Everyday is an Adventure. Embrace it

Posts tagged ‘Death’

Adventure in Snow

Back in December I did not post after the sad circumstances with Nick’s father’s passing. Read more here

But, we did have a few adventures as a family. I feel like enough time had passed that I can reveal the happy time that we all had during the sadness of the month of December.

We took the boys with us to Indiana to attend the funeral. Indiana had a pleasant surprise for the boys – snow! Where we live in Tennessee (all the boys have ever known) it doesn’t snow much and if it should, there are such small amounts of it that it melts away by the next day. Travel may be stopped or slowed for a few hours, but really life simply goes on. When we crossed over the state line into Indiana, the boys looked up from their electronic devices and saw the main highway was covered in a lovely white/muddy substance. Our oldest even commented on the speed we had slowed to and had to receive an explanation about how snow affects driving habits and the dangers we could possibly be facing. Our youngest had one thing on his mind and kept asking if he could play in it when we got to the hotel 🙂

They were so overwhelmed by the white stuff everywhere (snow) that it consumed their every thought and desire. I heard them reminding each other that they should remember that we were heading to a funeral, but the excitement in their voices led me to think that this was going to be an adventure for them for sure!

After the funeral we went back to the hotel and gathered our thoughts. Nick told the boys (still wearing shorts from habit of Tennessee climate) to dress warmly because he was going to take them somewhere.
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We found ourselves at the Circle Center Mall. We walked up and down dizzying heights from bottom floor to top as we marveled at all the stores. The boys tasted their first ever Orange Julius drinks and were mesmerized by the game room on the top level.
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They walked downtown around Monument Circle and looked at the World’s largest Christmas tree.
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On the way home, Nick stopped at a small store and purchased some small sleds for the boys. He took us to Brown County Indiana and selected a hill for the boys to learn how to sled on.
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The youngest loved it!
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Even Nick had some fun 🙂

The oldest set out to build himself a snowman 🙂

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The snow is all they talked about on the long trip back home to Tennessee. They truly had a great experience in their still young teenage lives that many kids have by the time they are 6 or 7 yrs old!

Their adventure was unbelievable wonderful and I know they will never forget it.

December

December came and went. Christmas came early for Josh this year. We exchanged some gifts with him  before his mother drove up from South Carolina to pick him up for the holidays. The boys developed a sense of appreciation for life once more as seen in their acceptance of only a few gifts we could afford them. It was odd not having Josh with us and we all missed him after his departure.

We traveled to Indiana after Christmas and buried Nick’s father, and the boys experienced driving through ice covered roadways and larger amounts of snow then they have ever seen. We mourned the loss of a great man in Nick’s life and contemplated life once more.  The boys developed a deeper respect for Nick and grew closer to him in another way.

Nick taught the boys how to build a snowman and how to sled on this trip though. Their anticipation of the wonders of snow had built so large, he couldn’t help himself but to allow them this treat. We bought sleds and took them to Brown County. They all played for well over an hour before they realized they were wet and cold 🙂

January brought new beginnings for our family and I will write about that soon too. Sorry this post is short, but it is straight to the point. I hope you understand why I haven’t written in a bit.

Love to you all 🙂

Grieving: Things Not to Say

When someone we know is grieving, we want to comfort them in some way. Many times, we choose to offer support verbally. When doing so, please remember these natural instincts that roll off the tongues of us all listed below – that are actually very damaging. These are things not to say:

*It’ll be okay.  — You do not know the outcome nor can you predict the future, so don’t use this common lie as a comforting measure.

*God needed them more than you. – Seriously? This is not appropriate in any case.

*If there’s anything I can do…you just let me know. – This is so generic, insincere, and can actually lead to anger & ill feelings toward you. Never ever say this unless you are seriously willing to help the mourning person for the rest of your life! If you say this, be prepared to say YES if you’re asked for transportation, monetary assistance, emotional support, letter writing, employment referrals, catalog orders, holiday gatherings, babysitting, random unexpected visits at your home, legal support, etc. If you make this forever promise, you are the lowest form of existence if you say NO when someone mourning calls on you for assistance for the rest of their lives. This is the most common thing that people will say when they attend a funeral service and 98% of the time, they do not mean it in the least.  No matter how much restraint it takes on your part, absolutely do not say this if children are present! I was fortunate enough not to need anyone’s help and I did not call on anyone for several months for anything after losing my husband. But all the random people who made this comment to my children made life difficult. In a child’s mind, they thought that all those random people really would come to their aid for ANYTHING ANYTIME and they developed a sense of abandonment afterwards. If nothing else from this post sticks in your mind, remember this one!  (My children may not be typical. They knew from experience that when I made this comment, I made a commitment that I upheld the rest of that person’s life. They learned from my example and did not understand the concept that other people only said this because they couldn’t think of anything else to say.)

