I opened up Carepages today and discovered that two more of our cancer friends have gone on to see Jesus and Brooke. I can´t explain the pain this evokes inside my own heart as I read how a Mom and Dad held their child and placed their hands on his heart until the final heartbeat was felt. Many have said that this moment is a glorious one as you hold your loved one´s hand as they leave this life and step into eternity. Although I am so very glad I was able to be with my girl and she wasn´t in the hands of a stranger or all alone her last day, her last four hours, often bring me to my knees. Many nights, I lay in bed thinking of that day thinking what I could have done different wishing I could somehow change the outcome. To me, without a doubt, watching your child take their last breath has to be the most excruciating experience that we as humans might ever have to face. I have thought about all the different kinds of sufferings in this world and I would gladly take them all at the same time then to have to endure the loss and suffering of a child a life that you love way more than your own. Someone described to me recently about a 4-wheeler accident their child was involved in and the emergency room visit that followed. As they described their day of trauma, fear and anxiety, I began to tear up. My friend, sensing my emotional downhill plunge, asked me what was wrong. I said, "that feeling is just very familiar to me we experienced that intense fear and anxiety almost daily for two years." The many, many times I stood or kneeled beside Brooke´s bed as she cried or hurt and the intense desire in me to help her but always found myself unable to do enough, unable to take the pain away, unable to rescue her or protect her. So helpless. I struggle with this with all the suffering she experienced all the pain. How I wish it was me and not her a sweet, innocent, five year old, little girl. All these emotions flooded my heart this morning as I wept over our cancer friends that have left this life. Surely they are safe now but my heart breaks and hurts so desperately for all the loved ones they left behind for all the Mom´s and Dad´s and Sisters and Brothers.
Unfortunately, all of us who have lost a child, are now a part of group we never wished to join and the only group in which we feel we belong. Chaney and I have earnestly tried to "get back into the swing of things," but when we have, we have taken a chance on getting hurt of opening up fresh and raw wounds. You step out a little and test the water and depending on your experience, you either venture a little deeper or crawl back into hiding. I always, however, find safety with those who have suffered as we have. It is healing to just be together no words need be spoken for we know the pains of each other´s hearts the regrets, the agonizing thoughts, the fears, the depression, the anger, the loneliness and emptiness. There is really no need to talk but if we do, it is safe. Chaney and I long for this at times a safe place to rest to be ourselves. I know it is hard at times for people on the outside to relate and help. I do know that the motives and intentions of their hearts are good, but their ability to understand the degree and extent of the pain is limited. Today, I tried to write down a few things that might be helpful:
1.Do not relate their pain and loss to other tragedies such as: someone getting a divorce, etc. Although this is certainly difficult, it is very different.
2. Just serve. Looking back, we do not remember much of what people said to us, but we do remember all the little acts of kindness such as: meals, house cleaning, keeping other siblings. We had a family that took
3. Just be there. We had several ladies that just hung out at our house. They cleaned and they cooked for days. They welcomed all the company and keep things going. When we did decide to talk or cry, they were there.
4. Just listen. It is hard to find someone to just sit and listen. I think that is why counselors/psychologists are much more prevalent these days. It is sad to think that we have to pay to have someone just listen. You do not have to have answers even if they ask (I always asked). There are no good answers nothing that will justify the sacrifice of their child.
5. Try not to go on and on about your kids or your life. Although on a good day, they would probably be interested in your child´s soccer game, they cannot "hear" what you are saying. It sounds like "blahblahblahblah."
6. Don´t apologize for not helping out during their tragedy because you are too busy. If you are too busy to help out certainly, don´t tell them that.
7. Try not to over-use the "They are in a better place no more pain" phrase. Although, as parents we are so glad our kids are in a better place we grieve because they are not with us, and now we have to try to live the rest of our lives with a giant hole in our hearts.
8. Don´t tell them to remember that they have other children to attend to and a spouse. They know that. But unfortunately, at the moment, it feels like both legs and both arms have been cut off, and at the moment, they are having trouble even breathing. You know, you can get-over a Cold or a scrape, but when your leg is chopped off, it is a little more difficult. That leg will not grow back. Even if you got a prosthetic limb, it will not take the place of the original. And as a phantom limb illustrates by aching and hurting for the rest of your life, so does your heart and mind ache continuously when you lose a child a reminder that a part of you is gone.
9. Don´t rush (or be quick to judge) the grieving process. I am convinced it is a lifelong process and adjustment. It is a new way to live. The whole entire family is affected holidays are traumatic (one person is always missing) marriages have to re-adjust, and the siblings are lonely and angry as well. The whole dynamics of the family have been turned upside down.
10. Let them feel whatever they are feeling. I have received such healing from friends and family that will just let me say and do and be what I need to be in the moment.
11. Be understanding. Be understanding of their quietness, their anger, their solitude, their hiding. One day, they will come out from hiding and start going out in public again and answering their phone. Until then, do not take it personally. It really has nothing to do with you.
12. Be willing to be a friend not only on the sunny days, but also on the rainy. I shared with someone recently that all our days are rainy right now. We are probably not the most exciting, best people to hang with but it means a lot to us when some of our friends have chosen to stay beside us even on our rainy days when we have very little to offer.
13. Be forgiving of the "angry" things said or done. Anger is such a big issue in grieving. I guess that is why many marriages do not succeed. You really have to extend lots of grace and mercy. I can´t tell you how many times I have had to say "I really don´t mean anything I just said. Please forgive me."
14. Remember and talk about their loved one. Someone not too long ago sent BIG Love a check and at the bottom they wrote, "I love Brooke." I cried and cried. It meant so much to me that someone else, that never met Brooke, loves her and that she still means a lot to them.
15. Don´t act like their child never existed. I like to talk about Brooke, and I like to know that others think about her. She will always be a part of us. We have her pictures all around, and we all like to talk about Brookie stories. The good memories help keep the traumatic thoughts away.Hope this helps a little, Jessica