Grief-ism is a word I use to describe the many odd, strange, weird and seemingly unreasonable, irrational things that bereaved mothers do. I needed to give it a name. People might question or judge a bereaved mother as being emotionally or even mentally unstable with some of the things we do to preserve the memory of our deceased child(ren). Coming upon the anniversary of my daughter Chelsi’s suicide amps up my grief-isms.
You might ask “Why would you continue to pay for a cell phone number when your child has been gone almost 5 years??” I personally have needed to keep it active because I still text my daughter. It’s been kind of like a depository for my aching, undeliverable messages that linger in my mind and heart…. It’s a Grief-ism.
I tattooed half of my left arm to memorialize Chelsi on my physical body. Each year I send a birthday card with her name on it, stamped and with no address or return address so it doesn’t come back to me. I celebrate her birthday with her favorite cookie cake. I’ll buy almost anything with a sunflower on it. Each year since she’s been gone I order a personalized Chelsi Christmas ornament. I want.. I need her to be remembered.
I wear her shirts, spray my pillow with her perfume, and regularly sniff the bandanas she used to wear on her head like Rosie the Riveter in the “We Can Do It” poster. This kind of crazy is very personal. I use to question my own behavior (and sanity) but decided to accept it because it beats the alternative. If I didn’t express my grief in whatever way was calling in the moment, I may have gone mad.
As a bereaved mother, I’ve struggled with having a foot in two worlds. My human motherly self can be filled with anguish at such loss, yet my spiritual self sees everything including Chelsi’s death, in Divine and Perfect Order. My human motherly self yearns for my daughter’s physical presence, while my spiritual self knows without doubt, that Chelsi is delighted to be free of her human-ness. It has been an internal tug-o-war. But something is shifting.
Last night I had a huge “ah ha moment”. I realized that the many things I do to keep Chelsi’s memory “alive” have all been to keep her close to me ~ to soothe my heart. But the fact is, the more human things (grief-isms) I do, the bigger the wall between my human self and her Soul-self. This keeps us more separated. So while I desperately want to connect with her spirit, I know it can never be as direct as I would like it to be if I continue to do these human, earthly things.
I have never considered this kind of letting go. It took time to get to this place and it will likely take time to relinquish my grief-isms. But it’s time to start because more than anything I want connection. I want Chelsi to be able to fully express her Soul-self without the weight of my keeping bits and pieces of her tethered to the Earth. She wants this too. I can now feel how this also weighs me down.
I’ve received some wonderful and amazing heavenly messages from Chelsi since her passing on June 4, 2016. She has had to work hard to get them to me. This letting go process will open the channels for clearer, more direct connection and I’m looking forward to more of that!
If you know a bereaved mother and would like to help, here are a few things that can soothe her broken heart….
- Say their child’s name.
- Acknowledge birthdays, anniversaries of their passing, Mother’s Day, etc.
- Ask about their child.
- Reminisce with them about happy times with their child.
- Don’t change the subject when she’s talking about her transitioned child.
- Conversations about their child should always be loving and never critical.
- Remember this mother’s energy has literally shattered and it takes a lot of time and work to bring these pieces back.
- Sometimes saying nothing is what’s needed.
- Her short term memory is likely challenged. Avoid saying things like “Don’t you remember?”. No she really doesn’t.
- Encourage the bereaved mom to be gentle with themselves.
- She may not be able to sort through her child’s belongings for a very long time. It’s one of the hardest things we have to do and it has to be done when the bereaved mother is ready. It takes a ton of energy to work through this. She may welcome a loving, helping hand or she may need to go it alone. She gets to decide. In the meantime, don’t throw away so much as an old sock unless the bereaved mother okays it.
- Letting go is hard and has to be done on the bereaved mother’s terms.
- Most of all, be patient and kind and accepting of her grief-isms. No judging!
I imagine I’ll continue to miss Chelsi holding my hand when we walk down the street together. I’ll still miss exchanging hot dog hugs and singing to our road trip playlists. But the freedom we’ll both experience is what both Soul-selves so want!
To every human that has been kind to me along the way, I am grateful more than you realize. To every bereaved mother, the big tears we cry are for the profound sorrow we all feel for each other as we navigate life minus our child. I am here for you if you ever need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.
With so much Love,
Tracy, I have been blessed not to lose a child, but I relate to so many things you said having lost a sister, my mother and father. You wrote that beautifully and I felt more joy than sadness in reading it and understood everything you were saying to the point where I can’ understand your loss. I can’t imagine the journey you’ve been on, but I know you will get to that place when you’re ready and I am rooting for you. ❣️
Tracy, I think of you often and the amazing gift of Reiki you taught me.
My deepest condolences on the loss of your daughter. I did not know. Your words above are so beautiful and moving.
Thank you for being vulnerable. It’s important for those of us that have not experienced this kind of loss to understand your grief.
Love, light and healing on your journey.
Hi Tracy. Was thinking about you yesterday and praying you were healing snd doing alright. What a beautiful surprise to see this email this morning.
