Friday, February 26, 2010

Another one, also very true.

Who Gets in Your Bucket? - By Doug Manning
The best way I know to picture how we receive help from others in grief is to imagine you are holding a bucket. The size and color doesn't matter. The bucket represents the feelings bottled up inside of you when you are in pain. If you have suffered a loss, hold the bucket and think through how you feel right now. If you are reading this to learn more about helping others, then imagine what would be in your bucket if a loved one had died very recently. What is in your bucket?

Fear. Will I survive? What will happen to me now? Who will care for me? Who will be with me when I need someone near? Most likely your bucket is almost full just from the fear. But there is also:

Pain. It is amazing how much physical pain there is in grief. Your chest hurts, and you can't breathe. Sometimes the pain is so intense your body refuses to even move. There is enough pain to fill the bucket all by itself.

Sorrow. There is devastating sadness; overwhelming sorrow. A gaping hole has been bitten out of your heart and it bleeds inside your very soul. You cry buckets of tears and then cry some more.

Loneliness. There is no lonely like that felt when you are in a room full of people and totally alone at the same time. Loneliness alone can fill any bucket ever made.

I could go on, but that's enough to get the idea across, and hopefully get you started thinking through your own list. What is in your bucket?

Now picture someone like me approaching you and your bucket. I also have a bucket. My bucket is full of explanations. I am armed and ready to explain why your loved one had to die, how they are now better off and how you should feel.

I am also well equipped with new ways to look at your loss. In politics they call that "spin doctoring," but most human beings seem to know this skill by instinct.

I have almost a bucketful of comforting words and encouraging sayings. I can also quote vast amounts of scriptures. I seem to favor the ones that tell you not to grieve.

So we face each other armed with full buckets. The problem is, I don't want to get into your bucket. Yours is scary. If I get in there, you might start crying and I may not be able to make you stop. You might ask me something I could not answer. There is too much intimacy in your bucket. I want to stand at a safe distance and pour what is in my bucket into yours. I want the things in my bucket to wash over your pain like some magic salve to take away your pain and dry your tears. I have this vision of my words being like cool water to a dry tongue, soothing and curing as it flows.

But your bucket is full. There is no room for anything that is in my bucket. Your needs are calling so loudly there is no way you could hear anything I say. Your pain is far too intense to be cooled by any verbal salve, no matter how profound.

The only way I can help you is to get into your bucket, to try to feel your pain, to accept your feelings as they are and make every effort to understand. I cannot really know how you feel. I cannot actually understand your pain or how your mind is working under the stress, but I can stand with you through the journey. I can allow you to feel what you feel and learn to be comfortable doing so. That is called, "Getting into your bucket."

I was speaking on "Guilt and Anger in Grief " to a conference of grieving parents. I asked the group what they felt guilty about. I will never forget one mother who said, "All the way to the hospital, my son begged me to turn back. He did not want the transplant. He was afraid. I would not turn back, and he died."

I asked her how many times someone had told her that her son would have died anyway. She said, "Hundreds." When I asked her if that had helped her in any way she said, "No."

I asked her how many times she had been told that she was acting out of love and doing the right thing. She gave the same two responses. "Many times" and "No, it did not help."

I asked her how many times she had been told that God had taken her son for some reason, and she gave the same responses--"Many" and "No help."

I asked how many times someone had told her that it had been four years since her son's death and it was time to "Put that behind you and get on with your life." This time she responded with great anger that she had heard that from many well-meaning people, including family members, and that it not only did not help, it added to her pain and made her angry.

What I was really asking her is, "How many people have tried to pour their buckets into yours?"

I then said, "Would it help if I hugged you and said 'that must really hurt'?"

She said, "That would help a great deal. That would really help."

Why would that help? Because I was offering to get into her bucket with her and to be in her pain, instead of trying to salve over her pain with words and explanations.

If you are in pain, find someone who will get into your bucket. Most of the time these folks are found in grief groups or among friends who have been there. It is not normal procedure. It is hard to swallow our fears and climb into your bucket.

If you are reading this to find ways to help others in grief, then lay aside your explanations and your words of comfort. Forget all of the instructions and directions you think will help, and learn to say, "That must really hurt." I think that is the most healing combination of words in the English language. They really mean, "May I feel along with you as you walk through your pain?" "May I get into your bucket?"


I found this online today and thought I'd share.   It is a great guide for anyone who knows someone who has lost a child.   

When You Wish Upon A Star......

Every time that I am in a group of bereaved parents, I hear people say things like "I wish my child hadn't died" or 'I wish I had him back.' That wish, unfortunately, can never come true.

The other wish I hear is, 'I wish my friends (or church or neighbors or relatives) understood what I am going through and were more supportive.' This is a wish that has some possibility of coming true if we are able to be honest and assertive with the people around us. What do we wish others understood about the loss of our child? Here is a partial list of such wishes.

1. I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was important and I need to hear his name.

2. If I cry or get emotional if we talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me; the fact that my child died has caused my tears. You have allowed me to cry and I thank you. Crying and emotional outbursts are healing.