*Another angel got their wings back. – When someone says this it sounds as though they do not have a loving & studied relationship with my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. It just sounds … weird.

*Time heals all wounds. – Even if this is true (which it is), this is not appropriate to say to someone within the first year of mourning or grieving.

*He was a good man – Unless you knew this to be true, do not say this.

*She was a good woman – Unless you knew this to be true, do not say this.

*I am sorry for your loss. – Why? Unless you killed them or made them sick, why are YOU sorry? Although, I will say that this statement is received much better than the previous “If there’s every anything I can do, you let me know”.

*God doesn’t give you more than you can bear. – Although this is true, it is not comforting to hear when mourning.

*Well…at least you’re young. – Yeah, that helps no one… ever 😦 How is that comforting to someone who is already upset about living a long life without their loved one they just lost?

*I know how you feel – Avoid this one at all cost unless you too have lost a relation in the exact same manner. No, just don’t say this at all.

*Try not to cry. He/she wouldn’t want you to. – Excuse my lingo, but that is plain ole’ bull poop. Do you hope that no one mourns you when you pass away? Of course not, we all hope that we are loved enough that we are missed when we pass away. So, why would you say that to anyone?

* Okay, enough time has passed to put this behind you and move on. – I’ve heard that said to my children many times and it honestly infuriated me. It caused more hurt than help.

*It’s time to grow up now and stop crying. – This too has been said to my children and it caused far more harm than anything else. They were just kids!! Kids cry no matter their sex and it was OKAY.

*Something great will come from this. – Only say this if you can take a right hook to the jaw without blinking or budging from your spot. You’ve been warned.

*Don’t cry. It’ll upset the kids/parents/siblings/others. – Again, this causes more harm than good as it places unfounded guilt on the survivor for mourning. Everyone mourns in their own way. Words are powerful during grieving, chose your wisely.

So with all of this, what do you say? Keep it simple and sincere. The less you say, the better you are. Here is a list of very appropriate things to comfort someone mourning or grieving:

  • I love you (This is the absolute best thing you can ever say. Love heals!)
  • Call me if you need to talk. (Be careful though, don’t say this unless you are prepared for the phone calls.)
  • I’ll pray for you.
  • I’m praying for you and your family.
  • God hasn’t left you. (This one can be tricky. If you say this, be ready for mixed emotions unless you know the person’s personal faith.)
  • It’s okay to cry.
  • It’s okay to scream.
  • It’s okay to be angry.
  • It’s okay to write down your thoughts.
  • He/she knew you loved them.
  • Are you okay? (Since this is a question, be prepared for no response or a lengthy period in which you just sit silently and listen without judging them.
  • Nothing/Silence (Sometimes the only thing a person needs is physical comfort – such as: a hug, holding a hand, sitting near them, or standing near them.)

Something people often forget to do:

  • Follow up – Many people will go on with their lives and forget about the mourning/grieving person after a week or two. If your memory is bad, make a reminder for yourself to check in on them a couple months after the event. This will mean much more than flowers at a funeral, empty comments at a graveside, or cards in the mail immediately following. All you have to do is not forget them in the first year. Simple 🙂

Holidays & Family 3yrs after Death

Grief is no easy monster to defeat & one of the biggest illusions it presents is how “family” holds together afterwards. Family unintentionally dissipates as the months & years go by. There are many good intentions and people are quick to declare, “we will not allow anything to separate us” and “we will get together more often”, but reality takes hold & people drift apart.

Death has a way of bringing people together & a way of separating them as well. The reasons why people drift apart are too numerous to mention, but the people who drift remain the same: Brothers, Sisters, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends, & especially in-laws.

