Posts Tagged With: grief

Be Still, My Heart

“Dear Julia . . . there is no easy way to tell you this . . .”

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On July 3rd, I learn of my friend’s suicide

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The savage truth delivers a violent punch to my heart

and fractures my core

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For others, the days ahead bring fireworks, art fairs, and festivities . . . even The Rolling Stones

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but I’m here still trying to get up off the floor

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Reality comes in waves now; acid waves which leave me breathless

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I can’t talk about it yet, or say his name aloud, or share his wonderfulness with you

but I know that soon the grieving will begin and it will be better than this

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In a single moment everything can change

your perspective . . . your world . . . even the person you are

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To the muffled backdrop of exploding fireworks, I weep

for his pain

and my loss

and the tremendous tragedy of it all

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It didn’t have to be

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This life . . .

is magnificent and beautiful

yet fragile, tentative, and temporary

and ever so bittersweet.

aFLOWER PANSY WET156WMD

*If you are in crisis, PLEASE call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-HELP (8255). They’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They really care and can help you.  Or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org   .

Because you matter.

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Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Grief/Healing, Michigan | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

IT’S BEEN A LIFETIME

The heart is the most important muscle there is, but it does more than just pump blood.

It creates memories.

“Muscle memory” is when a movement is done repeatedly over time and your muscle creates a sort of memory for that movement which allows you to do it without really thinking about it too much; like riding a bike, or typing on a keyboard.

Emotions are born in the brain . . . but they live in the heart.

That’s why it swells and overflows when we feel joy. And that’s why a “broken heart” physically hurts when we lose or miss someone.

It all happens there. Some would argue the accuracy of this, but it would fall on deaf ears. I know my heart and what it holds.

And today it is aching.

I thought I knew what love was.

Until I had a child.

And everything changed.

I fell in love with my son the moment I knew of him.

Our life together began with his first hello . . . a small flutter from within; and with every passing month, I talked to him and he responded with little poked messages of acknowledgement, as we secretly conversed in our own Morse code; with me talking and him tap, tap, tapping in reply.

Until the tapping stopped.

And it was all over.

The dream ended; the gift withdrawn.

And I was left with nothing but empty arms and a broken heart.

When you lose a baby, you lose a lifetime.

In my case, I also lost a lifeSTYLE, because I couldn’t have another child.

And the trouble is my heart already started loving him.

My heart memorized every single moment of him. Every hope and dream; his first steps and his first bike ride, when he learned to drive and when he went off to college. My heart remembers the sound of him calling out, “Mom!” as he returned home from school; and the way his dark hair fell across his forehead when he was asleep. I remember when he fell in love with my daughter-in-law and they had my first grandbaby; and how I marveled at my blessings and the opportunity to relive it all again.

Oh, yes, I fell in love with him.

And my heart remembers the life we were supposed to have.

The one I had imagined.

Our beautiful babies aren’t supposed to die; but mine did . . . on the day he was born.

He was in an incubator . . . and then he wasn’t.

Then he was in my arms.

Then I was allowed to hold him.

And in those few moments . . . we lived our lifetime together.

Those powerful few moments have sustained me for 30 years.

I’m not burdened by the weight of grief every single day anymore.

I’ve learned how to live with the reality; you get used to feeling the pain, I guess. I actually embrace it at times. And memories of my son are kind of like breathing for me – I don’t consciously think about breathing, but I do it . . . all the time.

As for today, I am thoughtful.

I am grieving the loss of my son on his 30th birthday, I am sad for what will never be, and I wonder what motivates me to rise each day.

But I do. And I will.

And I will continue to grab the little bits of joy I happen upon, and I will embrace them. I will work hard to be good and to be kind. And to be better than I am.

Because I have a son. And I want him to be proud . . . just in case there is a heaven.

Categories: Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE.

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

This isn’t a sad day for me.

Grief comes unpredictably throughout life. It sprinkles itself on moments; heavy sometimes, lighter at others. I won’t focus on this day as one of heartache, and dwell on the sadness, or assign myself the duty of grieving. Instead, I will do better.

My life can’t be just about the dates anymore . . . a birth date, death date, anniversary . . . there are too many dates and life is just too damn short.

Life has to become about the joyous moments. Let’s cherish & embrace them.

It’s all so precious.