3. I wish you wouldn't "kill" my child again by removing from your home his pictures, artwork or other remembrances.

4. I will have emotional highs and lows, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn't think that if I have a good day my grief is all over or that if I have a bad day I need psychiatric counseling.

5. I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separately. It is the ultimate tragedy and I wish you wouldn't compare it to your loss of a parent, a spouse or a pet.

6. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn't shy away from me.

7. I wish you knew that all of the 'crazy' grief reactions I am having are in fact very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following the death of a child.

8. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. The first few years are going to be exceedingly traumatic for us. As with alcoholics, I will never be "cured" or a "former bereaved parent," but will forevermore be a "recovering bereaved parent."

9. I wish you understood the physical reactions to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, develop a host of illnesses and be accident prone, all of which may be related to my grief.

10. Our child's birthday, the anniversary of his death, and holidays are terrible times for us. I wish you could tell us that you are thinking about our child on these days, and if we get quiet and withdrawn, just know that we are thinking about our child and don't try to coerce us into being cheerful.

11. It is normal and good that most of us reexamine our faith, values and beliefs after losing a child. We will question things we have been taught all our lives and hopefully come to some new understanding with our God. I wish that you would let me tangle with my religion without making me feel guilty.

12. I wish you wouldn't offer me drinks or drugs. These are just temporary crutches and the only way I can get through this grief is to experience it. I have to hurt before I can heal.

13. I wish you understood that grief changes people. I am not the same person I was the moment before my child died and I never will be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to get back to get back to my old self, you will stay frustrated. I am a new creature with new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values and beliefs. Please try to get to know the new me - maybe you'll like me still. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't forget to go vote for Victoria if you haven't already!    She's only in first by about 50 votes and we have to keep her there until Friday.   Your vote will mean another $5,000 for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation and SMA.  

I do hope everyone who reads my blog, who knows Eli's story, will go and vote.  It seems senseless for to me to keep writing here if people aren't willing to jump in and help out.    If you invest time in reading my words, I figure you care enough about finding a cure to click a few buttons to help out....right?   Don't let me down.   Vote, vote, VOTE!

I put some new cards up on my card blog yesterday.   :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

All Good Things...

..must come to an end, right?   I must say yes on that one. I had a great week last week.   I had tons of energy, got so much cleaning done, and even ventured out and had my hair cut and colored (it had been 18 months since I did that!).   This week has started off on a bad note and I feel like last week was just a fluke.    Jason and I have both been in a crabby mood today.    We did get out today and managed to have a nice lunch and do most of the grocery shopping for the week.   I teared up a little at the restaurant and then a lot at Target.  The cereal aisle was the breaking point for me.  There was a family there and the kids were saying the funniest/cutest things and it just broke my heart.    They reminded me of what I'm missing out on.   Jason is always a great comforter and I'm thankful when he's with me during those times.  

I don't know what are plans are for the rest of the week.    The news is getting all crazy and saying we might have some snow tomorrow, but we'll see.   It is going to be cold for the rest of week so I'm glad we bought all the ingredients to make up some soups for the week!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I started watching 16 and Pregnant on MTV before we lost Eli, but man is it hard to see now.   The first episode of the new season came on this week and it was one of the worst ever.   From what I read online, the girl continued to smoke pot during her pregnancy.   She was much like Farrah from last season, more interested in going out and partying, but much, much worse.   A few weeks in she was leaving the baby with her mom and going out and staying out most of the night.

A few things I saw/heard that shocked me:
1.  "I can't wait for Jace to start daycare".  Ugh.   I never saw myself as a stay-at-home mom, but there was no way I could have NOT been one.   The thought of leaving Eli with strangers was too scary for me...I knew from the moment we saw the positive result on the test that I couldn't leave him.     Most women are sad at the idea of daycare but find it necessary; to be excited about it is a bit messed up.  

2.  None of these girls seem interested in breastfeeding.   I've read a lot lately on breastfeeding and apparently it is mainly something that intelligent middle-class women from the suburbs do.   How sad is that?   Sad that the people who can afford to buy the formula are the ones not using it, while those who should be doing it are depending on the government to buy their baby's food.   I honestly thought my world had ended when I finally gave up trying to do it.   I wish my doctor had told me that my PCOS could cause a low to non-existent supply.  :(     It is the most amazing bonding experience and I feel sorry for the people who refuse to even try it.  

3.  Screaming and arguing:   That's all the mom and daughter do in front of the little guy. Sad.  

4.  "I need time for myself"  or when I'm out partying, "I'm making time for myself".  Ummm...yeah.  Probably should have thought about that before.    We all need a little time for ourselves, but you can't go to school all day and then party all night.

5. When your friends are having to tell you that you suck as a mom, you might need to reevaluate what you are doing.  

6.  "It's like being in prison".   How heartbreaking is that?  I'd gladly take that sentence.   I would hate what she'd say if her mom wasn't taking care of him 75% of the time.   He'd probably be shaken or beat.

It's just sad to see such a cute little baby have such a rough start in life.   It seems like she doesn't even want him.   She did say she wasn't ready to be a mom, but well, it is too late.  Her poor mom is now stuck raising a baby when she should have been close to being done.  

