Helping Others In The Darkest Time of Their Lives

4 June 2015
PLEASE HELP BY MAKING EVEN A TINY DONATION

robyn Purple Framebpink roses - 1rpyH-17D - printI have become a Proactive Griever.
Don’t misunderstand, I have plenty of happier moments, now,
BUT
I have not stopped missing my daughter.
I have not stopped wishing that she were still living, breathing and having earth plane life, with me….
AND
Being a Bereaved Mom STILL Sucks!

I NEVER expected to be able to go on 6 minutes, 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months without having a living Robbie by my side.
And, now, here I am 6 years later,
not only still alive, but, every day, supporting and caring for other bereaved parents who haven’t yet
gotten to this place where THE LOVE out shadows
THE DEATH.

The Compassionate Friends
is what has helped me to become
AN INTENTIONAL SURVIVOR
of my Daughter’s Death
rather than succumb to becoming
A COLLATERAL VICTIM.
(thank you, Mitch Carmody, Kelly’s Dad,  and Alan Pedersen, Ashley’s Dad, for introducing me to that concept).

Now through TCF,
I not only strive to help myself, but to reach out to other bereaved families and support them,
in the same way that I have found compassion and understanding within our Chapter walls.

Every day, I try to be there for other bereaved family members,
to give a hand, a hug, love, caring and support.
To be there AS LONG AS IT TAKES
for the rawness of the worse pain ever known to a parent or grandparent
(and some of the worst for any sibling)
to finally be nudged out of the way by LOVE
(and finally for some, HOPE).

I do this, all,
IN HONOR OF MY DAUGHTER,  ROBYNAPRIL.

It is through the friendship, understanding, and hope provided by
The Compassionate Friends
that I am able to keep working surviving this most terrible of nightmares.
I am asking for a small tax deductible contribution to help me keep our TCF Chapter running.

I am asking for your help.
We need financial donations in order to keep our
The Compassionate Friends
East Of The River CT  Chapter
Going.
Every penny I, and other chapter members, help to raise
GOES DIRECTLY to keeping the chapter up and running to care for other bereaved families.

http://tinyurl.com/RememberRobyn2015

Every ounce of my efforts is because
I Want,
I Need
To Do GOOD WORKS
in Robbie’s Memory.

If you have ever cared about me,
or care about Robbie,
PLEASE
Don’t Let Robyn Be Forgotten!
Don’t Let The Children Of Our Chapter BE FORGOTTEN!
Collage Robyn
I can’t say it any more plainly that that.
I never expected to be without Robbie and every day it still hurts.
Every day I still wish it were different.
6 years later and  I am still struggle to accept our REALITY that Robbie will only dance next to me in spirit now.
I am in a different place than I have been, but “finding my footing” and regaining an enjoyment of living is very slow going.
Nothing in life prepared me for the Death Of My Daughter and it has dramatically changed who I used to be.

Every 29 seconds a family somewhere in the United States will experience the death of a child.
NO ONE IS IMMUNE.
I know this heartbreak all too well since my RobynApril left the earth plane December 4, 2008….the day that every thing changed for our family.

Every month The Compassionate Friends,
through its 650+ chapters and the National Organization,
provides bereavement support to tens of thousands of families like ours.
Jim and I began the East Of The River CT Chapter
so that we could reach out to help other families enduring their own nightmares.

I know that money is really tight all the way around these days.
I haven’t been able to work since Robbie’s death and every penny counts.
Jim has had, now, 5 heart attacks that prevent him from being a wage earner.  (and being 71 doesn’t really help either!)
We truly understand a really tight budget.
Your financial support doesn’t need to be huge.
Little bits can add up.
The minimum that the on-line Friends Helping Friends TCFWalkToRemember.org site accepts is $5.00
….and even that helps me feel as if you care; and that Robbie isn’t forgotten, that she still matters.

The WALK TO REMEMBER is how we raise funds for our East of the River Chapter,
allowing us to reach out and support others in need.
100% of every donation made on line makes it directly to our The Compassionate Friends East Of The River CT Chapter.

I can’t imagine how it would have been if right after Robyn’s death I had no one to turn to at all…
…no one who “got it”
and who could just be there to help me through that most awful beginning
…and still remains to help now….
TCF has become a caring family and a safe place.

By supporting us during The Walk to Remember fundraising drive,
you will be helping Our TCF East Of The River CT Chapter to raise money
to continue to meet and to expand vital programs and outreach to bereaved families in our area.
You’ll be helping us to help others
IN PAIN,
CONFUSION,
ANGER,
and HURT
who desperately need a little light brought to their darkness to survive the worst tragedy of their lives.

TCF NEVER charges for any services, but we need funds to keep going.

