“Grief; Get over it and Move on…”

Grief; get over it and move on…” This statement, sometimes accompanied by the coy-inpatient look, even without speaking the exact words, is both feared and despised by those of us who have lost a son or a daughter to a substance, overdose death.
You don’t know, until you know.  So don’t presume to know when someone should get over their grief and move on.
The fact that this mom is even out of bed and moving at all, is an accomplishment on some days…
…because GRIEF, never goes away.
This is my battle with grief; this is about my son.

I am in the egg that sizzles in the pan with a pop and a splat;
I am among the crumbs left strewn across the counter with drips of hot butter trailing off the counter.
When the moon is heavily misted, on a cool night, I am there in the exhaled puff of your breath,
And in the rise of tiny goosebumps.

I roll in your mind like the ocean tide that breaks on the pebbled beach,
tossed over and over and over.
As the farm supply truck passes by,
And the bearded friends walk past, I am there too.

I am in the lulls and quiet places; Always in the holding bear hugs.
In the chuckles and giggles…
In the cannonball jumps…
In the flipping of the anticipated burgers, and the crackles of the bonfire, I am present.

Body, mind, and heart remember me.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Another day,
each day,
today;
I am always as close as the warm, sweet, milk breath of an infant sleeping on a momma’s bare breast.

As the shades of night are pulled,
And when the dawn awakens with the song of the mockingbird,
I settle in upon e v e r y t h i n g.
In the trash piled by the backdoor,
In the gritty grind of the stones underfoot,
and in each clomping step up the bare wood stairs.

The measure of love is immeasurable,
unable to be weighed and counted because I am always pressing.
Grief matches the love.
I am in it all.
Especially when the refrigerator door is left open.

So, you see…
There’s no getting over my grief because memories are everywhere.

Move on? I do.

Every day I get out of bed and do life as it unrolls before me and I live; I live with the grief undergirding my experience of everything in my path, it has become part of my DNA. My way of living is forever changed and I may walk slower than before, I may forget the to-do’s and ignore the insignificant, I may choose a different path than everyone is expecting. Fact.

No. Grief never goes away. Even when I smile, or laugh, and look as if all is well, know…that at any moment, a lump is in my throat, a tear is trickling, or a good cry is on it’s way.

If you know someone like me, be patient, be understanding, and be ever so tender. Treat others the way you would want to be treated if the tables were turned. Just do me a favor, do not tell your grieving family member or friend to, “Get over it and move on…

When the Person in Recovery is the Frog in the Pot

One year ago today, my son, Caleb realized he was the frog in the pot.

Apparently, if you put a frog in a pot of cool water, and set it on the stove and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will not try to jump out, it does not realize he is in danger, until the water is nearly boiling, then it’s too late, the frog is boiled to death and can’t jump to freedom.

One year ago today, after a time of contemplation at his accident site, my son, Caleb, realized he was in trouble; he felt the heat of the flame under the pot increasing; He had relapsed after five months of clean time. What began as medicinal use of weed during his last month of recovery, under the guise of keeping him from using his previous drugs of choice, in reality, led him directly back to old friends and old ways — and he knew it.

He knew he was in trouble; he wanted to change.

  • Earlier that day, Caleb met up with his brother and they made plans together to get back on track at the gym; previous to addiction, Caleb was an exceptional athlete.
  • Later that day, He met up with his friend from the Sober house and admitted his relapse, shared his feelings, and wept at his predicament – the water was getting hot and he was scared!
  • And yet, at 8:21 pm, he was frantically looking for his jar of weed.

A person in recovery, who is scared, is in a very precarious and potentially dangerous position. Emotions can be triggers for people in recovery – hard emotions can be the impetus for whole hearted change, or they can be the thing that drives them back to using cuz it hurts too much to make the change – fear, false confidence, and pain are a lethal mix; addictions’ claws grip deep and the power overwhelms. Helplessness and hopelessness are double whammy accomplices alongside addiction.

