Dancing With Grief
The other day I had to go to the hospital to have some routine tests done. The nurse took me back to my room and hooked me up to the blood pressure and heart machine. I was chatting happily with the nurse when I heard it.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
It was the consistent beep of the heart monitor. Suddenly, I could not breathe and the crushing pain in my heart was crippling. Huge tears rolled down my cheek as I was immediately taken back to the day my six-year old son passed away.
The sights and smells and sounds of the hospital overwhelmed me and brought back so many devastating memories of that night we lost our son. Grief snuck up on me, grabbing me from behind, suffocating me. I closed my eyes, familiar with this feeling. I’ve been dancing with grief for 12 years and it still consumes me when I least expect it, spinning me out of control.
I quickly wipe my eyes, pushing grief aside. I don’t have time to dance right now, but it is too late. Tears stream down my face and my heart longs to hold my son and see his face again. It does not matter that 12 years have passed, the pain is fresh and all I know is that I miss him and wish he were still here with me. I don’t always enjoy dancing with grief, but we are partners for life.
The nurse is flustered and concerned that I am somehow in pain and she is trying desperately to console me and find out what is wrong. I assure her that I am fine and that the beeping of the machines just triggered some painful memories for me. She smiles sadly at me and nods her head, completely understanding my sudden dance with grief.
I never know when grief will show up to dance, but I know that he is always there . . . lurking in the shadows, waiting to grab my hand and spin me back in time. Some days grief surprises me and I don’t feel like dancing, but he is insistent and I have no choice but to take his hand and accept this tragic and heartbreaking sadness that washes over me. But then there are days that I eagerly grab his hand and dip back in time and let the memories wrap me in their embrace.
This dance with grief is my connection with my son and it is all I have left of him here on earth. It is during this intense dance with grief that I can feel my son’s small arms wrapped around my neck and hear his infectious giggle once again. It is proof that he lived and that I loved him with all my heart. As we spin round and round, those sweet memories of him swirl around me. They make me laugh and cry as pain and joy twist together. They give me hope and make me long for Heaven.
Grief . . . it is a life-long, never-ending dance. But as always, I am reminded that where there is deep grief, there is great love. My son – he was loved fiercely, and because of that . . . I will gladly dance with grief for the rest of my life.
Heather Duckworth 2018
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to communicate and how to communicate the particulars of how we parent our children from hard places. You want to give them enough information so they won’t “undo” what you are doing yet you don’t want to overwhelm them. Here is an excellent letter written by the authors of No Drama Discipline that we found helpful.
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By: Kayla North
I don’t consider myself a lazy person. I am up early, I rarely sit down, and I always have a to-do list a mile long. I mean who has time to be lazy when you are a parent? Yet I find myself parenting lazy. I find myself saying ‘no’ to my kids out of laziness. I find myself yelling at my kids out of laziness.
Let me explain.
A few years ago we signed up for the Empowered to Connect parent training. It really made us reconsider some of our parenting strategies. We had to look at the parenting tools we were using and decide if they were working.
Most of us have four tools in our parenting tool belt:
- verbal reprimand (yelling)
- isolation (timeout, sending kids to his/her room)
- physical punishment
Most days we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of using these tools to no avail. They seem effective because we see our kids behavior modified in the moment. But rarely does the change in behavior carry over to the next day or interaction. As a result, we find ourselves doing and saying the same things again and again.
The ETC course offered to show us 25 new and different tools that we could use with our kids. We just had to be willing to put the other four to the side. We agreed, and we were introduced to a crazy new world of parenting. One that has proven to be effective and has taken us to a whole new level of connection with our kids.
One of our first homework assignments was to give our kids a day of saying ‘yes.’ Every time we wanted to say ‘no’ to our children, we were asked to stop, think about why we were saying ‘no’, and if possible give a joyful ‘yes’ instead. Now this was a daunting task and I was a little skeptical about what it would accomplish, but we did it anyway. What it showed me was that my kids didn’t take advantage of me saying ‘yes’ to them. It showed me that saying ‘yes’ as often as I could helped them accept ‘no’ when I couldn’t say ‘yes.’ It also revealed that my laziness was getting in the way of saying ‘yes’ more often to my kids.
“Mom can we ride our bikes?”
I wanted to say ‘no’ because that would require me to get the bikes out and supervise them in the front yard. It was easier to let them play in the backyard with something else.
“Mom can we get out art supplies and paint?”
I wanted to say no because it was messy and I didn’t want to deal with the clean up.
“Mom can I have a snack?”
I wanted to say no because it required me to do something.
What this exercise showed me was that so often my response to my kids is lazy parenting. I don’t want to be a lazy mom. I want to be a mom who is fully present for her kids. I only want to say ‘no’ for good reasons. I want my kids to remember me as a mom who engaged them in play daily, who let them get messy, and who said ‘yes’ often.