Feel, deal, heal

As I was writing this, I realized that this week is the week between International Bereaved Mother’s Day (IBMD) and Mother’s Day.  IBMD honors mothers who have lost a child or women who cannot be a mother for various reasons

I find myself with one foot on either side of this holiday, as I have lost a daughter and I have a daughter that remains by my physical side.  It can be a challenging place. If we are not careful as mother’s, we can get lost in the grief of the loss of one, only to sacrifice the living.

As most of you are aware, tragically I lost my daughter to a drunk driver on Christmas Eve 2016.  Today I am in my 5 month of my 6th year learning how to navigate life on this plane without her walking by my side.  While the days seem easier to navigate, it took me a very long time to come to peace with feeling that way, AND THEN to be comfortable admitting it, AND THEN to own it by saying it aloud.  This does not in any way mean I miss her any less, or I don’t think of her, because she is and will forever be in my every thought and action.  I feel this way because of all the work that I do regarding my experience. I am able to move forward in my life with joy again.  This has not been an easy journey, but one necessary for many reasons.  First, it is absolutely what I know she would want for me. Second, I truly cannot imagine simply surviving for the remainder of my days.

In my book,“The Voice of an Angel”, Chapter 8, I write about the 6 A’s; acknowledgement, allowing, absorption, acceptance, adjustment and adapting. These require feeling and dealing, in each and every step. Some of us get so caught up with the day to day and we lose focus of what’s important, or worse, completely fill our days so we don’t have the time to acknowledge and feel. This happens because sometimes, feeling means pain, distress, reality checks and on occasion, owning up to something. Owning up for me in this moment…being in my 6th year without Syd, I still am not able to look at her picture. It kills me.  I go to all the “what could have been’s” and it breaks my heart all over again, with every glance.  So, this being month 5 of year 6, I am pushing myself and now have a beautiful image of her as my wallpaper on my phone.  Gut wrenching, truly.  But what I am realizing is that I am looking at her quickly, but I do not look into her eyes.  Not yet.  It’s about stepping-stones. So…my baby step is I can now look at her but not look into her eyes. If you knew her eyes and all they said…you might better understand!  I am feeling the pain that I have when I deal with the emotions that stop me from continuing to live as my best newest self.  Sometimes it requires a push or a brave jump into something that makes us uncomfortable or brings us back to that horrible feeling of “if I do this, will it mean I am forgetting her or I’m okay with her being gone?”  This is the ego toying with you, keeping you from what you want and from what your lost loved one wants for you. Sydney wants me to be all I can be, to take what I learn have learned and share it with anyone that has lost someone so dear that they will spend the rest of their days in “feel, deal, heal” but to do this with grace and patience for themselves.  It’s not okay to accept that you may never be whole again, you will be.  Whole now has a new definition for those of us that lost a child or a loved one.  Whole is creating a bridge over and around the black hole in our souls (google Niagara Falls and look at the glass bridge.  That’s the visual I am asking you to have for the next leg of the journey).  The bridge, is acceptance of our path and finding new ways to love, live and prosper.  It’s acceptance that our child is watching over us with complete and unconditional love for us and all those that have wronged them.  We can channel that positive, healing energy into our lives and love ourselves with complete trust that what lies ahead is everything they would want for us and more   We have Angels that most do not, which means a hand in heaven guiding and protecting us.  I get a complete sense of peace knowing and feeling this.  I will admit, I felt this from the very beginning but for some it may be something that needs to find its way to your heart.  That can only happen by feeling everything, dealing with it as it arises and not pushing it down, or filling your schedule so you don’t have time to think and address “IT”.  This will allow you so you can heal for to the next layer of this journey.