Deep inside, I knew my son had the heart desire to change his course and the ability to jump out of the pot… and I believe he thought he could too. Every person in recovery has a deep desire to be free of addiction and stay clean… no addict wants to be an addict.

Do you know someone in recovery who is relapsing and not listening, not acknowledging, or too afraid and is paralyzed in the moment and feeling the heat of the water increasing?

Stay close, if they will let you…

Do what you can to encourage them and take the time to meet them where they are at and do what you can to keep them out of the pot.

Are you in recovery?

Do whatever it takes to jump out of the pot – please!  Seek out a supportive family member or friend, go to a meeting… run, hike, bike, … take a long hot shower… eat spicy taco’s(!)… do anything to get out of the pot… just,

Don’t be the Frog in the Pot!

 

 

 

 

The PTSD of Grief

Trauma’s experience comes back to slap you in the face and knock you down when you least expect it while you grieve; this is PTSD.  Sounds, visuals, and even the time of day can trigger the pain all over again. This is one such moment for me:

moon thru the trees

Stepping out into the night air

this late at night

when all is quiet and still,

a chill reverberates through my veins.

 

The moon is high

and the damp cool breeze

freezes the memory even as my breath exhales a cloud

into the starlit space.

 

Visceral memory awakens

and I shiver and shake

back to the side of the road

on the night of your accident;

my stomach knots into a square.

 

The lights flash yellow and orange and blue and blindingly white

as trucks and cars are askew and many

blocking the way for everyone except us, your dad and me;

only we were allowed in.

 

Fear like no fear I felt before

overwhelmed me more than my imaginings

anticipated…

 

Waiting was hard.

Seeing was hard.

Comprehending was hard

and the ground beneath me was hard

and wet

and consuming me in the farmers’ meadow

like fermenting dung, and it all stunk!

 

I breathed deep

because I think I just stopped

from the shock of it all.

Disbelief and amazement stunned me

when I realized how close to death you came.

 

Even now,

as I step into this night months and months later

fear overtakes me

and I can feel the damp and see the lights and hear the confusion;

You were almost taken by the angel of death,

if it were not for the angel of life that carried you thru those juxtaposed poles

as you flew airbone

down into the belly of the farmers meadow.

 

Slapped across the face I feel the sting again, and again, and again;

PTSD for me

every time I step out into the night air

this late at night

when all is quiet and still …

and a chill reverberates through my veins.

 

You weren’t taken then,

but little did I know

time would only be yours for just so many months more…

and then you really would be gone.

Forever gone from my earthly-momma-grasp;

No more cool, moon-lit nights for you.

 

Deep, deep, deep it sits way down inside –

my fear was fully realized.

What I did not know,

was that night

was just a prelude to the worst night of my life.

I just can’t shake it; PTSD.

Fear like no fear I felt before remains within my bones.

One viscerally locked memory flows into the next…

 

Son,

I miss you so much.

***

 

So the question remains, “what do we do with the pain that re-occurs; how do we deal with this grief induced PTSD?”

I will tell you,

I just allow myself to feel it.

The pain and tears are what they are;

The hour passes and I am still me and I know

that God has been holding my hand

the whole time;

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”  Isaiah 41:13

As I approach my first Mother’s Day without my son, Caleb, I anticipate pain and sorrow to be heavily pressing upon my momma-heart even as I take joy in my other children both near and far.  I will not fear because I know God will be helping me get through the day.

If you are a grieving momma, I say, put your hand in His and let Him be your help you too!

 

 

 

 

 

That Dreaded in-the-Middle-of-the-Night- Phone Call

Hello?

Mom, is dad there?

Hello?

Where are you?

Where is your car?

Who is bringing you home?

Are you okay?

Why are getting into a strangers car?

What time will he be here?

Should we get dressed?

Is he okay?

Did he say where he is?

Did he say anything about his car?

Is that them?

What happened to your head?

Does it hurt?

Do you know you have an egg on your head?

How did that happen?

What town were you in?

What intersection?

This street?

This way?

How many tow trucks are there?

Is this your son?

