Where I’m at and where I’m heading in this grief journey

As we come up on the second anniversary of Tiggy’s death, I’ve been thinking a bit about where I am in this whole grief journey thing.

I know things are better because I can do things I couldn’t do even a year ago. Thinking about the future no longer takes away my ability to breathe.  I can sit down and make a plan, though following through is still a little shaky. I can make simple decisions and no longer feel like the world is crashing down around me when the children all start asking me for things.

And I know things are better because I’m beginning to feel just a little impatient. I want to be able to set goals and meet deadlines and not feel like I am at the mercy of this emotional state that remains completely unpredictable.

I have days where I am incredibly energetic. I get things done and organized and planned. I pick up the pieces of the dreams we once had and think about where we were going with this land, with our homeschooling and with our own health and I start laying out plans to get everything back on track.

It looks so nice on paper.

But then life gets in the way. The day greets me with my seven year old handing me a heart shaped paper and a pen because she has a story she wants me to write.

My Brother Tiggy

“When I said “apple,” my little brother Tiggy said “apple” and ran to the refrigerator. When I said “nany,” he ran to the cabinet and said, “nany.” But one day it was sad. Tiggy got smashed. I drew pictures of Hello Kitty crying and said she couldn’t talk because she was so sad.”

And though she may hop down from my lap and go back to playing, my mind will stay there with my son who got smashed. I will be stuck replaying the images of that night in my head and worse yet, I will be stuck wishing I could take those images and that hurt from my children. And suddenly, it doesn’t really matter what my plans are for the day.

Then I fall behind and falling behind brings up those feelings of failure that I have been wrestling with since the day I lost my son.

And I realize that all these plans are not really helping.

So I finally took a step back and rather than focusing on this big picture of where we are headed, I considered the hard days. What could I do to make them a little easier so that it doesn’t feel so much like the entire day comes grinding to a halt whenever the unexpected pays a visit?

And I actually found some answers. So far, it is helping – – so much so, in fact, that I thought perhaps some of it may be of some use to someone else. So for the next unspecified period of time, I have committed to write an undetermined number of posts sharing some of the ways we have decided to take some of the stress out of homeschooling and healthier living.

I might even come up with some pithy title and call it a series, except that there’s that issue with follow through and I am a little more committed to not putting any extra unnecessary stress on myself than I am to any sort of “31 days to a better everything.”

And I guess that would be take away #1: Define what is most important and commit to not stressing over what only seems important at the moment.

And if you have any ideas to simplify life, please feel free to share in comments or in the nifty link-up. I’ll try to put up another one next Friday, as well.

14 thoughts on “Where I’m at and where I’m heading in this grief journey

  1. Florida Homesteader says:

    My daughter and oldest son were spending the night with my mom recently, just for fun. Due to my daughter’s normal flailing in bed, my mom got booted and as she was leaving to go sleep on the couch, she tripped over something and fell. There was a small crash, but the kids seemed to sleep through it and my mom just got up and proceeded to the living room. Seconds later, my daughter screamed and came running from the room sobbing that the dresser had fallen on her brother. She was hysterical. My mom knew nothing like that could have happened, but ran for the room anyway… where she found the brother sleeping very whole and soundly. It took some time to calm down the girl and my mom explained that she must have heard the crash from her falling, but in her dream it was a crash that hurt her brother. Tiggy and the accident aren’t easily forgotten, even from thousands of miles away. I’m glad things are getting a little better for you. And everyone can use ways to de-stress life. My only contribution to that is planning and scheduling… which doesn’t really help when everything falls apart, but it’s a must for me who will insist on doing far more than is feasible in a day… and completely railroad my beautiful children in the process. Knowing what can realistically happen and scheduling in a “catch up day” saves me from wanting to do it all today and saves my children from my fury when my own expectations aren’t met.

    • Planning and scheduling are good. 🙂 My problem right now is that I make my plans on good days and try to follow them on bad days.

      Or on days that are just busy. Like the last two weeks of having our puppies. I also discovered that, while I am able to do more, I am also only able to do one thing at a time. I have to focus more and it makes it more difficult to juggle things like getting ready for a craft show and homeschool and answer a deluge of emails about puppies while working with them on their last bit of training before they go home.

  2. Ruth says:

    I am really looking forward to reading these. I feel like I haven’t “gotten it completely together” since my miscarriages last year. I always feel I’m wasting away my time with my kids and spend most of the day guilty that I didn’t do the right thing that day. Thank you for sharing where you’re at. I really appreciate your honesty & openness. I believe it has helped many.

    • Ruth, I’m so sorry about your losses. I want to say to try to just focus on what you’re doing right now and don’t worry about where you think you should be or what you think you should be doing. It takes time and I think we need that time.

      But I also know how much easier it is to say that than it is to actually relax and try not to expect to do anything more than you can do. 🙁

  3. This is why from Thanksgiving to just past New Year’s we take a break from homeschool, and only lightly “school” until about Easter. The dates of 4 miscarriages, 3 births (and all three of my survivors are on the Autism Spectrum, as am I), and my father’s birthday & death day are all squished into such a seemingly short period, that is also filled with holidays. It’s been almost 14 years since I lost my first baby… almost 8 years since the birth of my youngest child, and almost 5 years since we lost my daddy. It’s a rough time of year for me. I struggle with depression, and am medicated – but this time of year makes it hard to function regardless. So we take things really easy. Run a Christmas movie everyday, relax, spend time playing games & hanging out, unschool in ways the kids aren’t even aware of, and just chill. It does wonders for all of us during the holiday season.

