Wednesday, May 13, 2015


A couple of weeks ago, the cattle returned to the pasture near our house.
Everything felt right with the world.

Yesterday, the cattle were grazing along with the gentle deer.
It was just too much.

I can’t explain why these images are so soothing.
Maybe it’s the demands of being a helper.  I enjoy the peace of this place.

Maybe it’s this journey with the silent companion.  Seeing familiar images, knowing that the world still carries on, is healing.
I suppose the why doesn’t matter.

The truth is that is brings comfort.
Just like seeing a little girl curled up on the couch with a book.  Or hearing a bigger girl sing in the shower.

Some days, I hold onto these moments tightly.
The simplicity of life is found in these moments.

At times, life is full of complications and heartache.
It’s nice to find this quiet joy.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Feeling the Feelings

Mother’s Day turned out to be the low point that I hoped it wouldn’t be.

This grief still sneaks up.

I’m sure that the weather we have been having had some impact on all of this.  A week of rain, which eventually turned into snow.  So it snowed on Mother’s Day for the second year in a row.

I don’t know how I ever survived a Midwest winter with all of the cold gray days.
A week without the Colorado sunshine and I’m close to the fetal position, having vitamin D withdrawals.

During these low points, I try to do everything I can to take care of myself.  Sewing, exercise, reading.  Avoiding eating a bunch of cookies.  Avoiding facebook for a couple of days.  All of those good self-care things that my social worker self knows how to do.
Still with all of that, it doesn’t make the sadness go away.  And frankly, it shouldn’t.

Some days just feel crummy.  And that’s ok. 
Because I know that if I pretend to be happy and ok, the sadness just lingers on.  And it seeps through anyway.  So I go through all of this trouble pretending and still feel like crap.

It’s ok to have low times.  Because I know that tomorrow (or maybe in a couple days), I’m going to feel a lot better.
Sadness is real. 

But wow, does it make other people uncomfortable.  Some people want to cheer you up out of the sadness or talk through the sadness until you aren’t sad anymore.  I will admit, that as a professional helper, this is so challenging.  To simply be with someone in pain.  To accept that you are not there to fix them, you are simply part of their story.
I don’t expect anyone to fix this.  It is nice to have folks that I can talk to, who can lend an ear, who can validate that this is real for me and that it is ok to feel like crap.

Maybe that’s the self-care that we don’t always talk about as helpers, feeling the feelings.  It’s ok to have a low day.  And while I’m having that day, I’m taking care of myself with all those great things, but those great things don’t need to erase the pain.  It makes it tolerable.  It gives me hope that it won’t last forever.
Because I know by now in this journey with the silent companion that there will be an upswing.  If there wasn’t by now, I would see a professional helper.  Maybe I should see one anyway.  I go back and forth about that one.

For now, I’m not going to pretend.  It’s exhausting.  And grief is already exhausting. 
I’m going to give myself permission to feel whatever it is in the moment.

And take care of myself.
And finally watch the sun rise.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Being a Mom after Losing Your Mom

I didn’t realize that being a mom after losing your mom could be so hard.  Although, I suppose I never thought about it until I was there.

A couple of months ago, the girls and I were in the car when this story came on the radio.  They interviewed this woman who was working on the other side of the world.  I think the story was about whatever job she had.  The reporter asked her how she ended up so far from home, and she reflected that after her mom died, she felt that she needed to run away.

When I heard her say that, I thought, I want to run away too.  And I don’t know where that thought came from, but the idea of running away from this silent companion of grief…well…there was a certain freedom to it.
Then I felt this hand on my shoulder.  It was Katy.  She had been listening to the story and put her hand on my shoulder to comfort me.  We were both quiet.

It’s obvious that the girls are more aware of things than maybe I would like for them to be.  I guess part of me wants to shield them from this grief.  From this sadness and heartache. 
But they’ve seen me at some bad moments.  And I know, deep inside, that it’s ok for them to know that we can be sad when we lose someone that we love.

The girls give me these looks sometimes, it’s almost like a head tilt, where they are wondering if I’m sad.  And sometimes I smile at them.  Even when I want to run in the other room and cry.  And sometimes I don’t smile because I can’t.
I have these lapses.  I’m ok, and then I’m good and then suddenly I’m not ok.  My guess is that my parenting during these past months reflects that.
I wanted to rush through the holidays.  The day after Christmas, Billy asked if I wanted him to take the Christmas tree down and I probably said, YES!, a little too urgently.  He thought it was sad that I was so excited for the holidays to be over.

I suppose it was sad, but anyone who has ever been grieving knows how much the holidays can suck.  Yes, suck.  There is no other word.  And I was delighted to have them over with. 
And then I felt a little guilty that I probably wasn’t the best holiday mom this year.  It’s not that I had a bad attitude.  I just didn’t want to think about the holidays.  Because thinking brought the sadness.  And I was in survival mode.  You can’t take time for personal reflection when you are surviving.  You are just getting through.

So right now, I’m having one of those good times and am finally able to sit down to write again.  At least for today.
My upswing has arrived just in time for a holiday about moms.  After I lost my mom. 

That deep sadness isn’t there like it has been with the other holidays.  There is sadness, and I miss my mom.  But there isn’t that crippling grief.  At least not today.  And I hope not tomorrow either.
Because during these upswings I would like to think that I am able to be the mom I want to be.  The mom who listens to her kids.  The mom who knits with her oldest gal.  The mom who reads poetry with her littlest lady.

The mom who isn’t thinking about running away.
I’m thankful that the lapses are improving.  And I seem to recover faster from the not ok times than before.

I also know that grief is a journey.  It is always with you.  It shapes who you are.
Kind of like being a mom.