Is he alright?

Should we call the ambulance?

Where is his car?

Down there?

He came from which direction?

Missed this pole?

Then that pole too?

How fast was he going?

Airborne?

How did he live through that?

He shouldn’t have?

Angels?

What were you doing?

Why were you even in this town?

How did this happen?

I can’t believe he did this?

Who will follow the ambulance?

 

***

All parents dread the phone call in-the-middle-of-the-night.

That was the night we realized just how deep our son’s addiction was and how dangerous it was becoming. It was the night we hoped would have scared him out of his denial.

Sadly, it did not.

If you have questions and wonder if your son or daughter is using a substance, seek counsel at your local Recovery Center or police station’s D.A.R.T program; do not let stigma or shame or fear hold you back.

 

 

What AA/NA has over the Church

PART ONE:

I am not an expert, nor a person in recovery, but I am a long time, church-going Christian, and I had the privilege to attend an AA/NA meeting and was involved in a similar type meeting – S.O.A.R.R., each took place in the basement fellowship halls of a church; my son was a recovering addict and that’s how I became connected to the meetings.

At first glance, the AA/NA & S.O.A.R.R and the Church at large, have many similarities:
• The meetings are weekly
• People are regular about meeting
• There is a book that guides them
• There is a leader who leads them
• There is a common goal
• There is mutual sharing and love.

I was kind of surprised at the many similarities actually.

However:

AA/NA meetings and the local S.O.A.R.R meeting, have something over the Church at large. There is this one thing that stood out and spoke volumes to me.

 

At the AA/NA & S.O.A.R.R Meetings, everyone is greeted with a genuine bear hug, and  people in recovery share testimonies at every gathering, not just on special occasions; I was awed at the level of surrender, humility and depth of airing real-life-messy; it took me by surprise, and without a doubt, convicted me and humbled me. Sharing and speaking up is the point:  Step OneWe admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Total SURRENDER. Total HUMILITY.
My eyes were opened to the brokenness that is unfortunately so prevalent. Heart & gut wrenching details, baring of deep soul hurts and challenges wove through every story like a rough thread in a fine piece of linen.
Total exposing the MESSY of life.

THEN…there was that one thing that melted me.
That one thing stood out like the one tall stalk of corn left in the plowed field.

ACCEPTANCE by way of NO JUDGEMENT.

This is it: the one thing AA/NA has over the church is a lack of judgmental attitude.

It did not matter who was speaking, it did not matter what they had done, experienced, or been through, or how they said what they said. Nods, tears, and mutual-empathetic-attitudes are what exuded from each one sitting in the meeting. Not one member at the meeting judged that person in the vulnerable seat. This witness melted a place deep in my heart.

It is my opinion, that the Church at large can learn something from the meetings that take place in their basement fellowship halls.

The Church at large is generally too clean; at least it can often seem that way because of the façade that is portrayed when people walk through the doors on a Sunday morning wearing their best and smiling their best as they greet each other, exchanging, “How are you’s?” with smiling replies,  “I’m fine” (when underneath it all, many, if not all, really are not).  I know from my own experiences, I feared the judgment of others, especially as I endured very messy things in my life and guiltily I admit, I seduced others to passivity as well with the “I’m fine” replies, too many times.

To the Church at large, I challenge you to break down the facades if they exist, stop fearing and instead, accept people who have messes and be willing to share your own messes; stop judging those who are struggling with really hard stuff; you aren’t as clean as you want everyone to think you are…
…surrender and be real, so that we all can be seen and heard and accepted and helped, without fear of judgement – no matter what the mess or struggle is…

To the AA/NA meetings and all people in recovery who are fighting for your lives, I say BRAVO! Keep doing what you are doing…
…surrender and be real, keep seeing and hearing and accepting and helping without judgement!

We are all here together in this life trying to survive and thrive – let’s not make it harder for each other. There should be genuine bear hugs enough for all.

 

Stay tuned for PART TWO: What the Church has over the AA/NA Meetings – Next Tuesday