I’m so so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine losing my daughter and quite frankly it’s a fear of mine as I suppose all
Moms have. I truly hope this blog and all the work you have done processing your grief helps you to connect deeply with Chelsi in spirit form. I truly believe those who have crossed over have messages for us and want to communicate. Looking forward to reading your blog and sharing your story. Love and hugs, Mags ❤️🙏😘
Thanks for sharing this
Welcome back my Soul Sista’…you my love have been missed by many!
I am so proud of you for taking the next step on your new journey. Just remember you are never alone, I’m always available if you need a travel buddy along the way, to where ever you need to go! I love you!
Thank your for sharing a piece of your journey! 💕
Sending you big hugs and lots of love. I will never forget “cupcake” and your devotion and love towards her and, now, her son. So glad to see your magic back online despite the inevitable messes that got you here. I love you!
What a beautiful testimony for your daughter! I love how you still text her.
My Mom died 53 years ago and I still write her letters. She loved to embroider and one of her pieces is always in bed with me.
Lots of blessings for you… love your new blog! <3
I adore you and I adore your magic. 💕💕💕
Beautiful. I relate to a lot of this- thank you for putting it down in these words. ❤️❤️
Thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your new email list. You have been on my mind lately, so getting your message was exciting for me!
And thank you for sharing these intimate details about how you have been grieving and how you are transforming with the grieving process.
I’m so glad to be in touch with you and look forward to connecting more!
I can’t count how many times I’ve prayed for you and sent you love from afar. Reading your words touches my soul on a level that I am unable to explain, but greatly appreciate. You and your family are blessed and there’s magic in your home and everywhere you go. You have so much to share with the world and your Magic in the Mess blog will touch many. Thank you.
Beautiful.. just beautiful! 💜✨
Wow, Tracy, your blog blew me away. So heartfelt, open, loving, & vulnerable. So beautifully written. I am so sorry to hear about Chelsi. I can’t even imagine how devastating of a loss that is for you and your family. I don’t have any children, but when my dog and cat died, I was stricken with grief. I know it’s not the same as losing a child, I just know how grief can take a toll.
You did a great job of letting us know what it’s been like for you. I don’t think it’s nutty at all, the kinds of things you’re doing to hold on to the memories. It’s comforting and helps keep the connection. In fact, I even bought a card that I’m going to send myself for my birthday soon, from my mother who crossed over this past Jan. I feel she or spirit led me to this card, and I was moved to buy it. Texting Chelsi – well, I don’t even know how to put that one in words, I was so moved by that image. And I do understand your point of slowly letting these things go.
I love the term, Magic in the Mess! I’m so glad you are finally seeing some light and moving forward with your blog, etc. It has already helped me, with your point on self-care. I’ve been spiraling down and ignoring self-care, so your story of the deer really got to me.
I also love how you’re educating us. For ex. your list of do’s and don’ts, ex. use Chelsi’s name, don’t change the subject, etc. People get so uncomfortable talking about grief and death, especially when there’s a suicide in the mix.
In the year 2000, I experienced an amazing set of “coincidences” (not!), like the chaplain of HCGH taking me by the hand in the bookstore (I did not know him at the time), and guiding me to purchase the book, Hello from Heaven, by Bill & Judy Guggenheim. Years later I saw him at a lecture on NDE’s and introduced myself and he said he did remember me since he said he’s never done that before! (take a stranger’s hand in the bookstore). The book is all about after death communication. Chapters on rainbows and butterflies, and how a loved one comes back with a touch or smell or how we can see or feel their presence, etc. You may already know most of this, but the stories are comforting, and I thought it might be helpful for you or someone else. It has been one of my “missions” to recommend this book all these years, so you’re next on the list!
I wish you all the best, I’m so glad to hear from you, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.
Big hug and lots of love,
(T’ai Chi Chih , Reiki/Chakra work, Native American Healing)
Beautiful momma…this blog about grief-isms speaks volumes. There are many times within this journey that we might question our sanity, I know that I have. I believe it goes with the territory, unfortunately. Eventually, we begin to see with our heart and feel with our soul and realize that this truly is a sacred space. In order to heal and navigate the darkness that often accompanies the grieving mother, we learn to carry the pain by living in the light of their love. Love never dies…Love will see us through. I love you.
Best message you’ve ever written of many that have found their way to people’s hearts. I love you!
Tracy, you never wanted to go on this journey; no one does by choice! But in the wake of unbelievable grief, you have worked so hard to find ways to honor Chelsi every day. You have been the center of Atlas’ world, and you keep Chelsi in his life rather than never mentioning her to him. I know the love from Buster and Atlas has provided the glue that held your shattered world together until your new reality could go through the metamorphosis you describe here. You are brave, loyal, vulnerable and genuine about your struggles. I am blessed to have known Chelsi and your little family is a great blessing in my life. You are one of the most generous people I know. Thank you for all the ways in which you enrich my life. I feel you will provide healing for many other people in sharing your own. Be blessed in your blogging adventure.
You have Perfectly put into words the circle of your love, your loss, your coping , your desire and how everyone can relate and /or understand the lovely and delicate relationship between here and there.⛅️