Good morning. Have you ever called someone to come and fix something in your home? Or maybe took your car to the mechanic to have something fixed? Maybe your like so many I know including myself that can fix stuff around the house, and with channels on you tube you can just do it yourself. There is a cartoon called Bob the builder. His motto is “Can we fix it? Yes we can!” I work in television and film and on a sitcom all the problems are solved in 30 minutes right? It’s quick. As a mother I have fixed many of things. I’ve hemmed pants, sewn buttons on, solved problems around the house, super glue at times has been my best friend. I have fixed “boo-boo’s” with band aids, I’ve even as some say fixed dinner.(laugh) Yet, on Jan. 19, 2013 as my son laid lifeless his bed, I couldn’t fix him. I couldn’t change what had already happened. I couldn’t reverse this. I wasn’t able to sit him on my lap and tell him everything will be ok. I couldn’t fix this tragic, terrible, thing. I was no longer the fixer….. I could not wipe the tears away with a tissue and make this ok. No amount of super glue, crazy glue, gorilla glue, tape, band-aids, nails, putty, or any other adhesive was going to hold my heart from the billions of pieces it had broken into. Honestly, I’ve never felt such pain in my life. Several times after his funeral I found myself at the Dr.’s office and the emergency room once because of the physical chest pain I had. I thought I was having a heart attack or something. The tests results came back each time as negative, EKG was nice and normal. The doctors could not fix my broken heart. There was a pain there that could not be detected with machines. It could not be detected or helped with medication to make it feel better or go away. As a child, I used to hear the term “Jesus will fix it” someone even made it into a song. When you are facing a monumental challenge what does that mean? What does Jesus will fix it really mean? I needed real answers. I could not focus on my hurt or my problem in order to get these answers. I had to rely on my faith. I could not leave my faith behind. I had to trust that God would show up. I was suffering, in pain, and needed help. What I had to understand was that even the most damaged, broken, unimaginable situation that I or anyone else could go through including the death of a child was not to hard for Jesus to heal. Who is God in character? He is for me and this is the truth. So it means that with my sorrow and pain I can’t be the center, he must be. Eliyah’s death had to be looked at from a different set of eyes. Yes my heart was bleeding out, but I know that God is persistently consistent and apart from him I could fix nothing!!! This is how my healing would be. This wasn’t going to be a neat little pretty package that all works out just fine and dandy, and end in a fairytale happily ever-after. In this “fixing” of it all would require me to know that my faith must continue to render that God is always Good. Always. This wasn’t going to be a sitcom fix as mentioned above. It was going to be a lifelong journey. A journey of remembering who God is through my faith, knowing that he cares for me. I didn’t have to be a fixer any more. I can quiet the sound of the hurt and let hope and faith resonate the loudest. His power alone can handle and manage it all.. What a healing to my hurt to know this. Love Always Wins!!
I remember the first day of school for all my children. Since preschool I’ve taken that first day photo like many other parents. Now, over the years I’ve watched parents get elaborate thanks to fantastic websites like Pinterest. Eliyah passed on a Saturday morning just shortly after returning to school from a 3 week holiday for Christmas break. I know the first Monday after his passing, was extremely hard for his friends, peers, and teachers. The school did a very special memorial over the PA system. He was the anchor and the face in the morning for GVTV. They too did a special announcement for their fallen friend. That was the first day of his empty chair. Each class he was in had an empty chair and a very real realization that he was gone….. An empty chair in Band, English, Math, History, Lunch, etc.
I also had empty chairs. I remember looking back in my driver’s seat in my van and seeing where he sat most of the time. I had to walk by my dining room every day and see the dining room chair that he would no longer sit in. The couch, his bedroom on his bed, my room, everywhere that I ever saw him sit would now be empty……It took a while to not see his face looking back at me while I stood in the kitchen and watched him eat. I remember funny times where he would eat the biggest bowl of cereal and I’d ask did he save some for the rest of us and we’d just laugh!!!
Eliyah was a Junior in High School. The first day of what would have been his Senior year, I was a wreck. My daughter was going to be a Junior now and my other daughter Second Grade. Once again faced with the agony of sadness for one and joy for the 2 others. It’s the craziest feeling. Smiling while crying. That year was the hardest for me. The place where he would’ve taken his back to school photo was empty…. All of his friends/peers were participating in Senior activities. Homecoming, Prom, and all else that comes along with it. I dropped off my oldest daughter at school one day and saw the seniors in cap and gowns outside prepping to take their senior photo… I lost it. I don’t even know how I drove home. My heart felt that missing piece!!!! I did not attend what would’ve been his high school graduation but many told me they honored him and gave a moment of silence. It was so difficult and sometimes heart wrenching to see birthday announcements, and graduation announcements from others. I know they didn’t send to be vindictive towards me but dang, didn’t they know how much I was hurting? The truth is no. They were doing what most do, go on with their lives. I told people that he had already experienced the greatest graduation that one day all of us living for Christ will. He is in Heaven and nothing would ever top that. That’s what my Spirit celebrated. That’s what my faith shouted to me. But my human, motherly side said this sucks…..
Many parents that are grieving are seeing the empty chair for the very first time.. This is the time of the year which we call back to school and many kids didn’t make it over the summer to enter this school year. If you know someone who has or is experiencing the empty chair give grace. A listening ear is encouraged. No one is looking for you to be the hero, just be present. It’s a challenge to see other kids grow, change, have new experiences, develop, while you will forever miss those milestones. Be gentle, and show kindness. To my fellow members of the club no one wants to be in, continue to celebrate the memories. Honor your child the best way you can. Acknowledge all of the beautiful moments you shared. Healing is taking place. Be kind to yourself. There is no timeline, no manual. Say your child’s name and express the love within!!!!! Amen!!!!!!
