I don't know how people do this, live life after losing their child, yet here we are day by day, sometimes minute by minute surviving. My husband Antonio and I go out into the world and try to act like everything is okay. People ask how we are, we usually answer "Ok...fine, we're ok" but if these walls could talk.... They would tell stories or thousands of tears cried, pleas to God to bring our son back, talks of memories and heartbreak....
This is our new "normal." As time goes on we end up crying more privately, the shower because a safe place to shed tears without upsetting anyone else. We try to think of happier times and keep going, we try to make a happy life for our 17 year old daughter at home.
We have heard that marriages often break up when a child passes away...but for us it has brought us closer in some ways. We both have been through the same trauma and can understand where the other one is coming from. He has been my rock, and I hope I have been his soft place to land during some of his tough times. I try to be. Sometimes I am angry and grouchy and I snap at him, or our daughter and I try to always apologize and make it clear that I am not angry at them but at the situation we are going through. Keeping communication open in our home has been really important. I want everyone to feel it's safe to talk about whatever they need to discuss. I never would have made it through this 5 months without my husband there...
I had originally had all these ideas of starting a non profit and making a difference in other's lives who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts or the loss of a loved one to suicide. I had to realize that I need to work through my own grief and take time to myself before really being valuable to others. Funny someone told me that at the beginning and I didn't understand it why that was... As the shock wore off and the reality set in I realized this is going to be a journey and not a race to be okay. I do try to reach out to other moms who have lost a child, I am open to talking to people who are hurting, Zuka's friends and loved ones can reach me on social media or at Zukaslegacy@gmail.com. I do have big goals and big plans but they are going to take awhile, I am okay with that.
I haven't gone back to work yet. I want to finish my degree and work while I am going to school, it's hard to get things done when nothing is really regulated. Emotions all over the place, sleepless nights, anxiety and haunting memories. I am working through it.... the Family is working on their own grief in their own ways.
We are surviving, I don't know how, but one foot in front of the other we are making a life of our new normal... sending lots of love and compassion to those who are hurting~~
Thursday, December 27, 2018
I dreamed of you last night, except it wasn't you at all. I was losing my mind and when I looked around I kept seeing you. I ran up and hugged you and your sister would grab my arm, "What are you doing Mom? That's not him" and she would take a picture and show me that the person I was hugging wasn't really you and I would be so disappointed.... no, more like shattered. I refused to believe I was losing my mind and I kept running up and hugging you tight and then again having to let you go because it wasn't you... over and over again... torture
I woke up....so empty I didn't have tears to cry...I just laid there.... Again reminding myself you are gone. I hate having to remind myself...
My dreams.... my dreams aren't something I can control. I try to keep my grief under control during the day, I try not to think too much, try not to linger too long on your pictures hanging on the wall. I try to keep it all neatly folded inside...
but at night, my mind, my heart, my grief runs wild. I spend time with a 3 year old Zuka teaching him to read... I walk down icy Maine streets at night and see you happily playing in a distance where I can't reach you. I see you as a baby I am holding tight, I see you in a crowd on a boat and I make contact long enough just to hug you before you disappear again... and some nights you're standing in the hallway, 18 years old and calling out to me "Mom....Mom" and I can't wake fully to get to you...to help you...to save you...
I'm hanging in here....but These dreams.... these dreams....they haunt me....
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
It’s a weird feeling being happy and sad at the same time.
It’s not until now that I discovered this feeling. My first Christmas without you Zuka.
I put your favorite candy, Dove Chocolate in your stocking, I couldn’t help it....
Felt bad that I never got your dove the last holiday before you passed.
Your funny elf slippers were in the living room in front of the tree, your stocking hanging near your urn. There were pictures of my chubby cheeked little boy by the Christmas tree,
one with your sister and another with a Santa hat on and a huge smile. Happy and Sad. Happy Memories, and Missing you terribly.
I wanted to buy you presents, I had the urge to get you something, anything….
but instead I asked Santa for a cabinet to keep some of your memories in… It’s in the corner of the room, lit up beautifully. Pictures of you and your grandfather at your graduation, the family at graduation, your first picture, your last picture, a wrestling medal, your diploma, the shells from where we let some of your ashes go on the beach for your 19th birthday, a lovely candle Gloria made for us, a box of memories your loved ones wrote…. Beautiful… and Tragic.