The illusion of family is presented by those we love & share many years of memories, triumphs, & disappointments with. These are people we grew up with & other times people we allowed into our lives through love & devotion.

Probably some of the hardest lessons learned through this process is that people who were once “family” are no longer as the years go by. Those who once said “I love you” will allow themselves to fad out of your life & resume theirs without thought of the ones they leave out. The daily phone calls that occurred for 15 years will fade to weekly, then monthly, yearly, & finally stop completely. The thought of what constitutes family will be reduced to blood. The family events, get-togethers, & shared holidays will cease. The random encounters in town become fewer as the years accumulate.
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There is an awkwardness that begins to grow & soon in-laws feel betrayed by the widow/widower should they allow someone else into their life. Step children decide that a surviving step parent is no longer part of their family once another man/woman enters the widow/widower’s life. Distance becomes the norm instead of the unheard of and the unusual becomes usual.

  • During the 1st year after death, the holidays are mournful by all, yet comforting because “family” still gather and hold traditions.
  • By the 2nd year after death, holidays are a bit restrained. They seems to be full of pity and compassion for the widow/widower and the children. “Family” approach the holidays with caution.
  • By the 3rd year, the “family” turn inward. There is still much pity and compassion, but it is for themselves – not the surviving widow/widower. Since the phone calls have ceased, guilt money begins to arrive in mailboxes instead of invitations to holiday gatherings. “Family” begins to cling to each other more closely so they will be able to discuss the unacceptable changes in the widow/widower’s life. They fear change because they refuse to risk losing the precious memories of the loved one passed. I am hoping above all hope that one day soon, “family” will realize that nothing can replace or remove those memories from their minds.

In the mind of the “family”, it remains appropriate for the them to move on with their lives (as they should), yet it remains inappropriate for the widow/widower to resume life. Afterall, they have been encouraged to do so by many friends and loved ones, therefore it has become acceptable. This self acceptance takes a great deal of effort and can lead to the selfish human nature of self-preservation. People forget however, that self-preservation does not include tearing others down in the process. One of the most important Human impulses in life is self-preservation.

This holiday season, please try not to damage a survivor of any traumatic event by your own inclinations of self-preservation.  😦

Funny How Things Just Hit You

As I sat drinking my beloved coffee this morning, I rummaged through a year’s worth of pictures so the before/after photographs could be posted of the house.  I am downright excited to publish a post of gratitude and rightfully thank everyone that has blessed our family over the last year.

As I was reviewing the first 1,000 photos or so, I was flat-out excited! Creating a folder to move the photos into and ensuring they were in the right order was not bothersome at this point. After an hour had passed, I had successfully completed my first pot of coffee.  I was amazed that I took so many pictures & had parsed through several thousand at this point. Going into my third hour, I was mentally exhausted. I was becoming frustrated at myself for taking so many pictures of everything under the sun. I questioned myself even, “why did I snap that?” “Did I think that was funny, cool, or that I’d never see it again?” “What is that?” I caught myself being upset with myself for clogging up my computer with pictures of random stuff when it hit me.

It is defined by: Wow, I’ve had a great year! I’m not including the boys or their feelings in this either. They may see the last year in a different way. Since they have become strange creatures others call teenagers, I can no longer speak for their feelings really. Would you allow me, gentle reader, to share this with you?

Please do not think me boasting or giving gratitude to anyone other than God! I have honestly had a great year of healing without even noticing I was. I mean, I’ve noticed sort of, but I took each day and placed it in its own little boxed adventure and hadn’t lined all the boxes up together to see the whole picture.

Over the last year: I went from thinking I was moving on with my life and realizing I hadn’t moved an inch

– to mourning the loss of my husband again

– to recovering from a nasty concussion (PCS)

– to beginning the heart wrenching work on the house

– to moving away from home

– to leaving state several times and seeing new places

– to meeting new people

– to realizing I had fallen in love again

– to watching the boys grow closer to each other and healing (PTSD & grief)

– to taking our first ever family vacation

– to learning a new trade (kind of)

– to definitely learning new skills

– to learning to open up and share myself with someone again

– to renewing my faith

– to really learning forgiveness (PTSD)

– to letting go of the anger (PTSD & grief)

– to helping a few friends along the way

– to meeting some cool people in other countries (you know who you are…Paul)

– to being a Mom again instead of working too many hours each week

– to bringing another child into our family

– to finally agreeing to “let it go” and just be.

