Tuesday, July 18, 2017

To Thine Own Self Be True

I need to preface this post with a little info for those that may not know me well:

  • I am pretty self-aware. For example, I am not usually surprised by the results of annual reviews (though I still have anxiety issues going into them). 
  • I am an introvert. I often joke that I don't like people. The truth is I don't do well in large groups of people. It is draining to be in large groups. (I am fully aware -- see above -- there is another reason I don't do well with people, but I'll leave it at that for this blog.)
  • I am a processor. It takes time for me to think through possibilities and figure things out. Sometimes I wish I could just answer "off the cuff", but I know that my answer to a question or solution to a problem will be better if I have time to process. (This also plays into why I don't do well in large groups of people.)



The grief has been overwhelming at times.

I recognize that no two people will grieve the same way, I just wonder if what I'm experiencing is normal. In that vein, I sought out a bereavement group for parents who have lost children to cancer. My hope was that talking with people who have been through similar experiences would assure me that I'm okay. 

I attended one meeting in June and a second meeting last Wednesday. Unfortunately, I walked away from both of those meetings feeling pretty discouraged. Honestly, I have no idea why I thought a group like that would be helpful. 

The group consists of a large number of people that all need time to process and to talk. Besides introducing myself, there was no time for me to share as the facilitator spent the majority of the time checking in with other members of the group who have been there for years. Not that it matters much, since I am pretty quiet in group settings anyway. In addition to all that, the subject matter is tough and I need more time than usual to process and talk.

As soon as I got home from the bereavement group last week, I emailed a long-time psychologist friend to see if he had any time available to meet with me. He responded, "So let's get you in." 

The next day, I shared with our associate pastor that I didn't think the bereavement group was a good fit for me and that I emailed Dr. Chuck to meet with him. Daryl simply said that made more sense for me. The phrase from Shakespeare's Hamlet immediately came to mind: "To thine own self be true." I guess the whole self-aware thing got lost somewhere in the grief. 

I took this picture on my way home from counseling. It reminded me that,
yes, there is beauty in the rearview mirror, but the sun is shining ahead.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Birthday Wishes

As you may or may not know, KK would have turned 15 on July 28. To honor her, I have set up a Birthday Wishes Campaign in her memory.

Birthday Wishes is an organization that KK and I have enjoyed supporting over the years. I will be making cakes for two shelters celebrating multiple birthdays at the end of July. Would you consider giving a gift to Birthday Wishes in KK's memory so they can continue to throw birthday parties for kids living in homeless shelters in our area?

Here is the link to KK's Birthday Wishes Campaign. Please pass this along to those you think may be interested in honoring KK in this way as I don't know how many people still read this blog.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Loaded Questions

Shortly after KK died, I told Daryl, our associate pastor, that there are two questions people should not be allowed to ask someone who is grieving: "How are you?" and "What do you need?"

How are you?
I've always hated this question for two reasons:

  • We (I mean me) ask it so flippantly. One Sunday when I was in my early twenties, I remember my pastor asked me if I really wanted to know how he was when I asked him how he was. It really made me think.
  • We feel compelled to ask "How are you?" in return. Over the years, I have caught myself replying "I'm well. How are you?" then walking off without waiting for the other person's answer. Obviously, I didn't want to know how they were...and that is so not okay.

Right now, I don't know how to answer people when they ask me how I am. When I'm asked in real life or on the phone, I almost always tear up and have a hard time speaking. When I'm asked via text, I tear up and put the phone down. Most times I don't have the energy to "go there". Sometimes I wonder if the person really wants to know or if he/she just wants me to say that I'm doing well. If you really want to know, be forewarned that the answer may be messy. I have my good days and my bad days...or, more accurately, I have my good moments and my bad moments within each day.

What do you need?
Oh, man...I really don't know how to answer this question. The only thing that I need is my girl back. Other than that, I often have no idea what I need or what you can do to help. And when I do know, I don't want to impose upon you. You have a life. You have a family. You don't need me to add to your plate.

So, what's a person to say or do?
Rather than asking these questions, I would suggest the following:

  • Let the person grieving know that you are praying for them and thinking about them. 
  • Make it known that you don't expect a reply or a call or a thank you.
  • Don't put the responsibility on the grieving person to contact you. 
  • Try to think of what the other person wants, not what you would want (i.e. you may want a hug, but hugs may be overwhelming to others me).
  • Offer to do something specific (go out to eat, make a meal, etc.), but be okay with a "No, thank you" or a last-minute cancellation (the person may be doing well when making plans on Monday, but who knows what Tuesday will bring...grieving is exhausting).  
  • If you really want to know how the person is doing, ask specific questions and be prepared to listen. Even then, consider the setting before you ask. The answer could be messy and the grieving person may not want to fall apart in front of a room full of people.
  • Finally, don't text or call early in the morning or late at night even if you know the person is a morning person or night owl. I'll say it again, grieving is exhausting. Sleep is a precious thing and sometimes it doesn't come easily.
I feel the need to mention a couple more things:

  • It is okay to talk about your life. My loss and grief do not minimize what you are going through. I need to get out of my own head and think about others.
  • It is okay to talk about KK...just remember to consider the setting and be okay with a "not right now" kind of response. I love her and miss her terribly. I want to know that she had an impact on your life, that you think about her, and that you miss her too.