The tree with sparkling lights, your first Christmas decorations, your first Christmas in Heaven decoration.Picture ornaments with you and your sister growing up, ornaments you both made through the years. Touching and heartbreaking…
My day was family, Your Dad and sister spoiled me with presents, presents from Grammy and Grandpa,a call from them Christmas morning...us opening presents….missing your presence…
Dinner with the family, smiles and Christmas wishes, jokes and funny memories, hugging little ones….then walking away to wipe the tears….remembering my little boy….
Coming home, quiet family time, looking at all my gifts, feeling loved, happy and content,
feeling lonely empty and lost. Confused.
I made it through Christmas my dear son, All the broken pieces of my heart still beating, still loving…
Still comforted and haunted by your memories….
I love you. I miss you to my core.
Always ~ Mom
Sunday, December 23, 2018
This is Zuka's First Christmas in heaven and it has been the most difficult holiday season I have ever had. It's supposed to be a time for celebration, it's heartbreaking to celebrate and mourn at the same time.
The feelings of loss and grief have been the deepest these last few weeks. I think it's settled in that he is not coming home and not having him here for the holidays physically hurts. When I think about him my throat feels like it's closing and my chest feels so heavy.
I have my 17 year old daughter at home, it's her senior year of High School and I want to make sure that she has a wonderful Christmas... I am shopping for her gifts and I keep seeing things I want to buy for Zuka. It's like my mind forgets momentarily that he is gone. That's the worst feeling, reminding myself he is gone and not coming back. Milah found a superhero subscription box she thought her brother would love and had to do the same. My heart breaks for her, My husband, My family and Zuka's close friends... it's so hard losing him... it's so hard celebrating anything now that he is gone.
The tears come more often now, I still cry daily but now it's several times a day. Decorating the tree was so hard, decorations from his first Christmas, decorations he made in school, decorations that mark different periods of his life. I bought the decoration above for his first Christmas in Heaven.
The one thing I asked for was a tall thing curio cabinet with a light to keep Zuka's little memory items in. My husband gave it to me early because it was too hard to keep hidden. I spent that night in tears picking the right things to put in my cabinet... I love it. It feels like such a beautiful way to honor him and keep him close to us,
I heard that the holidays are hard after losing a loved one....but I never imagined how hard it would be this first Christmas after losing my son. I miss Zuka so much. The fact that my family is in Maine and I am in Florida makes it even more heartbreaking. I miss my family every year....and now missing my son and my family... It's really hard to celebrate.
I am very fortunate to have my husband and my beautiful daughter who are very loving and supportive, and I am thankful for all the memories I have with Zuka. It's worth all the pain and suffering to have had the time I did have with him. I love and miss him so much.... I feel it in my soul...
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and for those grieving and hurting I'm sending you so much love and (((hugs)))
Take care of you. be gentle with yourself.
Supporting a Loved One:
1. Acknowledge that this is a very hard time of year and acknowledge their pain.
2. Be supportive and understanding if they do not want to participate in holiday events or they need to take things slow.
3. It's okay to talk about the loved one that has passed on and use the loved ones name.
4. Just be there to listen and let them know they can come to you. Don't feel like you have to fix anything or have the right words, Being there are listening is definitely the best.
For the Griever:
The Holidays can be a very difficult time for those dealing with grief. There is so much pressure to be happy and engage in celebration. Holidays are about family and when a member of the family has passed away there is a big hole left where they once were. There are so many memories of past holidays, for myself unpacking decorations my from my sons first Christmas and the decorations he made in school was very difficult. This will be our first Christmas without our son, it has been incredibly difficult. It has been four months since he passed away and the closer it get's to Christmas the more difficult it becomes for me.
I feel like the most important thing is to feel what you are feeling and not judge that. If you feel you cannot celebrate at all, don't. If you have other children (like I do) and you feel like you want to still celebrate Christmas (or whatever Holiday you celebrate) you can take it at your own pace. If you need to step away to breathe or cry, that's completely okay. Don't judge yourself.
Be gentle with yourself.
I have seen ideas of starting a new tradition such as writing letters to your loved one or something else you feel honors their memory.
If you need support there are many facebook groups for people who are grieving, or if you need immediate help you can always call the national suicide helpline at 1-800-273-8255.
Great big (((((HUGS))))) from me!!