HOLIDAYS AND SEASONS

June 7, 2017

 

EXCERPTS FROM THE EDITOR’S MESSAGE
BREVARD TCF NEWSLETTERS
HOLIDAYS AND SEASONS
2014
BY
VICKIE VAN ANTWERP

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is coming soon and we will honor those lost in the many wars our nation has fought. If you grew up during the Vietnam War you may know someone that fell during that long war. In order not to forget, small towns all over the country will conduct parades and services for our fallen heroes.

In our world, as bereaved parents, Memorial Day does not come once a year but every day as we remember and honor our children. Our services may be of the heart but they are just as real and important to us as any large scale celebration could ever be.

As the years pass our daily services might change, but they remain grounded in the love we have for our sons and daughters. They remain a “parent’s tribute” to the one that could light up our life with joy and make us smile in the darkest times.

We celebrate their lives every time we mention their name, help another in honor of them, light a candle to show their light still shines, arrange their picture on the wall or hold something dear that was dear to them, close to our heart.

We will always try to keep our child’s memory alive. It is a vital part of our grief journey. It satisfies that innate need to finish out the life our child never got to live.

 

Independence Day

Another holiday is approaching and for a grieving parent it is usually full of dread. July 4th is full of family activities and you might find yourself wanting to go and hide somewhere until it is over. It is supposed to be a celebration of freedom, but you might not feel very free from your grief.

Like most holidays the anticipation is usually worse than the day itself. The thought of facing another holiday without your child is just too heavy a burden to carry. Something you need to know is; you don’t have to celebrate the holiday if you don’t want to. You don’t have to make preparations, get together with family and friends and force yourself to join in the festivities. If you do not feel up to a big celebration than do something else. Yes, do something totally different, but do not stay home alone.

Go on a day trip that will be full of sights and sounds. Hit ever ice cream parlor between here and Hickory or if your passion is chocolate make it candy stores and indulge. Go hiking, horse-back riding, or visit a zoo. Take in movies all-day-long.

You decide what will bring you some pleasure and don’t let guilt creep in and steal it away. You need to take care of yourself and finding a diversion from your grief for one day, can be a good thing. Go, enjoy the 4th of July.

 

New Season

Another season is approaching which has proven to be another grief trigger for most. It is a sign of moving forward into another season that is full of clean fresh scents and sights sparked by the beauty of nature. It is also a reminder that we move into a new season without our child, and we may wonder if it will ever be different. Will we ever heal from trauma that left us shattered and torn?

We are told by the experts and those who have never experienced our loss that time will heal our pain. They fail to mention that the memoires we carry with us will always bring our grief to the surface. That is why the things we call triggers; birthdays, death dates, holidays, special vacations, graduations, etc. take us back to when our child lived, reminding us that they are not here.

So how can time heal when our memories will forever follow us into the future? We will always see our child yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I came across an article online that seems to open the door to the acceptance that time is not a healer, it helps us to grieve our way, in our time and unapologetic. Here is a sample:

“To say that time does not heal allows a person to reconcile herself to the longevity of the grieving process. It relieves her from the burden of having to observe any arbitrary deadlines for the aching.”   Impatient With Grief, Today’s Christian Woman by Jean Polluck Michel.

 

 Thanksgiving

“May your today be better than your yesterday.” That quote could have been written by a bereaved parent. We often wonder if our tomorrow will ever be better than today.

Thanksgiving is less then a month away and for some, it will be one of those “firsts”. For those who are new to this grief journey, know that the anticipation is worse than the actual holiday.

Some of us are not feeling very thankful for anything, the pain is too harsh, too disabling, too distracting from anything good.

If we look deep enough in our hearts we can draw out the memories that our child left behind and find that we are thankful for something. We find good wholesome memories tucked away that cause our hearts to swell with love and admiration for our child. I guess we do have something to be thankful for. Our child lived and that brought endless memories because as long as we live-they live.

Share your Thanksgiving with someone if you can and you will find a blessing in giving that will soften your sorrow.


My Dragon Slayer

July 2, 2014

Will you be my dragon slayer Lord
Take this grief and make it a servant instead
Cause my heart to lean on you and not be afraid
Carry my spirit above the clouds with you
And never let me doubt your loving arms around me

You can be my dragon slayer Lord
Keeping the grief in a place where it belongs
Never forgetting where it is, but at your side
I can stand in the face of the dragon
And know that my Lord goes before me

You are my dragon slayer Lord
Cradling me in your arms of comfort and mercy
Lifting me up from the ground and placing me by your side
Where I find peace and warmth in your light
You are my dragon slayer Lord

(c) March 2012 Vickie Van Antwerp


Forgotten Pain

February 13, 2012

A prose for the bereaved mother.

 

Remember childbirth? The sheer pain and agony of bringing another human being into this world can only be described as anguish. It gave new meaning to the word , “pain”.

Soon after you looked upon your child; your gorgeous little cherub, and all the pain, all the travailing was gone with one glance. The pain was forgotten.

A day came and a new pain emerged, but this pain was in your heart. It came so fiercely, so violent, that it took your breath away. Anguish, I think they call it. A bereaved parent knows it as the worse pain you can ever imagine. This one gives new meaning to the word, “pain”, for sure.

In the depths of your anguish you can rest assured because just as your birth pains are forgotten, so will this pain be forgotten in the blink of an eye, when you see your child once again.
(C) 2012 Vickie Van Antwerp
 


It’s like it just happened yesterday.