SPONSORING IS SIMPLE
MAKING A DONATION IS SIMPLE
JOINING OUR FUND-RAISING TEAM IS VERY MUCH WELCOMED
http://tinyurl.com/RememberRobyn2015

—just use the link and follow the prompts.
Thank you for helping me to honor the memory of my daughter, RobynApril.
Thank you for honor the memory of all of our Chapter Children.
Thank you for helping to keep them all alive in our hearts.

PS
Please consider joining our VIRTUAL WALK team.
Then, you can use the site to safely AND NON-INVASIVELY email
your family and friends,
inviting them to do a GOOD WORK
of making a tax-deductible donation, too–

And, if you are able, please JOIN OUR FREE DAY OF COMMUNITY & CARING
www.WalkToRememberCT.org

Hugs, love and Light to all,
~Bettie-Jeanne,
Forever Robbie’s mom
f tearchild hand butterfly

 

Why I Allow Myself To Be Sad and Feel Pain After My Daughter’s Death

I was singing the song, YESTERDAY, by the Beatles the other day.
Feeling it.

 “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be,
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly…
Why she had to go I don’t know
She wouldn’t stay…
I said something wrong
Now I long for yesterday…”

and I posted it on Facebook, commenting,

“Yep. Yesterday.  (not literally yesterday, but about 53 months ago)”

 A newly bereaved mom
(two months “out”  or “old” as Mitch Carmody and Alan Pedersen, bereaved dads and grief specialists, phrase it – our new age)
responded on Facebook , saying

Ugh….53 months sounds like forever when I’m not even on 3. I don’t want to be 53 months and still so sad…”

Sadness.
Grief.
Complex.

It provided me the opportunity to look at my own emotions,
at my own Sadness…

I truly believe that
If you don’t Want to Be Sad, then  you won’t be.

I believe that You will be what you allow and what you choose.
You CAN fight off The Sadness.
You CAN choose
” I can’t help how I feel, but I CAN help how I think and act”.

You CAN push through The Pain and make a deliberate choice to Think and Act “Happy” and then, eventually, you will be so.

But I have not done that This Time.

This time I am allowing my emotions.

This time, for now, I am being true to my feelings
(most, not all, of the time -There ARE times that I mask for reasons of the moment.  But I REFUSE to pretend that my heart hasn’t been shredded just to make the “civilians” around me more comfortable).

Once upon A Time…I used to be a motivational speaker, by profession.
I used to teach people how to apply the concept of
“I can’t help how I feel but I CAN help how I think and act”
to nearly every crappy situation in their lives,
and, then discover when continually doing so,
that such a little thing can positively impact their lives.

I took a course when I was 17 called ADVENTURES IN ATTITUDES (google it) –
it was LIFE CHANGING!!!!
And that was when I was first introduced to
“I Can’t help how I FEEL,
(feelings exist- we don’t ask for them- we don’t look for them- we don’t go shopping for them- they JUST ARE….)
BUT I Can Help how I Think and Act….”
(I can change my circumstances by thinking and acting differently than how I feel.  
I can not react to challenging emotions  I can think positive, uplifting thoughts through challenges.  I can smile and Act like it is the brightest day of my life, even if I feel sad or have difficulties.  And, eventually, how I feel may come around to how I am acting.  If I believe and will myself to be a Happy, Contented Person, I can become a Happy, contented Person.)
It is, in essence, the Power of Positive Thinking.  And it WORKS.

I applied that very little, but POWERFUL, concept to dealing with my years of sexual abuse,  through a bad and abusive first marriage, through bankruptcy, through my physical and psychological care giving to, and followed by the deaths of  Jim’s parents, his aunt and uncle, my parents, and  two best friends; through Jim’s five heart attacks.  I applied it through the difficult and debilitating terminal illnesses of my parents who I was taking care of….and used it to survive grief after their deaths.

I applied it to every negative facet of my life and turned my attitude ,
and often,difficult  circumstances around.

I was one of The Most Lighthearted, Upbeat-In-The-Face-Of-Challenges, Happy Inside, Peace-Owning people I Knew…Because I had decided that I WANTED TO BE and so I was going to Be.

Robyn frequently, and lovingly, but with a hint of annoyance in her smile,
enjoyed calling me “The Perky B**** “!

So I know because I lived it,
and because I was a really good life coach for others who applied it and lived it  and it worked for them, too,
that
 ” I can’t help how I feel but I CAN help how I think and act”
can be Positive Life Changing.

I don’t know that anyone can truly understand this next part, unless, maybe, they have walked a mile in my shoes….
Unless maybe they had a child who grew into their best friend, their pal,  their business partner and then, violently and suddenly had her life ripped from their own….