And I documented all of this through my pictures. There are thousands of magical pictures with time stamps and GPS locations to remind me just how far I have come and how unquestionably blessed I have been and still am.

I am happy that I was side tracked while trying to locate all the photos of the house for you. I apologize that you must continue to wait too, cause I’m only good for one post per day per blog.

🙂 May God bless you

Changes after Death

This particular article is difficult to write, but part of healing is sharing.
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Death is not easy on survivors, the friends of the deceased, or the survivors friends. We are nearing the 3 year mark after losing my husband, the kids’ father and embarking on the PTSD  journey.  It seems with each passing year, each family member affected by his death is still affected in a different way. It goes without saying that each person heals differently after experiencing a traumatic death in their lives. Some still carry very tender hearts and others just ignore that the date of the event on the calendar exists. Rarely does anyone speak of the actual event any longer. I have heard it said that time heals all wounds, but this is not the case for everyone. If someone brings him up, they mention him, not the event. This too is part of the healing process. I guess we are making progress after all 🙂
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Tragedy can bring people closer together and it can pull people far apart. After a period of time passes, many people tend to forget that there is no correct or incorrect way to grieve. There is no correct or incorrect length of time for someone to move on with life either. Moving on with life or “living” doesn’t mean that you have forgotten what you had, who that person was, or what they meant to you. Because this can be forgotten, some people in a family can turn against the ones that they feel like are not grieving appropriately in their minds. They begin to pass judgement. Along with judgment, comes bitterness, anger, and a complete re-visitation of the grieving process. The person who allows anger to fester inside of them experiences many sets backs from their healing.

Death is not prejudice. It takes who it pleases. Death is not questionable. It is final. Death is not arguable, it wins. It is uncaring, selfish, ugly, and can change people forever. Death can bring out the worst or the best in those around you while one grieves or while one heals. Death changes the image of people that we have in our minds. Death can use a person’s emotions again them. Death changes perception.

Children process death differently in their mind than a spouse, parent, or friend. After losing a parent, children want to see the surviving parent alone. They are unwilling to accept anyone else in the surviving parents life. Another woman will never be good enough. Another man will be unacceptable. Surviving children can be cruel because their emotions over take them. They will feel as though the surviving parent has fallen out of love with the deceased parent at some point, even if they remain alone for the rest of their lives. They will assume that the surviving parent is trying to replace the deceased if they choose to re-marry. They can harbor resentment, anger, and in some cases guilt because they like the new “parent” brought into their lives by the surviving parent.
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A death in the family can actually be quite dangerous to one’s emotional state & the unity of that family. Siblings will turn against Siblings. Mother against father or vice versa.  If everyone involved is not understanding of the other members of the family and their feelings, the family can be destroyed.

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Brother’s Love (a PTSD check-in)

A brother’s love is a strong, sensitive, and unfailing.

While we were on vacation earlier this week, I saw so much evidence of my boys’ healing.  I noticed some changes in their interactions with one another over the last few weeks as we took in a new family addition. It is nice to see them bonding once more instead of being arch enemies with each other 🙂
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On vacation, we went to a small non-commercialized island where we had the beach practically to ourselves. This of course meant we also had the ocean to ourselves for the most part as well. Before the trip, both boys had concerns about safety. Neither could swim and were worried that I may not be able to save them.  They worried about the heat, the sand, the frogs,…practically everything. I think they were afraid of a new experience, but knew I was not going to leave them home – they were going to see the ocean, like it or not!
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On day 1 we drove all day and each of us crashed on our prospective beds at the hotel late at night.