    • I think the holidays are a hard season anyway for anyone who is grieving, let alone when our losses happened this time of year. Everything that should bring excitement brings instead the bad memories.

      Last year we watched a show almost every evening from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I think it does help to just have that 90 minutes of distraction and peace while everyone is quiet and getting along.

    • We are slowing down this holiday season too. My oldest daughter is still lost in her addictive illness. My grandson will by moving to his (legal risk) adoptive home on December 8. Luckily, he will be with family members in a fully disclosed, open adoption. He will have been here almost 10 months and is so much a part of our family. We are still, for lack of a better description, “fighting” his father’s family for custody. (Even though we don’t have custody as my grandson is in state care and the state/guardian ad litem is representing my grandson and his best interest.) But, this is a small community and my husband works with the other grandfather so it isn’t as if we can just ignore them either.

      And, mom is grieving… and school is going poorly. I had thought about getting consumables because I am still pretty good still at assigning a page to do. But, everyone finds those boring. So we are mostly doing math and lots of reading out loud.

  4. Janice says:

    Dana, thank you for writing. Although I don’t know you personally (i truly believe Gid led me to your blog) I feel so connected to you as a grieving mom with other children and trying to homeschool and focus on our family’s health and eating (so much in common) 2 and a half years ago we lost our 3 year old daughter due to drowning in our pool. The day is forever etched in my mind and my children’s as well. I can completely relate to what you write with what you are experiencing and how you are coping and helping your children through this. I find myself praying for you and your family and my heart hurts for you. I’m looking forward to reading your future posts. Your honesty blesses us moms who can relate but have trouble articulating what it is we want to say. God bless you and your family.

  5. Homestead is Where the Heart is says:

    I just have to say… “I just met you and I love you.” Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey. Love to you.

  6. Virginia says:

    We don’t struggle with grief like most of these families, but we do struggle around this time of year. We do ‘year round’ homeschooling so that we can prepare for this seasons. It’s not stressful for the kids, but I get easily overwhelmed. The bad weather, being trapped inside, and a general malaise really puts off our schedules.
    I let the bedtimes slip a little and pretend it’s for fun. (More movies, later dinners, more art projects and late night cookie baking.)
    Morning is slower, less intent on getting to the home work. I focus on getting everyone cleaned and tidy, clothes put away. For some reason, in the summer, the mess of laundry and dishes doesn’t throw me, but in the winter, without any balancing of outside beauty, I get stir crazy.
    None of this is really helpful, but when I take care of my own emotions, I feel like we can get some work done without me flipping out about being off schedule. Which I still do, sadly. I keep reminding myself, it’s a season and in the spring it will be easier.
    Sounds silly, but I also write up a list of ‘things done’ instead of ‘to do’. Then I post it and look at it every time I feel that creeping fear of falling behind, failing, and being lost. It’s amazing how much you get done but forget to celebrate.

    Hugs and prays for your peace and comfort, especially for Bear.

  7. Jennifer says:

    My family went through a series of difficult trials over a 5yr. period… including a miscarriage (my 4th,) a child with emotional problems, my 16yos’s bone tumor in his skull that has to be removed by a very serious 12hr. surgery, moving to a new house and selling the old one, losing my best friend to cancer, going through another pregnancy with depression and needing medication, my sister’s health issues which culminated in her death at age 40, 3 days before I gave birth to my youngest daughter (8th living child) who had to stay in the NICU for 10 days, and then my husband losing his job and having to work temp jobs for 2yrs.

    We were under constant stress during this stretch of time, and I had to scale things way back to keep up with survival mode. With schooling, if we can’t get everything done, we try to at least get reading and math done. If they can read, they can read books about history and science and of course, their bibles.

    I had a rotating menu for breakfast with one child assigned to make breakfast as their chore. Another child made lunch which also had a rotating schedule. This was so I didn’t have to make decisions about food during the day. I’d like to say I had a menu plan for dinner, but really, I never got around to making one, so that was the most stressful thing on a daily basis. Whenever it was already planned, it was so much easier.

    The kids had chores assigned, and I can’t say we always got them done, but I felt that if we could at least keep up with laundry and dishes, the rest of the house could be kept up as we had time and energy. I did not commit myself to much outside of the home, as it seemed to cause more trouble if I had a lot going on.

    It was hard, but now, my youngest daughter is 3yo and we are all further along in our healing, so we are more active and busy outside the home again. I think looking back, that there was more gained by the experience than lost. The kids understand the value of family in a way that many kids wouldn’t. The older ones do not complain much at all about helping out around the house. The younger ones are learning.

    The best thing I can do for our school if I have the time and mental acuity is to make a syllabus for each subject for the older kids. That way, they can work independently when I can’t really focus on them. They learned to own their education and became more focus and self-directed in their learning, and I had less to worry about.

  8. Sarah says:

    I am on a totally different grief journey. Wondering how to walk it. I have walked a journey of grief before in 1999 when our full term son went to be with Jesus at three weeks due to a cord injury at birth.
    This is the incarceration of my husband. He as at least eleven years left. Has been gone seventeen months. Leaving me to raise 7 children ages 2 to 17 alone and try to get my college degree. I need help simplifying. Feels all is falling down around me.. including the godly home I have tried to keep. I don’t homeschool.. but it seems like I can never ever catch up. Lord HELP ME!

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