Tag Archives: mourning

Parenting Under the Influence

24 Mar

 

Photo by Shannon Kringen, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Shannon Kringen, Flickr Creative Commons

As more people are having kids later in life, many find themselves navigating the unchartered waters of parenting without the guidance of their own parents to help light the way.

When I lost my adored mother-in-law, Sue, and grandmother-in-law, Shirley, mere months after having my first child, the thought of raising my daughter without them was, well, incomprehensible.

But the other day, as I was booking a theatre class for my toddler, I realized: I am parenting under the influence…

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The Hard Part Begins

12 Dec

Last Photo of SueAs many of you know, this blog began because of Sue. I needed a positive way to cope with grief, new motherhood, and the task of teaching my child about the amazing grandmother she’d never know. My hope was to help other parents as well.

Szaba was five months old when Sue passed, so for several years, that task as been a goal and a commitment, but not a tangible, everyday reality.

Granted, we talk about Sue—and Shirley—daily. We share our memories about them, reassure Szaba of their love, and weave special things about them into our daily joys and values. But now, three years later, the hard part begins. Szaba is asking questions. And I don’t always have the answers.

It started at bedtime one night when she was asking who had gotten her that book or that stuffed animal or that blanket. Some were from her Grandma Cathy or Grandma Kristin. Some were from Grandma Suzy or Great Grandma Shirley.

That prompted Szaba to ask why she hadn’t seen Sue or Shirley since she was a baby (evident from several pictures around her room).

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10 Things in Honor of Sue

2 Dec

sueszaba_small.jpgThree years ago today, we lost Sue. It hardly seems real when stated so bluntly. And yet there it is. The facts belying a long journey of emotional pitfalls, resilient hopes, and surprisingly strong motivation.

On the first anniversary, I wrote that it “wrung my soul out to dry.” That emotion has mellowed over time, though it remains poignantly poised at the heart of today. And I still “wander through those last hours like the abandoned sets of a movie.” I don’t know when or if there will ever be a year where that’s not the case.

But I do know that Sue wouldn’t want anyone to waste valuable time mourning. Alive. In this moment. Together. That’s the mantra she’d want us to have.

So rather than throwing a pity party, I do the following 10 things every year on this anniversary, in honor of her life, not death.

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Taxing Poetic

25 Mar
Photo by Esther Perez

Photo by Esther Perez

What I was prepared for was preparing my taxes.

A pile of paperwork sat close at hand. An empty spreadsheet awaited the figures of another year gone by.

What I wasn’t prepared for was an existential crisis.

It’s no coincidence that Shirley, my incredible grandma-in-law, died nearly a year ago. It was a year after I started this blog in memory of Sue, her daughter. Needless to say, this second blow was all the more crippling from the wounds of the first.

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Dia de Los Muertos

2 Nov

I usually do a funny, frivolous post on Fridays, but with Dia de Los Meurtos culminating today, I’m inclined to do something a little different, if that’s alright with you.

As I wrote last year, fall and the holidays have a particularly poignant shade for many of us who grieve.

I use “grieve” in the present tense, for contrary to early thoughts on the subject, there is no finish line in grief, but rather a new appreciation for life with that grief in tow.

Thus I remind you (and myself):

  • Talk about the loved one you miss, for your sake and your kids‘.
  • Show your kids it’s okay to feel sad and happy.
  • And most of all, appreciate moments now, as you’re living them.

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Grief: My Uninvited Guest

9 Jul

I’m not going to lie to you, friends. As fun as Szaba’s 2-year birthday was, it was also … hard.

At year 1, we didn’t have Sue. At year 2, we didn’t have Shirley.

Perhaps unwisely, I hadn’t accounted for an appearance by Grief, my uninvited guest. I guess I was so deep in planning mode I hadn’t allowed myself the time and space to acknowledge the full bouquet of emotions this confluence of events might entail.

Then on the morning of Szaba’s party, I was blindsided on my way to pick up icing tips for the cake (particularly for a special mini cake that I would decorate in the tradition of Sue and Sue’s father).

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Reach Out

18 Jun

Besides my sister Robin, there’s no one in the world I’ve been friends with longer than Amber. And yet, even I had no idea what to say to her when I found out her younger brother had died in a car crash.

Four years later, this Castle Heart project finally gave me the nerve to reach out beyond the surface sentiments commonly accepted in our society. I asked her about how she is feeling now and what she’d taken away from that fateful night. I offered her this blog as a platform to open up, share, and say anything left unsaid.

This is the result, and it’s a message that—heartbreakingly—needs to be heard.

Thank you, Amber. I’m honored not only that you went to the trouble, but also that you bared your soul so honestly, so imploringly. I can’t help but think there’s someone out there that needs to read this today. And if they do, you and your brother will make a life-changing difference in that person’s life. Know that. Take comfort in that.

If Amber’s story reaches out to you, please let her know in the comments below.

FROM AMBER:

I can see the episode play out before me as if I was a third party watching it unfold. It’s been engrained in my mind. It was a cold Sunday morning in February 2008. The phone rang. My heart started to race a little as I said hello for the third time; the silence on the other end was deafening.

Through the sobs, I was told disturbing news as I paced the bedroom floor. I remained strong on the outside, pushing awake panic for what seemed an eternity. When my parents hung up, it I felt like I was coming up for air after being submerged in water. I collapsed to my knees, trying to make sense of what I just heard.

Cory was gone. How could this be?

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