Without truly feeling, dealing, and healing, over time your closest relationships can suffer.  These are the people that stayed with you.  They loved you and probably mistaked their way through each day with you, sometimes not really knowing what to do during the journey of supporting you through something they realize they can never truly understand the depths of your pain. Yet they love you so deeply they stayed.  They endured the feeling of helplessness, and you probably don’t recall all of them from the numbness, but they do. They remember the funeral and every detail and individual that attended.  They recall the harsh tones you expressed when you were at rock bottom. They also do not hold any of it against you for their love is unconditional. How do I know this you ask? Because they stayed…We sometimes are so into our own journey and pain they we don’t consider what those around us are feeling and experiencing. Take a moment, hug that person, thank them for all their patience and love. Ask them how they are feeling because they too are experiencing loss.  Ask them to help you if you are struggling, because while the years pass, you never truly disembark from the grief bus and you need these souls in your journey.  You just learn to navigate and build your (healthy) bridges.  Communication is still the number one way to work through every single stage of grief. That loving soul that stays by your side cannot read your mind. And sometimes, even you aren’t 100% sure what is happening inside your head and heart. Talking brings clarity. Please never assume they know what you want or even how you want it. Communicate. They made it this far on this journey with you, broaden their scope by sharing what you need now, because I guarantee it is very different from what you needed in the beginning of the grief journey. Love needs to be nurtured and that’s two sided. If your love language,before losing your child, was physical touch and now you really aren’t feeling so much like physical touch, talk about it.  In communicating how you are feeling, you might uncover why that is happening. Perhaps you feel guilty because your sweet baby isn’t able to feel that again, so you feel bad.  Perfectly normal but it can’t be your final go to. By communicatingyou also will be putting their mind at ease because they might be feeling that you no longer desire them. It needs to be dealt with. Feel, deal, heal.

Deal…does not mean, okay I am good to go and back too normal. Deal means making peace with what you were and are feeling.  Bringing it to the surface and addressing it so it does not wreak your life. Sounds dramatic but that is a very real possibility if it’s not addressed! Not dealing can take you down an ugly and lonely path. I am 100% positive that this is not what your child had in mind for you. In fact, if you allow the stillness to engulf you from time to time, you will feel them and their guidance. They are with you in spirit and are paving the way for feeling, dealing and healing. So, if you’re busy, busy, busy…STOP! Ask yourself, why?  What am I afraid to admit or realize? THEN…the best question you can ever ask yourself…”What is the worst that can happen?”  Seriously?  We all know that if you lost a child, you have already experienced the worst thing that can ever happen so now it’s practically a walk in the park. (I am making light to make a point.)

Deal…we moved an hour and a half away from where we lived since losing Syd.  We often go back that way for family and the drive has not been enjoyable for me, or my husband. I never made an excellent passenger, but it was an easy fix, I simply always drove.  Control freak, maybe. But up until my husband became the designated driver, me driving was my way of dealing. So, now being a constant passenger, I have not been a happy camper and it is not a conscious thing. I don’t sit there saying to myself, I don’t want to be here. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I remind myself what an excellent driver he is and that he has never been in an accident. Yet still I white knuckle it and am a ball of nerves exhausted by the time we get to our destination. Not fun for anyone. After losing Syd to a drunk driver, you can imagine that did not help my need to be the one behind the wheel. It was ugly and I was embarrassed by my behavior yet felt like I was watching myself as it happened because none of it was my conscious self.  It truly was from within and deep.  I have asked myself many, many times, “what’s the worst thing” and this last time I was able to finally identify “IT”!  Now, mind you this has come from many conversations with my husband and getting to the heart of it all.  “IT” for me is not dying in a car accident but rather being maimed and unable to function as I do. To lose any of my faculties, my freedom…that would be worse than dying for me.  FINALLY!  With this realization, we put a plan in place and this past weekend, I took a nap in the passenger seat for almost the entire 1 ½ hour ride.  Miracle of miracles!!  I share this because doing the work of “feel, heal, deal” really does provide peace of mind without even realizing it, and brings that’s peace for all involved. Remember too, that there is divine timing. You can do the work and then all the sudden it pays off, and you experience an ah-ha or relief of some kind and that is a beautiful feeling.

If you are an altruistic person, do some of your feeling and dealing for the person that stayed, so they can continue to stay, and you can continue to grow together. Then in time you see and feel the peace it provides.  Keep the motivation alive to continue to feel, deal, heal.

Heal…this is something everyone around you is doing. We all have our lessons, and we all need to heal. It’s not okay for anyone to run from their stuff, yet many do. The expression, “the hard thing to do is usually the right thing” is spot on.  To me, that translates to surviving vs. thriving.  I have no interest in surviving and most likely if you are reading this, neither do you 😊. Trust me when I say, you will see rainbows and unicorns over time if you dive into “feel, deal, heal”.

Life with an Angel watching over you can be filled with guiltless joy…strive for it by “feeling, dealing and healing” and pay it forward, teach those around you.  First by living by example, then guide those that inquire.  Spread the love my friends, spread the love.