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Today I chatted w/someone who read the blog I wrote (and sang) in honor of my son, Michael, called, “If I Can Get to Heaven”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-uC

A relative of hers had lost an infant long ago and is in need of healing. I told her about The Christmas Box Angel Statue* and how it helps me to visit my son’s memory brick there. What a special gift for today, July 8th, Michael’s birthday.

And once again the word is spread & the healing is shared.

It’s been a good day.

MICHAELS BRICK

My friend, Mary Kopke Wloch, sent me this note regarding this photograph:

“My interpretation: daisies = sweet innocence, the shadow on the brick = your unending love for your son, the hat = hope. With words and images you continue to touch my heart. Thank you for sharing.”

Your words are a gift, dear Mary. Thank you.

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*THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

The Christmas Box Angel Statue was introduced to the world in the book, “The Christmas Box”, a worldwide best seller and hit television movie by author, Richard Paul Evans.

In the book, at the site of an angel statue, a woman mourns the loss of her child. Though the story is mostly fiction, the angel monument once existed but is speculated to have been destroyed. Mr. Evans commissioned the new angel statue in response to reports that grieving parents were seeking out the angel as a place to grieve and heal.

Michigan Memorial Park has provided the setting for the first Christmas Box Angel Statue in the State of Michigan, here in the United States. ANGEL STATUE

**FOR ANGEL STATUES THROUGHOUT THE U.S., visit Richard Paul Evans: http://www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations

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EVERY YEAR ON DECEMBER 6TH at 7:00 P.M., THERE IS A CANDLELIGHT HEALING CEREMONY/VIGIL at Christmas Box Angel Statues across the country, for those experiencing the loss of a child or loved one, to gather and honor them. The public is welcome to attend.

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A PAVING BRICK OR MEMORY BRICK for the angel site at Michigan Memorial Park (and other locations) may be purchased in memory or honor of a child or loved one. The brick will include up to three lines of engraving for $100 with as many as 12 characters or spaces per line.

To purchase a memory brick from Michigan Memorial Park, please click here for a printable application: http://www.michmempark.com/pdf/Christmas-Box-Application.pdf.

Or contact Nancy Adams: (248)887-0327 for addtional information.

Visit Michigan Memorial Park at: http://www.michmempark.com/christmas-box-angel.asp

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**FOR ANGEL STATUES THROUGHOUT THE U.S., visit Richard Paul Evans: http://www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations

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Note: I am NOT professionally associated with Michigan Memorial Park or the Christmas Box Angel Statue, & am posting this blog for informational purposes only, to help spread the word and share in the healing. xoJulia

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Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

THERE IS NO TIME

We contemplate but do not understand elgin upclose

We try to control but settle for measuring

Like day into night

Summer into winter

Life into death

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When joyfulness visits

we cling desperately

trying to preserve it

and hold it still

but it takes flight

and vanishes into happiness

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And when the sadness comes

as it will in life

as it should

it stands forever frozen

full of emptiness and sorrow

CLOCK FRZN SNWY

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The twisted tragedy

is that we fight to hold on

and struggle to let go

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It teases and tortures

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Years have passed since I lost you

Or was that just a breath ago?

I close my eyes and live a lifetime

and then I blink . . . and you are gone

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In this magnificent remarkable life

there is sweetness in the rain

and comfort in a quiet winter morning

A WINTER SCENE

There is wondrousness

in birth, growth, change

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And there is healing

in the laughter of friends

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And there is love

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These things cannot be frozen

but they can be captured and embraced

and treasured

forever

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The bitter sweetness in the grieving

is that the greatness of our pain

is the measurement of our love

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It is a blessed and glorious grieving

sunrise for blog

There is no time . . . there are only precious moments.

Categories: Grief/Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

CHRISTMAS MORNING

I awaken early. It is still dark. And quiet.

“Merry Christmas” I whisper to the dog as I rise.

Not too many tears this morning. I’m sort of tear-ed out. Although I fight the good fight, it’s been a long pre-holiday week of them.

I feed the animals and take my coffee to the sofa.

I switch on my Christmas angel and she quietly changes from glowing red to green to blue. She is my only decoration.

angel in globe

I pray.