Monday, June 26, 2017

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed

I first listened to this two weeks ago and needed to hear it again today...

I Need to Write

I've had a desire to blog over the last month -- to share the events of KK's last four weeks, to recap her celebration of life for those that weren't able to make it, to share about HCA's eighth grade graduation and other events that have happened -- but I haven't been able to find the words.

Today, I find myself needing to write. I need to write about none of the above. I need to write to get out of my head. I need to write because I am overwhelmed. I need to write, so here I go...

The week after KK died (oh, how it hurts to write that) and before the celebration of her life, I stopped by the office and talked to Boss. He laid out his plan for me in terms of work with the caveat that I could override his plans. His thought was that I would take the month of June off, come back part-time in July and August, then full-time in the fall. I immediately knew that I would not be able to take the month of June off. First of all, I love my job. But I also knew that I didn't want to sit home alone for a month...alone being the keyword. I told him that I was planning to work the following week, but I wasn't sure what that would look like. He was very understanding and willing to give me the flexibility that I needed.

I wasn't very productive the first week, but it felt good to be in the office. The next two weeks, I really threw myself into work. I spent time working on details that I have had to let slide over the last couple years, because I simply didn't have the time with all of KK's treatments. I loved the feeling of accomplishment! However, I was completely exhausted by the end of last week. I was really looking forward to relaxing on Saturday...the introvert in me needed the downtime. What I wasn't expecting was how overwhelming the loneliness would be by Saturday evening.

I don't know how to do this.

Please note that I am not writing this to garner invitations to do things (remember I am an introvert and that can be overwhelming as well) or to make anyone feel bad...I just needed to write.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Directions (Otherwise Entitled Don't Trust Your GPS)

There has been new construction around route 9 that has caused many people angst who follow their GPS to get to Chapel.

Here are the directions I can confidently give without driving down to the church and figuring out the new directions in person because even MapQuest hasn't been updated:

If you are coming from either direction on 495, take route 9 WEST, take the Computer Dr./Research Dr. ramp, turn left at the lights onto Computer Drive which becomes Connector Road which becomes Flanders Road, drive for about 2 miles and Chapel will be on the left (don't turn too soon though or you will be on Washington Street).

Monday, May 29, 2017

Obituary

Here is the link to KK's obituary (turn on the volume). It will be published in the Worcester Telegram on Wednesday.

Writing an obituary is stinking hard and no parent should ever have to do it.

They are working on removing the "send sympathy flowers" link since flowers are something that will die on me as well. If you try to send flowers through the link, the funeral home will cancel the order and refund your money for me. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Holden Christian Academy's Scholarship Fund to honor KK's life. Donations may be sent to Holden Christian Academy, 279 Reservoir Street, Holden, MA  01520 (please note Scholarship Fund in the memo line).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Patriots and Princess Celebration of Life

All who knew and loved KK are invited to celebrate her life on Friday, June 2 from 6-8pm at Chapel of the Cross, 160 Flanders Road, Westborough.

We will celebrate with a Patriots and Princess Party. She loved the Patriots (she always said I taught her well) and all things Disney (how could she not with me as a mom), especially Cinderella. No black clothing allowed with the exception of a few rogue football fans (who obviously weren't taught well). There will be plenty of KK's favorite foods that she gave up so willingly to fight cancer to munch on.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I Love You, Sweet Girl

I miss hearing those sweet words, "I love you, Mommy". I hope you can hear her through the background noise.
video

Full Circle

When I brought KK home, our Chapel family had a "Patriots and Princess Shower" for us. We will bring her life with me full circle by celebrating her life with a "Patriots and Princess Party" on Friday, June 2.

I will post more details later.

Until then, here is a link to the blog post when I first met my precious girl.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Yes, Ma'am

God said "Yes, Ma'am" and welcomed KK into heaven at 5:47pm this evening.

8 years is not long enough, but I am so honored to have been her "mommy" for every one of those years.

There are so many stories to tell, but I don't have the words right now...

Monday, May 1, 2017

Progression

The MR vent check showed the tumor has grown on the right side and there is lots of swelling. They are admitting her and putting her on iv steroids and making her comfortable. Please pray that she won't suffer.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Heading to Children's

We are heading to Children's for an emergency MRI. Prayers appreciated.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Prayer

I was on social media tonight and one of our favorite singers posted this Scripture and read it as a prayer over her social media "friends". I have prayed this Scripture for others in the past, but it was the first time I heard it as a prayer for me. Oh, how it refreshed my soul...

We always pray that God will show you everything he wants you to do and that you may have all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives. Then you will live a life that honors the Lord, and you will always please him by doing good deeds. You will come to know God even better. His glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything, and you will be truly happy.  
I pray that you will be grateful to God for letting you have part in what he has promised his people in the kingdom of light. God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who forgives our sins and sets us free.
~ Colossians 1:9b-14 (CEV)