I have a hope….
I pray each day that your sorrows lighten. The Lord is your strength. I knew that when Eliyah passed there would be new journey ahead of us that we would have to endure. I didn’t want it nor did I ask for it but here it was. I could not change it… I couldn’t close my eyes, click my heels and wake up and he’d be back. I wanted to even bargain with God.. Change this outcome for my peace I cried out!! I wrestled with him, I told God that I thought you loved me…well this doesn’t feel like love… Love shouldn’t hurt I thought. You allowed me to be crushed and I don’t know if I can trust what you say!! I said all of this in my hurt. I will tell you that I was in awe that God gave me so much strength and compassion for others in the midst of those first few weeks. My faith in God, probably just a tiny bit bigger at the time than a mustard seed demanded that I have hope. It demanded that I not lean to what I understood because I didn’t know why. I didn’t have any answers. I knew that this, Eliyah’s absence felt unbearable. My spirit did what my flesh wanted to fight. I was able to smile because deep down I knew God did love me. I kept hearing it….Elizabeth, you’re so strong, you’re so composed, you’re so inspirational, you’re so this and that…..I “felt” like none of that. I was this woman/mother who felt like she has just been stepped on and was struggling to regain focus. I felt insane, helpless, invisible, and very other feeling inside. These were my feelings. I believed in the power of God. I knew that if I let go I would have crumbled. I thought that only the dark clouds of despair were visible. So, I kept my eyes on him. I kept focused on him. I clutched only to him. I only wanted to see his Glory because my heart, my spirit knew that it was the key to my survival. It was imperative so that I may endure. I was brought to the edge of hopelessness. I want to encourage you that God knows your struggle, and heartaches. There is no hole to deep that Gods love can’t reach. Endure, fight, and don’t lose hope!!!! Words alone can’t heal so I/we/ will go to the rock that’s higher than us!!! Amen!!!!
A Mother’s Love Never Dies
Good morning. A mother’s love never dies. There is a spiritual umbilical cord between a mother and a child that can never be broken as my friend Robin once told me. Some days my spirit can be so heavy. There are never any expectations when it comes to grief. No particular pattern. Even on days which seem to be ordinary days, meaning (no holiday’s or anniversaries) my hurt may heart. I remember walking into Target the first time after Eliyah passed. I felt like everyone in the store was staring at me. I wondered if they knew what has just happened in my life, but of course they didn’t. I realized after a while that I was going up and down each aisle not really looking for anything in particular. All I could see or think about were the memories of what he’d say to me when we walked in. ” You know where I’ll be ” Yep, I said, and he’d be headed to the electronic section of the store. But not anymore….. I found myself in the cereal section. I saw his favorite cereal, Honey bunches of Oats! I burst into tears. I stood there uncontrollably crying. I thought to myself I hope no one calls management on me. I’m not crazy, I’m sad. I will be o.k. but not today. I exited out of that section and realized everywhere I go because of my love for him this may happen. Reminders, smells, voices, even people who may look like him. You can’t turn back the hands of time, and each day requires that you move one step forward. One step at a time.. Sometimes, when grief has hit I take a step back. but that’s ok. God understands and it will not always feel like it does at that moment. My prayer for today is for God’s will to be done in my life, and in yours.
Celebrating holidays, birthdays..while grieving
The subject of grief to many can be so complex. As a mother whose child died it is an excruciating, painful experience. It is something that can’t be masked or sugarcoated. Eliyah was born on July 4th, 1996. What a fine day to enter the world!! Every year America celebrates this holiday with fun, food, and fireworks. Families plan getaways, vacations, and fantastic events. For me I celebrated Eliyah’s birth. It’s been 5 years since his passing. Every year I have done something different. The first year, which for many people is the hardest or most challenging, my husband Kevin and I went to the Ojai Valley Inn for alone time and relaxation. I remember my mother calling me a few times wanting us to celebrate with the family. I didn’t want to. I needed to be away, and I was not in any mood for fireworks, kids, and people I knew. And so, off to Ojai we went. I cried a lot. We enjoyed spa time, massages, and I even played my first round of golf. Although it was a beautiful place, and smelled of lavender I actually found it not that easy to relax. My heart hurt, and massages don’t fix that.
Eliyah passed away on Jan. 19 2013. Before his birthday, there was Valentine’s Day, Easter…. and Mother’s Day. I scrapbook which means I sort of keep everything lol. Thank God because I keep all the cards my kids have given or made for me. I went back and read through his Mother’s Day cards to me. I can’t even describe what that felt like. Joy, because I have them, and heartache because there would be no more. As, the year went on and we got closer to the Christmas holiday I cringed. I didn’t even put up any decor. No tree, wreath, lights, nothing. I had no energy mental or physical to do it. And you know what? It was ok. I had nothing to prove, and I needed to grieve how I needed to grieve.
So, what have I learned in remembering and celebrating the holidays? That no one can tell you how to process your loss. You can’t stop the day (birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Anniversaries, ) from coming. God meets us where we are at, not where we pretend to be, or would like to be. You can survive the Holidays while you are grieving. This year we celebrated the 4th of July at The Disney Resort. It was incredible. We celebrated Eliyah, and enjoyed ourselves.
You will face many emotions. You are not alone, Eventually you will heal. For me, it was do not live in others expectations for what I needed. Everyone grieves different and that’s ok. There is no handbook for grieving correctly. Honor your loved one how you see fit. Soon, the good days will outweigh the painfully acute days, and you will see evidence of the healing process.