I have already grieved those I’m missing and cried the tears of things that are no longer; the excitement of Christmas morning and gifts piled high around the tree, and the comfort of family gathered around the table for a meal.

Those seats are empty now. Those times have passed. As have too many loved ones. As do all the holidays anymore.

No more celebrations. Just endurances.

But that’s okay.

I think of friends who have risen early to ready themselves for a busy family day of gifts and food. They enjoy their quiet time to reflect and prepare. They fill my heart, but how I envy them.

My thoughts are interrupted by a commotion in the kitchen.

I look up to see that the cat is eating the dog’s food . . . and the dog is humping his Blue Bear.

((Sigh))

This time of year can be rough on some of us.

blue bear

Merry Christmas, my friends.

I wish you love, peace, health, and happiness.

xoxoJulia

Categories: Family, Friends, God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

PRECIOUS WATER LILY

A water lily is born in the darkness beneath the water, and grows upward, reaching towards the light. When it arrives at the surface, it is there that it blossoms . . . in the sunlight.

Similarly, our grief is born in the darkness of loss, where we struggle in our hopelessness to find the light again.

When we reach the surface, that place of bitter/sweet sad acceptance, it is there that we begin to grow.

The sun may not feel as bright, but it is still warm.

And although we are not the same as we once were . . .

WATER LILIEScloseup

. . . we can still blossom again.

In our grief we may be overcome by the emptiness and pain of our loss, and isolate. We want to seclude ourselves from what we need the most; the care and comfort from those we love.

It is good to say the words . . .

WATER LILIESblog

“I am not alone”.

 

Categories: Grief/Healing, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , | 36 Comments

AN AUTHOR, AN ANGEL & A HEALING BRICK

I lost my infant son almost 30 years ago.

He was my only child and I donated his tiny precious body to Science in the hopes that through medical education he could somehow prevent another person from knowing my heartbreak.

I knew I didn’t need a gravesite to honor him; I could honor him in my heart. And I didn’t think I needed a piece of granite to grieve him.

But I was wrong.

Last year, I learned about Richard Paul Evans, author of the book, “The Christmas Box”, and about a statue that he commissioned called, “The Christmas Box Angel Statue”.

The short version is this:

He wrote a fictional story in which he mentioned a woman grieving the loss of her baby while at the foot of a beautiful statue of an angel.

The book was published and soon grieving readers began inquiring of the location of the statue, and since it no longer existed, the author had one created.

It is bronze and beautiful, and surrounded by a hexagon of 800 paving bricks, which can be purchased and engraved with a name or message in honor of a lost child.

angel statue frm afar

There are now Christmas Box Angel Statues all across the country and each year on December 6th at 7:00 pm, there is a candlelight vigil held at every one of them.

Last year I got my son’s engraved memory brick. The first time I saw it, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea how desperately I needed healing. Until it happened.

I wrote this piece a few months later:

THE HEALING BRICK

Nervously, I approach the Angel Statue thinking I’ll have to search for my son’s recently engraved and installed paving brick, but I look down and there it is, nestled in amongst all the other little angels, his name in print, for the entire world to see.

This sight provokes something unfamiliar in me, deep in my soul, in my very core. I kneel down and through my thin grey slacks I can feel the cold, hard, roughness of the bricks on my knees.

“My knees could bleed as I pay homage”, I think, as if atoning, “let them; I would almost be grateful.”

I touch his name.

“Oh sweetie, look at you; you’re finally here.” I whisper.

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Humbly, I bend down and kiss his words. Instantly I flash back to the hospital and he is in my arms again, and now I am not feeling the cold textured brick, but I am kissing his face.

I open my eyes, tears streaming.

Like a cat coughing up an unmanageable hairball, thirty years of guilt, grief, and torment begin to rise, large and ugly, from deep within and catch in my throat.

I remember when I was pregnant with him and how I didn’t watch my diet and I didn’t reduce my stress and I didn’t get enough sleep. And I remember laboring, and how I screamed, “Don’t let me die!” but I didn’t scream for the life of my own son.

“Please, forgive me.” I whisper.

I hear a guttural animal groan escape from inside me as the words allow my agony to detach itself and release.

I was like a broken bone that had healed misaligned and needed to be re-broken so that it could be set right and mend properly.

Michael’s brick has been my one quick SNAP! I am now re-broken, re-set, and relieved.