I think it would be hard to have a daughter in these times.   I know girls have been getting pregnant forever, but it seems so much more common now days and at younger ages.   I've heard about some of the things going on in middle schools and it is terrifying!    I would hope if I ever had a daughter I could build an open and honest relationship, one where we could talk about birth control and pregnancy.   I would hate to learn my daughter was having sex at the same time she was telling me she was pregnant.    It is a different time than the one we grew up in and attitudes and actions have to change to reflect that.   Putting blinders on and pretending there is no way your precious angel would be having sex at 12 is just not going to work anymore.  Sad, but true.  

That's my parenting lesson for the day.  :)  

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Victoria is now in first place for the Hero Next Door Contest, but voting doesn't end until the 26th.   Please consider voting if you haven't already.   It doesn't take long and it could mean another $5000 for SMA.  

Not much to report from here.    It's been a bit of a down week for me.  I've been a bit of an emotional wreck and my food choices have not been good.   I don't know what's wrong, but hopefully I can get it straightened out soon.   I pulled out the list of over-the-counter supplements for PCOS  that my doctor gave me ages ago.  I haven't had much luck with most of the prescription meds I've tried, but I'm going to go another route and see what happens.   It will be a lot pills to take a day, but if it makes me feel better and my body function normally, it will be worth it.  

I don't know if I mentioned it over here, but I started a blog for my cards.   If you want to see them now, you can find the link over on my sidebar.   I don't have that many posted yet, but I'm working on it.   I'm trying to make some up to start selling on Etsy.   I don't feel like they are good enough for that, but people have asked me about buying them so I'm going to try it out for a few months and see how it goes.   I'm willing to do anything to raise money for SMA.

One other thing I haven't posted about is the work we've been doing on Through Eli's Eyes.   My former coworker Wade has teamed up with Robin to help us finalize our federal application for nonprofit status.   He's such a sweet guy and to have him and Robin helping us is just amazing.   I love so many of the people who have stepped in to support us in the past year....  It never fails to bring tears to my eyes when I think about everyone who has jumped in to help with projects or offered a shoulder to cry on.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Time for another vote!

Another way to help raise money for SMA!   With another vote, you can add $5,000 more to the effort.      You can also post it to your Facebook page after you vote so your friends who supported us in the Chase campaign can jump in and help out once again!  

Here is the post from Gwendolyn's blog (and Victoria, you are a hero!):  

I'm no hero. No more so than any parent fighting for their child. But, if I win the "Hero Next Door" contest, that means $5,000 more for SMA research and awareness. And so, I am asking for your vote once again.

Care2 -- the company who hosts our, who has been incredibly supportive of our cause, and who we simply love -- has teamed up with Tom's of Maine to create the Hero Next Door contest -- every day people doing more. We were nominated, along with dozens of others, and here is the neat thing -- we made it to the top 10 finalists! Now this is where you come in...

Here is the breakdown:
  • Voting ends February 26th.
  • You can only vote ONCE.
  • The person with the most votes wins $2,500 for their charity and $2,500 for themselves -- which, in my case, would obviously go directly to research and awareness because there is nothing more important! So that's $5,000 for SMA -- all with a simple vote.
  • Technically only one person can win and so "Victoria" is the name you see, but the nomination is clearly for all of us -- including Gwendolyn.
How to vote:
  1. Go to: Hero Next Door
  2. Click on Vote for Victoria. (It is the green button at the bottom of the page.)
  3. Fill out the form (name, birthday, email and zip code).
  4. Click on the animal picture (to help stop spammers).
  5. And then hit "Vote" and that is it.
  6. You will see a big "Thanks for voting for Victoria Strong" to let you know your vote went through.
  7. Since you can only vote once, help spread the word by also using the "Tell a Friend" features on Facebook, email and Twitter by clicking on the icons on the right.
And again, all $5,000 will go to the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation to support SMA research and awareness! Thanks for once again supporting us and getting your voting skills out! We are all becoming pros :)
-Please take 30 seconds to go to to sign our petition to end SMA

Friday, February 5, 2010

I am so pissed off tonight.   I know I shouldn't watch the news and tonight I regret turning it on.   A "mother" was just arrested for starving her disabled nine year old daughter to death.   She had a feeding tube, but only weighed 15.5 pounds when she died.  To make it all worse, this woman has 10 kids.  TEN FUCKING KIDS.  

In the meantime, four children have died of SMA this week.   Four very wanted, very loved kids.   Four sets of parents are heartbroken because they could do nothing to save their precious child.

Don't ever ask me why I don't believe in your god.  

*I got back up to edit this because I figure it will probably offend some people.   I am leaving it because it is MY blog after all.  I write as a form of therapy; it helps get out all the emotions and makes things more manageable for me and my head.   My life isn't puppies and rainbows...I wish it was, but this is my reality.  Besides, I am saving money by writing and not breaking everything in the house.   It is tempting to smash everything in sight, but I try another approach first...sorry for the language, but mad isn't pretty.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hard to believe he'd be 18 months old today.   I can't even begin to image what he'd look like now, what he'd be doing.   That's just too much to even try to think about...