For right now, until when and if OTHERWISE comes,

I AM JUST ALLOWING THE EXPERIENCE OF ROBYN’s DEATH.

I am NOT going to fight it

I am NOT going to try to talk myself out of the emotions

I am NOT going to take “a negative” and reshape it into the positive that will never be.

I am NOT going to try to climb over it.

I’m not going to bury under it.

I’m not going to go around it.

THIS TIME, for this most horrible of Life Experiences,
I am going to Walk Through The Pain.

It’s really hard to explain.

But THIS TIME I feel that both Robyn and I really deserve
(not as”punishment” but as Truth)
for me “TO ALLOW” to be fully immersed in The Experience,
the Ugly Reality of her death
and not try to take a short cut.

We live in a cut and paste world.
For most of our lives we’ve had a rewind button and the fast forward button.
We don’t like what we see? We skip ahead.
We need a “do over”?  We rewind to have the experience again,
or we cut and paste something new in.
Then came the delete key.
How EASY to get rid of something that we don’t like clogging up our lives.
Heck, we can even UNFRIEND people with the simple click of a button
and erase them from our lives as if they never existed.
This technological world has impacted how we emotionally  deal with things;
how we think of things,
and how we are SO ABLE to avoid things.

For a good chunk of my adult life,
I have had  word processors and computers that have allowed me to take “it”,
move “it”
and if I don’t like”it”,
then I can easily get rid of it,
delete it into a garbage can,
shred it,
make it just “go away” as if it were never there….
or, with new technology, I can now morph it into something else…..
(morphing is so cool!)

Every thing for past 30 plus years has been about short cuts
and changes
and morphing negatives into positives.

I’m NOT taking a shortcut with Robyn’s death.
I am allowing the Truth of The Emotions.
And THIS SUCKS more than Anything SUCKS.
This is more painful than ANYTHING that I ever thought could be lived through.

I am a The Compassionate Freinds Leader.
I facilitate several bereavement groups.
All of time I see people who try to Fight Grief
They are ‘afraid of it’…
they don’t like the way that  it makes them feel…
they don’t like being sad….
they don’t like Tears, Crying, Sadness…
…being BEREFT…
…Screaming into the pillow at night until they are too hoarse to speak.
They don’t like the feeling of Not Being In Control…
they hate weeping…
emotions all over the place…
or suddenly getting hit with a wave of grief that hurts so badly it feels as if ever feeling differently is impossible

…and we do live in a “Get Over It”  World….that lacks empathy and understanding for deep grief…
We live in a short cut
medicate
“deal with it”
“you can’t change it, so just move on”
Kind Of World…
and so they, who Try To Fight Grief, work to push it away;
they try to hide from it and try to keep busy so they won’t feel sad…..

THIS TIME, I am allowing Sad.

Maybe keeping busy to not feel pain is a way that some people can deal with their grief
(and other “bad” or challenging situations in their lives and I am not judging their need to deal with their situation in their own way)
But I know that, for me,
running away from it and trying to take a short cut,
isn’t a positive.

I need to Walk Through This Fire.

Not around it,
not fly above it,
not burrow under it.

I need to Walk Through the Pain.

I need to be True to This Ugly Experience.
I need to allow Robyn’s Death to take coal and create a diamond on the other side of the flames.

I feel that my daughter deserves better than a shortcut
 and, in my own respect for myself, so do I.

Now, that is Not  to say that at 53 months “out” or “old” in my new bereavement age,that I never feel happy.
I do genuinely laugh again.
I have experienced plenty of moments of Happiness since Robyn’s death,
and they are becoming more and more so.

Just this month after our regular TCF meeting,
a few of us went to  eat after the meeting.
We sat in the diner until 12:30 in the morning, chatting, laughing, liking being together!
Oh!  Did we ever laugh!
Three bereaved moms and two bereaved dads,
and we  were laughing so hard,
and being so silly
that we even remarked that no one would suspect that we are bereaved parents!
And it was Real!
We weren’t masking.
We weren’t Faking.
We, who all miss our children, were having fun….

….and back when I was sitting where my newly bereaved new friend is  now,
I never would have believed that fun would ever be possible again…..
and now I know that it is……
(still working on FUN, but fun, and even Fun, is OK for now
Enjoyment, now….THAT is something else, indeed)

I speak and teach a lot about
The Secondary Losses of Grief
to help people understand that there is something that is to “be expected” about all of this
(that is me, refusing to use the word “NORMAL”
~whatever can be “Normal” about my daughter dying before me?!
~whatever can be “normal” about my first born being crushed to death!?
So I phrase it that
Certain things in grief ~ Certain things in being a Bereaved Parent Can “Be Expected”…)

…. and I also know,
because
I am living THROUGH IT
that those Secondary Losses of Grief DO change again.