On day 2 we drove the short distance to the beach and they faced their fears. Nick coaxed them out into the water as he laid down a few ocean rules. He showed them how to get past the breaks, not to worry about the sand, what brushed against their feet, and showed them the tranquility of body surfing the gentle waves. I was truly amazed. They did it – with no reservations. They went straight into the water, conquered that fear. Later that day, I watched my oldest son write in the sand to his daddy. I guess he was showing dad that he hadn’t forgotten him. Then, he wrote to his girlfriend (his name and hers in a heart) multiple times! It was sweet. I had a few minor concerns about their PTSD flaring up on this trip and wondered if they would reach out to my deceased husband. My concerns were confirmed, but not anything to worry about yet. image

On day 3 they experienced the beach again, this time with stronger waves. We drove about an hour and 45 minutes to Ocean City Maryland. We went to the beach and the boys were awarded the opportunity to witness commercialization. They experienced mass traffic, city culture, saw what they thought were hot bodies (very little bathing suits and a lot of skin), odd people, live musicians, men and women flirting among the masses, and much more turbulent waters of the ocean.  We spent about three hours on the beach and in the ocean before we toured the boardwalk. The waves were crashing into the beach, the wind was stronger and people were elbow to elbow. The boys approached the water apprehensively. Nick went with them, but warned them about the undertow currents and told them how to make it back to shore if sucked out to sea. image

I could see the fear written on their faces and I knew that I would run out there and save them if I could. They feared losing each other as much as they had feared losing their daddy. They feared losing me and were relieved that I stayed on the shore line this day. I stayed with the towels and our belongings. The honesty factor flew out the window when we left our favorite island on Chincoteague. This was wild, crazy, and chaotic. image

I didn’t interfere as they bonded together, encouraged each other “they could do it” and reassured each other that they’d be okay. I can’t express how hard it was as a mother to watch and not jump in there and erase all of their fears.image

They went into the ocean. Holding hands. Forming a chain of protection as they had vowed to save each other if the need arose. They stayed close to Nick in the water for comfort. Before long, my oldest was waaaaay out in the ocean on his boogie board. He was a natural. He took to the waves like a dolphin. My youngest was not far out though as he stood aside and watched his big brother adventure out into the deep. image

They had learned to swim and hadn’t realized it!! They had conquered a fear and were not aware. They were out there swimming with fish, crabs, jelly fish, sting rays, sand sharks, and lord only knows what else 🙂 image

From the side lines, I watched. From the side lines I was proud of them and couldn’t tell them. They’ve told me that they are fine if I just help them and not actually say “PTSD” or “Are you okay”. My Momdar (mom radar) is supposed to go off at just the right time in their minds to save them from their own thoughts. image

On day 4  we were back on Chincoteague Island and we went to the beach at Assateague Island. They were beginning to wear thin, tire down – like a tire going flat.  The hot sun, wind, and ocean water was beginning to take a toll of them. Irritable and grumpy, we promised them a break on day 5.  I saw more sand writing on day 4 to their daddy and they brought him up a time or two in conversation. No one cried, no one withdrew. They were healing nicely. image

On day 5  Nick rented a bike for my youngest son and Josh to ride around town. My youngest conquered another fear. He learned how to ride a bike! He rode that bike all over the town while Nick and I went to the beach. He conquered a fear of independence and being alone also. He was rather happy with himself that he rode as long and as far as he did on the Island. By car, the entire island can be crossed in less than 10 mins if you obey the speed limit of 25mph. It was very small. My oldest also conquered a fear of being alone in a new place. He didn’t tell me he was afraid with words, I read it on his face. He talked to his girlfriend all day (I’m guessing) as he walked around the island.  Both boys are still healing and growing on day 5 🙂
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On day 6 the boys didn’t want to go to the beach, they wanted bikes again. Nick rented bikes for them and they rode all day through the town. It was day 2 of a new-found freedom and they loved it! On this day all three boys had an argument blow out and they resolved it mostly on their own. Nick and I only had to intervene slightly. They were growing, bonding, learning each other and developing a new brotherly love (whether they realized it or not). image

On day 7 we went back to the beach one last time for shell collecting. They had all formed a new bond and were unaware of it. Each of them I saw talk to each other, interact with each other, and show concern in a new way. image

This vacation was a healing experience for them. Therapy could not have provided what this trip did.

Praise you Jesus for your Love, Grace, Peace, and Healing!!  🙂

More Family Pictures by KD Photography

More Family Pictures by KD Photography

I am so tickle that Kristi has captured my little family for a year.  Here are some more great pictures that she captured for us at the park 🙂

My  boysNicky & Coley

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