me."
- Written by a Pediatric Nurse to Ann Landers.

Here are a couple of posts from the Spohrs, my friends who don't know me.  Yesterday was the third anniversary of the loss of their sweet Maddie.  I wore purple to commemorate her life, just as many of their readers did, I am sure.  Three years is just unfathomable to me.  She was such a beautiful girl.  I love looking at her pictures and hearing stories about the light that she shined on their lives for the short time she was here.  This is a post that touched me and had me wanting to yell, "I hear ya!".  It was hard for Heather to write, I am sure.  Even harder for her to post.  No doubt in my mind -
Maddie's father, Mike, writes posts less often but he is a wonderful writer and his posts about his beloved girls go straight to my heart.  He was a stay at home dad with Maddie for the first year or so of her life.  This post comes like a breath of fresh air from a guy who has lost a child.  It cuts deep.

Also, remember my friend that I now know, Molly?  The charity she started, in memory of her beautiful Lucy - A Good Grief - had their annual concert last week and Maxie was part of the slideshow that they projected at the event.  He is towards the end - Tribute for our Angels.  I love to know that his smiling face beams down from many places.  It means so much for me to be able to bring him back into this world for even moments at a time.

While I was on Molly's blog, she also gave me a good laugh.  Her post about wanting to be the "Weird Al" of Mormon music is SO exactly why I wanted to be her friend.  If you are already one of my friends, you know that this is just the kind of nerd thing I do (or at least, used to do, and hope to someday do again).

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