I am beginning to live in color again

And as it’s happening,
it is happening with a Natural Progression.
I didn’t short cut it.
I’m leaving it in the manner that is right for me.
I still have plenty of sadness and plenty of pain.
….and it can pop up without obvious triggers that I  understand….
but I am NOT Sad all of the time.

More and more and more each day,
I’m able to find ways to laugh about Robyn,
to smile about Robyn,
and to remember and celebrate her life,
rather than to just mourn her death.

I am becoming an Intentional Survivor of My Life
instead of a Collateral Victim of Her Death.

But without Shortcuts.
Without cut and paste.
By Living Through The Pain.
And I allow for the fact
that I may become,
(in fact, Expect To Become)
a happy and lighthearted person again someday;
just not today.  ♥

 

Enduring April, Softened By Memories Past

It’s April Again.

It is the 4th April without my daughter and I find myself shaking my head in disbelief that time keeps going on and that, somehow, somehow, somehow I keep surviving along with it.  It seems only a blink of an eye, and forever ago, that even one more moment without Robyn in it was going to end my breathing.  And yet, here I am, breathing, enduring, sometimes experiencing happy moments; not hating life as much as I used to.  I haven’t come to embrace life again yet, but I am avoiding it less.

It’s April Again.

The time that many say is of rebirth and newness ~ teaming with new beginnings and new opportunities…

A Time of Hope, some say.

April was always a favorite month for me.

My RobynApril was named for the joy that I always found in the magic of the reawakening of nature after our bleak  and grey New England winters. And though she wasn’t born in April, April became the month of Robbie’s “2nd” birthday, enduring it to me even further.

On a very magical April 10th, 14 years ago, Jim , Robyn and I stood in Judge’s Chambers, finalizing her adoption. She had long been Jim’s daughter by love, if not by birth, and now, finally, we had been able to take the steps to bring to legality what had already been in our hearts. Once the Judge had completed the legal abracadabra between father and daughter, he turned to Robbie and I to now adopt each other as well.  It took us by surprise, this legal t crossing and i dotting that we hadn’t known about.  Even though she had emerged from my body and was my own birth daughter, we were now being asked to reaffirm ourselves as mom and kid.

Of course, we hemmed and hawed, teasing each other, then very happily and very solemnly agreed that we were adopting each other for all of our lives.  We were making a very conscious choice to accept each other as we were, with our faults and frailties.  We had always felt that we belonged together, that we had been connected, sharing lives together for eons.  And now we were choosing as two women, as two friends, as Mom and Daughter, forever connected.

Six years later, on Robyn’s wedding day she publically shared a message to me

“Mom, I love you so very much, there aren’t the words for it.  I know that you feel your position isn’t special.  But it is very special to me.  Yes you did give birth to me which automatically give you the Mother-Of-The-Bride Title.  You’re more than just that to me, which is why I came up with The Honor Hand Maiden Title that is so very appropriate for you.  You’ve helped me out getting ready for everything from school pictures to dance competitions to life.  And you still continue to be there for me when I need you…
Mom, you remember back to April 10th 1998 when Jim adopted me.  Remember how surprised we were that we had the choice of you still being my mom.  It was in that moment that you and I decided that we wanted to be mom and daughter.  That to me says more than anything in the world.
When something exciting happens or I’m feeling blah or I’m just being silly and having an over active imagination or I need a little encouragement or when I freak out because I actually am enjoying baking and cooking, you’re the 1st person I call.
Yes you are my mother and that’s important,
But mom, you’re also my best friend.
I love you, always!!”

œ ♥  
I have always thought of April as Robbie’s 2nd birthday—goodness knows, she loved getting two birthday gifts! But I have also come to realize what a gift it was to me…I not only gave birth to a baby who had no conscious choice of being my child, but my child also became a young woman, who, given the choice, deliberately chose me to be her mom.

I have been having a lot of emotions surfacing this April, bittersweet within the memories.  It’s been hard, missing her.

Every month ~ Every week ~ Every day ~ There are triggers ~ Reminders ~ Remembrances

But it doesn’t take a “special occasion” because wherever I go, whenever I go, my daughter is still forefront in my heart and in my mind.
I carried her ten months inside of me
And I will carry her in my heart for all of my days.

April has long been filled with the magic of reawakening, rebirth and HOPE.  Robbie lived up to the light of April in her name.  And now, 40 months after I kissed her  good bye for the last time, I am struggling to find and remember that magic and Hope in a life without her physically here.

I am here, breathing, enduring, sometimes experiencing happy moments; not hating life as much as I used to.  I haven’t come to embrace life again yet, but I am avoiding it less.♥