How trauma effects the grieving and how you can help

Well the season is about to be here when Santa’s Wonderland will be open. I dread this every year. I know people can’t understand why anyone would not like Santa’s Wonderland, but let me tell you PTSD is real and due to where I live I have to pass this every night going home. It isn’t even here yet but my heart starts to beat a little bit faster just thinking about what it will due to me every night all through the holidays which are hard in general. For those that don’t know the details of “my story” a detective never made it to our house before I woke up and realized Sydney wasn’t home. I had gotten in the car to go look for her and when I got to the end of the road that faces Santa’s Wonderland all I saw were flashing red blue and white lights. We live out of the city, so there are not a lot of street lights and the darkness is extra dark which magnified the flashing lights. They were not actually flashing at Santa’s Wonderland because Sydney’s accident was on the feeder between William D Fitch and Nantucket but I could see them from that stop sign at the end of that road. I knew at that moment, after seeing those lights flashing..that was the reason she hadn’t come home..I also knew (without really knowing) at that moment that it was bad, that if she had been okay she would have already called me. Turns out I did know..without knowing..but it was so much more than bad..I share all of this to allow other people to understand that the trauma a parent goes through that surrounds their child’s death is something completely different than the grief from loosing them. For those whose child made it to the hospital, they most likely feel the triggers and flashbacks when they walk into a hospital especially if they walk into “the” hospital. These things can happen with more than just the moment you lost them. The other night when I walked into Central Baptist Church (the church we had Sydney’s service in) for the Crowder concert I immediately pictured the funeral and felt a horrible emptiness come over me. I’m 100 percent positive that is normal for a grieving momma but I still felt it and still had to process those moments when PTSD makes it way into the night and I must somehow figure out how to process and handle it. The triggers that envoke PTSD are different and unique to each each parent. They can be a smell, a place, something visual..etc. So here is what I know..the best way to process traumatic experiences is to talk about or write about them. It in some way allows them to enter a place that is outside of you. Talking and writing aren’t easy and is not the end to the process..Most likely you will be faced with it again but I believe the more you speak about or write about it the easier it is to handle and face it the next time it rears its ugly head. I’m 5 years out and I know without a shadow of a doubt when I see those flashing lights from the sheriffs car directing traffic at Santa’s Wonderland I’m going to feel sick, I’m going to have flashbacks of seeing the lights that night and feel the panic I felt driving up to the roadblock where I waited watching those flashing lights while they got the detective and chaplain to come and tell me my daughter was in the vehicle involved in the accident, and that she didn’t make it. I will need to process all the emotions that flood me, so when people bring up any part of their story be kind and listen. If you feel comfortable you can even engage them and ask questions. If they have brought it up they’re probably comfortable enough to converse about it. You have no idea, it’s a mean of therapy for them. They aren’t trying to be morbid or upset you they are most likely trying to process the trauma they’ve been through which may have been triggered by some event that day. It isn’t just important to talk in the 1st or 2nd year, It’s needed as long as they are still experiencing and processing the trauma they went through and for us parents, I’m pretty sure that will be as long as we are living with facing a reality that’s impossible. If you are a parent who needs support and feel like you just haven’t found it. Please find a Compassionate Friends Chapter or another pier grief support group and join a meeting. It truly is one of the safest places you can share and the people in your group become like family. They will always be there to listen because they don’t have to read this post to understand the need to share your child’s life, the need to process the pain and trauma, or the need to be heard and have your feelings validated without judgement. For those who haven’t lost a child you are just as important and can make just as big of a difference, all you have to do is listen, and love them. If they post about their child, if you can’t think of anything to say..just say Love and hugs or continued prayers for you, or say what you would say if it were a momma or daddy posting a picture of their child that wasn’t gone..for example beautiful girl or she is gorgeous. If the picture is a memory you can relate to comment from the heart, for example I sure miss watching her on the field or she made me laugh so hard that day. Now take all these tips and knowledge out into the world and help those who may need help. Never forget God uses people to answer prayers. Be the answer to someone’s prayers..Christianity is about action not just thoughts and words.

A grieving parent’s disability

Most people don’t look at someone with an amputated leg and expect them to become what they once were..It’s obvious when you look at them they are missing a piece of themselves..They must learn to walk…and possibly run again..but never will we look at them and expect them to have their leg back..yet many look at a grieving parent hoping and waiting for the day they are better..the day the pain eases and they have “their leg” back..Reality is..they have lost a piece of them just as if they have lost a body part..our handicap may not be visible but it is REAL..I must learn how to balance..walk..and eventually run again..but NEVER will I be whole again..I will never accept the fact that she had to leave but I have accepted the reality that she isn’t coming back..The pain of not having her will NEVER leave however I am praying for the grace to benefit from it and the willingness to let God use it to glorify him..No doubt God has been faithful to me just as he always is..I learned in an Experiencing God class years ago that God is always at work around you, you don’t have to run to a different city or another country to do his work..He has overwhelmed me with opportunities to disciple others right here as I continue to focus on him through my own handicap..but I am beyond humbled at the latest opportunity God has given me to help others..I was contacted by Kathe Hawkins a few months after Sydney’s accident and she talked about a need she saw in our community for a safe place for kids to go who have suffered loss and help them process their grief and allow them to remember their loved ones…it is not something that is easy to start, but with God all things are possible, and over a year later and her speaking and partnering with the right people her idea has a name, a building, and an amazing team that I get to be a part of..We are beginning to offer training classes for volunteers who may want to join and scheduling intake meetings for those who are in need of the services offered..I’m super excited to see the healing this facility will provide for our community and honored to know that Sydney was part of Kathe’s initial inspiration. I may not be whole, I may be unbalanced, and I may still stumble as I survive my handicap, but It continues to encourage me to know that even as broken as I am God still invites me to join him where he is at work. Please feel free to contact me if you would like any additional information