Solo Parenting a Grieving Child

There is nothing I want to see less than my son suffering from losing his father to cancer.  Jordon’s cancer was diagnosed March 28, 2014 and six short weeks later he passed away on May 9th, 2014.  This was my son’s experience with loss and there is no way to fathom how that feels unless you go through it.  Children at this age don’t write too much if they are athletic and boyish and enjoying the outdoors.  But what I want to tell you is I am watching this remarkable young man of mine, now who’s 14, grow to be a man.  And I want to write out a little of his experience as to help others and so I don’t forget.

One of the most painful days I’ve experienced so far in my life was watching my son wake himself up crying.  That’s real grief there.  And it ripped my heart out.  It is seared into the memory of my mind as one of the lowest days of my life.  What I will say is that morning drives me to help him heal and for me to do my utmost for his highest good.  And one of the things I do to help him is to get out of his way and let him use his own intuition and inner knowing so he can make his way to what he needs to heal.  And just like being a grieving adult, children are all individual and different.  And they are human too. And I feel as parents we might be too quick to get them doing things they might not be ready for.  Our nature is to jump in and save our children from pain.  It’s our job to protect them and keep them safe.  But we shouldn’t protect them from their grief.  It denies them the existence of what they are authentically feeling.  They need to trust themselves enough to decide and naturally gravitate to what they need to heal.  My son dove straight into his friends.  They were his lifeline in those early days and any deviation caused extreme emotional swings for him.  As long as he was physically moving and wanting his friends around he was stable.  It wasn’t until much later on that he had any interest in anything or anyone else.  It was hard and created damage in other areas of our life, but it allowed him to move through his grief as authentically as possible and allow him to gravitate towards what he needed most to heal.  We all make our way.  We have to.  Any deviation from our authentic healing is to supplicate to another’s need and we can’t help and heal others unless we focus on our own healing first.  And thats what I gave to my son~ the latitude and wide parameters to heal himself.


They Do Watch Over Us

Our loved ones who pass on are still with us and are able to help.  During the six weeks between my husband’s diagnosis till his death, I maybe slept an hour or two at a time.  Jordon’s pain could not be kept up with and I was constantly having to change his medicine protocol so sleep really wasn’t much of an option.  Oh yes.  This is how end of days go for many of us who have loved ones pass away.  There are doctor visits and home nurses that come to see us, but its the caregivers that have full responsibility. These are the things we don’t talk about much but we need to so that others can understand why we are the way we are now just a little better.  I lost my sense of time completely during those six weeks.  It had absolutely no meaning to me and its been real tough trying to get that back even after two and a half years.  All I was focused on was the next hour of our lives- forced compartmentalization of the day for my mind.  So sleep didn’t matter anymore.  And yes, many caregivers of terminally ill people go through more than you can ever imagine.  Because unlike doctors and ministers who work with the dying, we are working with our loved ones who are dying.  Caregiving takes on a whole new meaning for those of us who go through something like this with someone we love.

For the last 2 weeks of Jordon’s life I didn’t know when I went to sleep as to whether or not he would still be alive next to me in the morning.  That experience changed me for the rest of my life.  And there are no words to describe it. BUT….Here’s my point. The days following Jordon’s passing I had an amazing peace come over me as I went to bed each night.  Somehow I would fall into a dream like sleep and not even wake up with dreams or nightmares.  Nothing. Just peace.  And to have that happen can only be explained by the comfort they can bring us afterwards.  Looking back it makes complete sense.  And to be honest, I knew it then too. Jordon was always worried about my inability to sleep.  And this was his way of caring for me.

Tonight my son had a terrible hand injury during a football game.  A heavy 200 pound offensive lineman crushed his cleat onto the top of my son’s hand leaving every coach and doctor that saw him in the ER without a doubt that he had multiple breaks. BUT… They came back into the room and told him what a tough cookie he was with big strong bones.  The X-ray showed no broken bones.  And soon after we left the hospital the swelling went waaaaay down and he felt peaceful with very little pain.

Look, I believe.  There is not room left in my mind that tells me otherwise that my husband and my son’s father is with us, watching over and protecting.  I need to remember that more often.  Thank you, Jordon.  You amazed me in your life and you continue to amaze me now.  Jackson and I love you.