February 8, 2012

I remember when my cousin suddenly lost her son. She lived over 400 miles away and I did not know her very well. She was 18 years my elder and I had not seen her in at least 15 years. My mother called to tell me the news. She said, “Margie has lost Danny. He died in his sleep.” Danny was not much younger than me. Being a mother I could only imagine what my cousin was going through. I felt so helpless but I wanted to help in some way. I sent her a book on grief and a card with my condolences. From that day I felt a special bond. I spoke to her occasionally on the phone. I did not bring up the subject of Danny because I did not want to upset her. We just talked about small things.

Many years later, Margie lost another son, this time to cancer. She had three boys, two were now gone. We spoke more often this time. Before she lost her second son Glen, I asked her how she coped with the loss of Danny. Little did we know at the time she would relive the nightmare again. She said to me, “Its like is just happened yesterday.” Her sorrow was fresh every day. It did not loose its grip.

A few months after Glen died, I told her I was attending a candle lighting service and that I would light a candle in memory of Danny and Glen. She was pleased.

The night of the service I spoke with a man from the church my husband and I attended. He had lost his daughter 20 years before. He was there to light a candle for her. He said, “It’s like it just happened yesterday.”  Twenty years and his sorrow was still present. He told me that his daughter’s room remained the same as she left it. To a person that has not lost a child, it would appear that he was stuck in grief out of choice. For parents that have experienced the same loss, it is a story of love and honor.

 

I stood beside my husband on a December night and we lit three candles, one for Danny, one for Glen and one for our son Craig. It was no wonder to me now why I felt a bond with my cousin. Maybe my spirit knew then what was to come, maybe not. Craig was found in his apartment by a close friend. He had been there for days. He was 33 years old and his father and I were over 600 miles away. The nightmare began in 2006 and it has not ended.

I was on the other side at one time, trying to comfort my cousin, not knowing what to say. I know now, and wish I didn’t. I did not want to join this group of people that have to learn how to live without their child. I found that it is not about moving on with your life. It is not about leaving things behind. It is not about letting go. When you loose a child, those things don’t happen. Grieving a child leaves you empty.  There are no words, there are no poems, no songs, and no books that will make you feel better. The pain is so intense that you think it will kill you.

I have moments when I can see my child so clear in my head. I can touch him and kiss him and talk to him. Maybe someday, those moments will not hurt like they do now but for now, when they come, every time they come, it’s like it just happened yesterday.

(c) 2012 Vickie VanAntwerp


Lord–please send knee pads.

September 23, 2011

My mother-in-law was a true intercessor. It was not unusual to find her on her knees any time of the day. What she did not say on her knees, she said in her journals and in the margins of her bible. She had six children, all with different personalities, ages spreading out over 20 years. If the oldest wasn’t having problems you can bet there was at least one or two that were. Her goal as a mother was to see all of her children living a Christian life and that kept her on her knees. When my children were little their problems were smaller. I was very fortunate not to have any pressing health problems to deal with or disabilities. My two sons were healthy from the day they were born. As they grew, the challenges grew. The teen years brought conflict, temptation, and heavy metal music. The vigils of prayers began and I joined the ranks of many mothers before me, on their knees for their children. No longer was my prayer, “Oh Lord, keep my sons healthy and strong.” They became more direct, more precise. Thrown to the floor in a heaping mess of parental slobbering before the throne I would cry out. Ugh, the knees have become worn and calloused. Continuing to pray, every day, every night must certainly be a sign of belief or perseverance, you would think. For me, there is no where else to turn. If the power of prayer means nothing, then my life means nothing because it has been sewn into the fabric of my being.. Like most mothers I want life to run smoothly. Ok, maybe I will accept a jolt here or there but nothing too bad. I don’t want to deal with things that are too bad to handle and have to suffer like some people do. After all, I am a Christian and there should be some reward to that. My life should be covered enough in the Father’s love that it protects me from all the bad things I have prayed against. There are some that know that is not true. There are some that have suffered tremendous losses, over and over again. What do we say to that? Do we come up with some old response that leaves a person’s spirit on the floor like, “You do not have enough faith, or you have a sin that you must get rid of.” Bad things happen to Christians. It is the way things are. Evil strikes a family that is dedicated to the Lord, it scars a young man who just got baptized, and it destroys entire families in one sweep. It is not because they did something wrong. The Lord said that He can take the good out of any situation for those that love Him. (Romans 8:28) That is a hard thing to wait on when you are in so much pain. It is so hard to see when your tears cloud your vision. It is hard to have faith in when your prayers did not seem to act in your behalf. Yet, we continue to pray, we don’t give up because we know that God is still there and for some reason that maybe only He knows why, things happen, and we are left with just trusting Him. Our knees become callous, our hearts become heavy, but we still pray. It is our connection to the living God- it is our pipeline to life. Our joys, outweighed at times by tragedy can find us kneeling before the throne and pouring out our hearts. We can carry our burdens before us and leave them at His feet. The bible tells us to pray without ceasing and that the fervent prayer of a wise man avails much. (James 5:16) Prayer is powerful and though it may not always work out the way we want it to, or things happen that crush our spirit, the day comes when we see more clearly, and we hear His voice and feel His touch. We can no more give up prayer than the air we breathe. We are Christians and called by His name.

(C) 2013 Vickie VanAntwerp