I have borrowed the following questions from another site: http://abedformyheart.com/interview-with-maeves-mom/. Thank you, Kathleen, for introducing me by way of your own blog: http://kathleenmoulton.com/2015/11/04/this-is-it-exactly/. I thought as I read the interview with Maeve’s Mom how I would answer. My experience more than qualifies me. I read the comments from other moms who know all too well the suffering that goes beyond the expression of words.
We are mothers who grieve the loss of our children. Like all moms who suffer this sorrow, we remember our children by commemorating pages of love and remembrance, joy and pain, laughter and tears, by way of our cyber diaries written to no one and to everyone. Our children will not be forgotten. While our feelings may be dismissed by those around us, we will not allow our children to be taken from us twice because of the insensitivity of others. They are still here beside us, in our hearts, around us, and through us. Their given names are forever inscribed on our hearts, still spoken by our lips, spoken softly in our quiet hours, shouted boldly in moments of despair and longing.
“I am still trying to figure out how to be happy and sad at the same time, hopeful and devastated, looking forward while still looking back.” – Jess McCormack
). If you could describe your life now in one word, what word would you choose and why? Hopeful. I know that we can be sad and hopeful at the same time because of Christ Jesus. I still succumb to the vast range of emotions brought about by the human condition. Grief is at the core of my existence now, but it does not define me. God holds me up.
2). What’s one way you wish your family/friends would have supported you in the first couple years post-loss? I have learned that men and women grieve differently. My husband seemed “over it” not long after our son died. He was able to make it through the day without crying, without mentioning Brandon’s name…and while to him it may have seemed like a kind of strength, it only made me angry…angry on top of everything else. He was good about taking over with those things that had to be done and for that I was very grateful. Emotionally he was not there for me. I wish he could have grieved with me instead of against me. I understand how some marriages do not survive the death of a child.
3). What is one question you long for people to ask you? I have none.
4). What’s one question you wish they wouldn’t ask? How did he die?
5). How have you integrated the loss of your child into your everyday life? I mention Brandon’s name to someone every day of my life. Some times I share what is on my mind or just some little something that makes me smile about his personality, his love of certain movies, the way he laughed and talked.
6). Describe a day in your life now. What is it like to be *you* today? What does it feel like, look like, and taste like? My life is a quiet one, dictated by my physical pain. I am no longer the gardener I once was who prided myself in making my yard pretty. Now I am more sedentary…sadly, I watch too much t.v., I read, write, do housework, go to church, go to Bible study, choir practice, shop, and talk on the phone with family mostly.
7). How would you define the word “hope”? An expectation of something good.
8). What does the word “healing” mean to you? To be whole again.
9). If you could offer another bereaved parent some hope to hold onto, what you would tell them? God has made a way for us to be with our children again. We will be reunited so therefore we can and do learn to cope with this loss in time.
10). What gifts have you found in the midst of your suffering? God’s personal message to me of knowing “it is well” with my son. There are no others gifts like His.
11). How has your loss changed you? I am forever without my son in this life and that has made an impact on just about every single thing, especially the pleasure and happiness we have had in our family. Although, we can laugh now when we gather for holidays and such, I am silently crying in my heart because I am greatly missing my boy. Death kills more than its victim. I find that I am bolder, braver, more empathetic, patient, sadder, and more emotional. My faith has deepened and my hope is built on all of God’s promises.
12). What do you find to be the most horrific, gut-wrenching, torturous part about life after the loss of your child? Never really knowing what happened that night. Hoping that truth will one day be ours.
12.5). What have you found to be the most beautiful part of life after loss? Someone sharing with me how Brandon affected their life.
13). How has your child’s death changed your relationship with your husband? Any arguments we may have don’t seem as important like they once were. We apologize and are done with it.
14). What is your biggest trigger, and what helps you cope when it hits? The very word “trigger” is a trigger for me because of the way my son died by a self-inflicted gun wound. I have become calloused to a point about some things that are sure to remind of my son’s death. Football for one. Movies. Songs.
15). What is one thing about your grief, your circumstance, or your life now that you do not feel free to say out loud? And what usually keeps you from sharing it? I AM STILL GRIEVING PEOPLE!!!! I don’t want to rain on someone else’s happiness.
16). What do you want the world to really really know about life after loss? Nothing will ever be the same. There is no way to prepare yourself for the inevitable except through being mindful of all you have learned through faith in God. And even though you will still suffer excruciating pain, God will see you through. Hold on to hope.
17). What kind of grief support have you found to be most helpful? I have found that writing down my feelings in an online blog or journal is therapy for me. We attended a few grief group meetings in the beginning and it seemed somewhat helpful but there is a ‘nakedness’…a vulnerability in that kind of atmosphere that makes some people uncomfortable and maybe unwilling to make bare their feelings to strangers.
18). What do you want the world to know about your precious child? He was a good person. Everyone who did know him knew of his fantastic wit, his creativeness, and his kindness. He loved to make us laugh. He loved to write and produce his own video movie shorts. He was an artist like his sisters. He was very self-disciplined when it came to work outs and goals. He was handsome. He wrote about God and wrote his prayers in a journal. His name was Michael Brandon Heath!!
19). How would you describe your life as a bereaved parent? I am more of everything I ever was to begin with and less of the woman I had hoped of ever being.
20). What is the hardest part about your everyday life now? The desire to be in Heaven instead of this horrible world.
21). How do you keep your child’s memory alive? I will remember Brandon in conversations whenever possible. I have a picture(s) of him in nearly every room of my house including my bathroom. I set a place with a lit candle and a picture of him eating at Thanksgiving, I made a special ornament with him and Jesus for our Christmas tree along with all the ornaments he made as a child, I have a special set up in the mancave with all of his football and sports memorabilia, like trophies and pictures and his letter jacket. I have my dining room cabinet filled with photos and odds and ends that have special importance about his life…..we will never forget our Brandon. My flower garden is named Brandon’s Garden. Brandon is everywhere! His memory is alive.
22). If you could say anything without worrying about the way people would react, what would it be? Suicide is not a sin! It is the result of a physical condition that scientists are just now beginning to understand. Don’t judge my son.
23). What do you wish the world understood about the reality of being a bereaved parent? That a whole person is missing…a child that was created out of love, who was wanted..born, nurtured and is now gone. We will always be in one or more of the stages of grief for the rest of our lives.
24). What helps you most when you feel waves of anger, despair, or grief? Crying.
25). What has given/gives you the strength to keep on keeping on? My belief in God…my faith in Christ. People who care enough to ask me how I am doing today.
26). What makes you feel most connected to your child who is no longer here? Remembering all that he was and still is to me.
27). What is one thing that would help make your burden lighter today? To be in Heaven.
28). If you could tell your child anything, what would it be? I tell Brandon all the time how much I love and miss him. I always ask Jesus to kiss him for me. I want him to know just how much his life meant to all of us. I want him to know that I was never mad at him for the way he may have died.
29). If Brandon could tell you anything, what do you think he would say to you? He would be absolutely excited about Heaven. I would hope that he would tell me all about meeting Jesus, about how Heaven looks, smells, and sounds. I would like to know who all did he meet in Heaven.
30). If you could choose one picture that best visualizes/represents your life now post-loss, what would it be? I think of Brandon with Jesus and how it must be for him now. I only wish to be there with Jesus and Brandon and my whole family one day. My hope is built on nothing less.