Monday, July 13, 2015

Stages of Saturday Morning Grief for Parents

Everyone looks forward to weekends.   We all need the slower schedule, the chance to relax and catch up on sleep. It's especially important for parents of young children that are exhausted and embattled from a long week!  I can't even type that with a straight face.

It never fails.  In the early morning hours you hear footsteps.  A door opening.  A toilet flushing.  A cry or laugh.  You roll over and open one eye to check the clock: and it's 5:15 a.m.  For the love of all that is good and holy: why!??!

I can remember getting up with my kids before Netflix existed and PBS programming had started for the day.  It was 8 hours until lunch and naptime.  How would we make it?  Plus, I had stayed up too late just for some peace and quiet.  Is it so wrong to want to eat a snack without sharing and watch something besides Dora?

In difficult times like this, it's important to not let shock overtake you.  Remember you are not alone.  Others have walked this difficult path before you.  Here is a framework to help you through.

Soon, you will come out on the other side.  It's a glorious new day when the kids sleep until you are annoyed that half the day is gone. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Receipts and Legacies

At first glance, the receipt I keep in my wallet looks pretty random.  It is faded now but it was for a scone at an airport one year ago today.  It would be garbage in most cases but I cannot throw this one away.  One year ago today, my sister and I were sitting at the airport trying to force down a scone before we got on an early morning flight to Colorado.

Mom was in hospice.  Christy had just been there.  I was not up to traveling after my surgery.  But Dad said we should come.  We arrived in Denver to a nasty spring snowstorm.  We got to the house in time to spend two hours with Mom before she left this world and went to heaven.

I am not really sure why holding on to that airport receipt has become important to me.  Normally I am not the kind of person that holds on to stuff for comfort.  The receipt is a reminder of that day.  A day everything changed for me and my family.  Maybe holding on to it is a way to hold on to her.  In situations that are out of my control, it feels good to have something to hold on to.  Even though it doesn't make one shred of difference.

So as we have marked the milestones on this journey I keep wondering where do we go from here?  I enjoy reliving the good memories I have with her.  I miss her.  But I think this milestone is pushing me in a different direction.

My mom was a people person.  She loved people.  She cared like no one else I have known.  She was an encourager.  She was devoted to her family, traveled the world with her husband, called her parents every night.  She lived for her grandchildren.  She fiercely loved her nieces and nephews, her siblings, her cousins, her friends. 

Everyone remembers how she cared so deeply for the things going on in their life. When she was here, it didn't seem like that big of a deal.  But now that she is gone I realize how amazing it was. 

She loved.  Her great love and care flowed from her love for Jesus.  And if there is anything I want as I mark this milestone in my heart, I choose to live her legacy of love. I choose to fiercely love and serve my family, dote on my nieces and nephews, and take an interest in the lives of everyone I meet. That is what was extraordinary about her and I hope that I can live just a part of that.

I am not ready to throw my airport receipt away yet.   But I cannot stay there.  I choose to move forward and try to continue her legacy of love in my own life.   I am so thankful to have had her example and love all my life.  It's time to pass it on. #teampederson

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Back Door of Grief

When you find yourself sitting in a funeral home making arrangements, you really have no idea what is coming.  It seems like things could not get any worse.  

Most people that have dealt with grief have heard it all.  They are in a better place.  At least they are no longer suffering.  Heaven Rejoices.  Time heals.  Everything happens for a reason. While there is some amount of truth to all those statements, they still really suck.  And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

We have also heard the psychologists tell us what to expect.  Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and after which you magically move on to acceptance. It seems the world expects people to move through those in pretty short order.  In other words, pull it together. It's been long enough. Time to move on.

After living with grief for almost a year, I learned a little secret.  Grief has a back door.  All those feelings and stages and sayings are what happens when you are dealing with the obvious event of your grief.

I was not expecting a draft to sneak up behind me from the back door.  The back door is the reality of a world without your loved one.  Your world will never be the same.

It makes life different: birthdays, holidays, weddings and kids activities feel empty now.   Mundane things like phone calls or letters all of a sudden seem very important.

It seems to be a constant balancing act between trying to move on and not wanting to leave your loved one behind.  Is it possible to not live in the past but still honor a memory?

Your go-to people that you have relied on most heavily in life have now also been thrown into a weird world of grief and pain.  It can get complicated for a bunch of wounded people to try to console each other.

Everyone grieves differently. Everyone grieves at their own pace.  No one moves through the stages of grief at the same time.  Some might seem to move on too fast.  Others seem to be stuck in the past.  Some might not seem to care at all. 

Grief changes people.  It changes situations.  It changes life.  The reality of my circumstance now is almost as much of a shock as finding myself sitting in a funeral home. 

The fallout from grief can feel almost as devastating as what caused the grief in the first place.  Grief has a back door.  I guess I should have known. 

Grief can feel like so much is out of our control.  The back door is real but I don't have to let it knock me down. There is grace for even the reality of the back door.  Wounded people can comfort each other.  Grief can make you tender.  Life can be different without being unbearable.  Memories can bring joy. 

Grief and change can forge new depth in relationships.  I value family and relationships out of love, not out of duty.  It can spur the courage to make daring decisions.  Grief will scream a reminder about what is really important in life.

It's messy.  But the back door usually is. 

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


One year ago today, I had a CT scan. It revealed a massive ovarian tumor.
One year ago, my mom was at my house doing what she did best: laundry, cleaning and Grandma cuddling.  We thought she was healthy.  We wondered if I had cancer.

One year ago, started a chain of events that I could not have seen coming.  I had no idea what the next 525,600 minutes would bring. 

How do you measure a year? In sickness? In trial? In sorrow?

I could declare the last 12 months the worst year ever.  I could be glad that I have a new set of minutes in front of me. I can hope they are better.

But the song from the musical Rent is right: you have to measure in love.  The only way to know if the good and painful, happy and sad times in the last year mean anything is through relationships.  If I can't frame my circumstances in the love of God, family and friends then life becomes just minutes on a clock.

It's easy for life to become a list of obligations and things we have to accomplish.  I want to be sure that my next 525,600 minutes mean something. I don't want to look back and know I had a clean kitchen or a large bank account. I want to grow a real and genuine love for Christ.  I want to know that I invested in people.  That I have given myself to my husband and kids, more than just glancing up from my phone to half listen to what they are saying. I want to keep up with old friends and invest in new ones. I want to worship with other believers.

Because when you are laying in a hospital bed or sitting by a loved one's death bed, nothing matters more. 

When you have 525,600 minutes of joy and sorrow behind and before you, it must be measured in love.  Love has heightened the joy and softened the sorrow.  It has brought peace and comfort in difficult times. 

So no matter what comes in the next 525,600, I will choose love.

1 Corinthians 1:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.