Anticipatory Grief: Debra’s Story

This is a story Debra shared with me about her own experience with Anticipatory Grief.   Thank you Deb for sharing your caregiver journey with us.  We need to bring this real experience into the forefront so that we may all know what many of us really experience and that we are not alone.  We are misdiagnosed.  Not informed. And support for this type of grief is often nonexistent. Please share this with others whom you know are caregivers of very sick or terminally ill people so that they know of Grief Anonymous.  We stand with them and are here for them.  ~Holly Barker, Founder of Grief Anonymous

My husband has been ill for the last 14 years. The past 9 months or so he has been either in the hospital, Transitional care or a nursing home more than he has been home. His prognosis is grim but he is a fighter. Unless you are or have experienced it I don’t think anyone can quite understand or appreciate the work & stress involved. For the past two weeks he has been in a hospital that is an hour from our home. Two weeks before that he was in a hospital that is about an hour and a half away from home. I am not old enough to retire so I try to juggle work, home and his needs. There is something so wrong with our society that there aren’t better alternatives than nursing homes. I can’t afford to just stay home on FMLA without money coming in. I also need to keep our health insurance. My spouse also is not of retirement age but due to end stage renal disease he is able to receive disability & medicare (which we do pay for) as a secondary insurance. He has lost his eye sight & has many physical problems. He needs full-time care and I think his needs are best served being cared for at home. Some of his problems have been caused by poor care in a rehab facility & he was only there for 2 1/2 weeks. What do people do? I am at a loss. I have contacted different state agencies but so far they just say they are sorry there really isn’t anything they can offer. I suppose if you could afford to pay someone to come into your home that would be one solution but that’s not an option for us. When I saw one of the articles about anticipatory grief – I had never heard of such a thing in my life but I now have a “name” for exactly how I feel.


When I Was Poor as a Church Mouse


I just want to have a little kidding time here and throw some advice back towards all the ones who feel its necessary to give those who grieve some advice with having never experienced grief before.  99% of the advice thrown our way comes from either good intent  or fear.  People try, and we really do have to at least give them some credit.  After all, we WERE them at one time.

Anyway, I want to throw some experienced advice backacha.  And not out of bitterness, but only from good intent.  I would have loved to have known then how amazing those days were when we were poor as church mice.  My husband and I started off small but mighty.  We both had real potential in the corporate world.  But early on, we decided family was what was most important.  So I quit my job in the pharmaceutical industry and stayed home to be with my young son.  We cut back and bought a little townhouse outside the city.  I shopped at Goodwill for our clothes.  We drove one car, so I took my husband back and forth to work every day so we wouldn’t have an extra car payment.  And our family trips were to see relatives and family.  These were the very best moments of our lives, me and Jordon.  We were very much in love and planning and parenting and enjoying everything that young marriage has to offer.  It was awesome.

And so was being a mother for the first time.  Oh my goodness, it was a dream.  I never thought of having children before I met my husband because I was entirely career driven.  But this man and this baby stopped me in my tracks and I finally found my calling.  My family.  I stayed with being a stay at home mom for 2 years and then finally needed to go back to work and my son needed to see someone else’s face besides mine, so I went back.

From there our careers flourished and so did my son having all the attention and love poured out to him.  We kept climbing and we finally found ourselves at the top of our games on many, many levels.  I had built a career in pharma sales and was calling on world-renown thought leaders in medicine at prestigious teaching hospitals.  (Psychiatric medicines I might add..)  And my husband was running the Canadian operations for his company from where he had started as a CAD designer at the age of 22.  So this was us.  Happy.  Healthy.  And loving our lives.

In July of 2006, Jordon called me while I was at a business meeting in Chicago to tell me he had cancer.  And thats when our reality stopped.  And another one started. For another 8 years.  Treatments and pain, worry and depression. Anticipatory Grief. And then the phone call in 2014, you have metastatic cancer, and he passed away 6 weeks later at the age of 41.

SO….my advice to all y’all who have never jumped over this fence before is to savor those moments.  It’s not about the car.  It is about who’s along for the ride. So take opportunities to make moments and experiences memorable.

Life is about learning and growing. No one is promised a perfect ride. Everyone experiences grief unless you are the first to go. . You can have it all and lose it all.  You can also lose everything and gain much too!! It is about experiences, really good ones and bad ones.

And now we are starting Grief Anonymous.  Two years later. And so much more is to come.  Just know you are not alone.  No one is going to hold back the truth here and we will be here for you when this happens to you. Oh yea….  and we even talk about the signs we receive from above. 🙂 Notice and believe.