I am deeply comforted and grateful, and finally healing well.

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I cherish the moments. Please read, “WOULD I GRIEVE A SUNRISE?” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-cH.

Will you please share this? Too often the loss of an infant is suffered quietly and alone, and whether it was yesterday or 30 years ago, healing is needed. I hope that this helps you or someone you know.

For the location of a Christmas Box Angel Statue near you, or information about purchasing a memory brick, please visit the website of Richard Paul Evans at: www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations.

Categories: Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Inspiration/Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 65 Comments

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

On Sunday, October 7, 2012, I attend a community walk called, “Out of the Darkness”, at Lake Erie Metro Park in Brownstown, Michigan.

“Proceeds from this event benefit the AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION (AFSP), the leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of suicide through research, education, and advocacy, and to reaching out to those suffering with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.”


SUICIDE CLAIMS MORE THAN 38,000 LIVES A YEAR. Did you know that? Think about that number for a minute . . . 38,000 lives every year.

Every 14.2 minutes, a person successfully takes their own life. And every minute of the day, a person attempts to take their own life. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. And it is the 3rd leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.

This event is personal to me because in 1996, my sister, Chris, took her own life. She was 38 years old. I still struggle with this loss, and the grief and torment that accompany it. And due to my struggles with bipolar disorder, I have come dangerously close to losing myself (1 of every 5 people suffering with bipolar disorder takes their own life).

From left: My sister, Chris, and me, as children.

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Intelligent and compassionate Gerri Asam Trager is the organizer of the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” for the downriver area. She and her amazing band of beautiful volunteers are the primary reason for this event’s huge success.

Gerri Asam Trager, on right. (Photo taken from AFSP Downriver Out of the Darkness Walk, Facebook event page, by Bob Eccles).

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It is a cloudy, chilly day, but attendance is high, as are the spirits of the organizers, volunteers, and walkers.

  

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This beautiful woman, Jaqueline Worthey, a poetry reader, graces the stage by reading a special poem every year at this event.

 

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We are blessed with the kind and compassionate, former Detroit Lion’s football player, Eric Hipple, who speaks to us straight from the heart.

 

After losing his own 15-year-old son in 2000 to suicide, Hipple now travels the country and gives speeches to High Schools, Youth Groups, the U.S. Military, and Corporations, on suicide prevention and Mental Illness. His book, “Real Men Do Cry”, published in 2009, discusses his playing career with the Lions and his experiences with depression, grief, and suicide prevention.

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We are then introduced to the lovely and extremely talented, NEENUH. There are no words to describe her beautiful voice.

Connect with Neenuh on Facebook. She performs solo shows (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica) around Downriver, MI. Search “Neenuh” on YouTube and you will find uploads of her videos.

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And we are delighted by the amazing talent of Fiddler, Mick Gavin, who plays onstage AND along our walking path. Wonderful!

Gavin was born in Co. Clare, Ireland. Since the 1970’s, he has performed concerts with many traditional Irish performers in the Chicago and Detroit areas. Mick now teaches Irish fiddle throughout the Detroit metropolitan area. Three of his students took 2nd at the All-Ireland in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 2002.

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The 3.5-mile walk begins on this gorgeous Autumn afternoon.

 

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Even the canines walk the walk!

  

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Afterwards, we are treated to hot food and refreshing beverages, and a safe place for good conversation. There is also a raffle which offers terrific prizes of food and services generously donated by some of our local restaurateurs and merchants.

We bond over our losses and experiences, but join together to celebrate life . . . and bring about change.

AND OUT OF THE DARKNESS . . .

. . . COMES HOPE.

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For information or to make a donation, (donations for walks can be made thru 12/31/12 for this year), contact:

GERRI ASAM TRAGER, AFSP Board Member, AFSP Community Outreach Volunteer, Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor Chapter. Phone: 810-229-4266. The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org . Also see: www.outofthedarkness.org and survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

If you have lost someone you love to suicide: www.afsp.org/survivingsuicideloss

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, PLEASE CALL 800-273-TALK 8255)*

Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Photography, Physical Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

A BRILLIANT STAR

A brilliant star was plucked from the night

but Heaven got brighter

Can that be right?

I think of you and I understand why

You’re making God smile

and it lights up the sky!

Categories: Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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